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Games for Social and Educational Impact: Lessons Learned and What’s Next?

On Thursday, I had the honor of delivering a keynote address for the 2nd annual NJEdge Gamification/Games in Education Symposium, held at Rutgers University. The talk was entitled “Games for Social and Educational Impact: Lessons Learned and What’s Next?”FullSizeRender

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In the talk, I began by describing five major challenges for educators: lack of engagement, moving past the “one size fits all” teaching paradigm, teaching 21st century skills for a digital age, teaching coding, and teaching empathy. Next, after posing the question, “how can games and game-like experiences play a role in addressing problems in education and society?” I identified seven opportunities (and useful properties) that games can provide: new perspectives, empathy, visioning, systems thinking, identity and self reflection, creativity, and engagement design to motivate behavior change. Various examples were given of game designs address some of these well —- games like SimCityEDU Pollution Challenge, Gone Home, FoldIt, Buffalo, etc.

I discussed strategies that could make a difference in addressing the major challenges facing educators. For example, using game design as a great way to get teachers and students to develop coding skills.

After that, I described lessons learned while designing, creating, and studying EcoChains: Arctic Crisis, a multiplayer tabletop game that teaches climate change in the Arctic ecosystem. Finally, I concluded with trends and possible future directions for education, including virtual reality/augmented reality/mixed reality — going beyond virtual “field trips” for the classroom and separating the hype from its possible usefulness as one tool in the educator toolbox, more customization and teacher-made game experiences, and game-like principles for learning.

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