Starting up our gaming and education seminar

This week I’m teaching my gaming and education seminar for Georgetown University’s Learning, Design, and Technology program.  I’d like to share my plans for it here.

(This week’s book club post is on its way.  It’ll be the next one.)

The goal of the class is to dive into how we can use gaming in education, with an emphasis on higher ed. Every class meeting focuses on one particular form of gaming (computer, tabletop, role-playing) or an aspect of gaming. We read scholarship on the topic, play one or more sample games, write notes in the class learning management system, and do some hands-on game design work.  I offer a mercifully brief introductory presentation for each one.

Students get to shape some of the class. They develop their own final projects, which are educational games. They collectively determine two class topics, along with how we explore them. And we work together to decide how class sessions should be conducted, online and off-.

This is a very intense and fast class.  It’s only six weeks long, including one national holiday, yet it’s a full semester of work.

Hunter on Ogre board

Steve Jackson Games produced a massive board for Ogre, and Hunter appreciates it.

I’ve taught the class once before, in 2020.  This time I’ve made some changes based on my reflections and student feedback.  Other changes occur because the first version took place during the pandemic, so was entirely online. So far, this summer’s class will be in person, albeit with all of us wearing masks and trying to respect social distancing.  Given the pandemic, there’s always the change of the university flipping the toggle online or ending the mask mandate.

Another change is adding more wiki-ness to the class.  Well, not wiki software per se, but setting up two Google Docs (Georgetown’s enterprise standard) for students and myself to develop during the seminar. One is for keywords, and I’ve been adding some to get us started: role-playing game, zone of proximal development, NPC.  I hope the students will build up terms, definitions, and examples as we go. The other is for reflections on games we play during the class. I’d like it to be a kind of collection gaming journal.

Despite all of this planning, I’m trying to leave open space for flexibility, especially in responding to student interests. I have picked out for game building applications (Storyboard, Twine, RPG Maker, Game Maker) and will see how much of them the students can work with in our short time together.  I may replace some games, readings, and activities along the way. And, of course, we might have to change things as COVID dictates.

Here’s the syllabus. Please note that some readings are not hyperlinked, because they are available to my students as campus digital resources.

May 23 Introductions and into the magic circle

  • introduction to the class: logistics; classroom democracy; cocreating rules of the road; meta design aspects
  • student work, including previous examples
  • introduction to gaming: history and theory
  • game: The Thing From the Future
  • technology: download and install Steam
  • writing in Canvas:
    1. student self-description character sheets
    2. what is your game persona’s D&D alignment (This quiz might help.)

May 25 Tabletop gaming

May 30 – Memorial Day

June 1 Role-playing games

June 6 Computer gaming

June 8 Education and gaming, 1

June 10: final project pitch due

June 13 Education and gaming, 2

  • reading: James Paul Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, (71-219).
  • writing in Canvas: responses to readings
  • games:
    1. Bondbreaker; Waterworks!
    2. Reacting to the Past

June 15 Gaming and design

June 20 Design for education and gaming

June 22 Storytelling and games

June 27 Student topic pick

June 29 Student topic pick and final project presentations

July 8:  final projects due

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1 Response to Starting up our gaming and education seminar

  1. Higby says:

    Sounds like fun! (I didn’t even know that Goffman wrote about “fun”!)
    I read here your Konieczny observational study on table top gaming and board games, and agree with his criticism of Putman’s predictions regarding poker, where participation is growing slightly in our area (in spite of COVID), and has been for years, probably (?) a result of a growing population of retired males — but this is where Konieczny could have added to his essay, in regard to sources of growth, recruitment, initiation of new players into tournaments, and various games
    The poker world that I observe is very opaque to me, and it is unclear how to get past that — but, from what I can see, it happens.
    Like getting a job, right?
    But what about the social capital accumulation claim that Konieczny makes? No so different, I think, from outcomes of similar sized groups with longevity, similar participation levels. Still, an interesting topic.

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