Game Theory & Learning

GAMING FOR LEARNING – Exploring the power of game theory to enhance and motivate student learning

Within this section of our research, we will be sharing conceptual understandings and credible examples of how gaming can be used to enhance student learning and the educational experience per sé.  While we will highlight aspects of research on gaming, we will also provide links to credible and reviewed sites that are current within the theme of gaming for learning. As indicated by futurist, analyst and researcher Elliot Masie, gaming allows learners to “fail to succeed” – something quite the opposite of what students experience in traditional educational systems of the 20th century. David William Shaffer, author of How Computer Games Help Children Learn, has raised the bar of infusing technology into educational practice by making the case that Epistemic Games “are fundamentally an innovative way to think”, a solution that “uses technology to think about learning in new ways appropriate for a postindustrial, global economy and society.” This field of gaming is dynamic and exponentially growing nearly as fast as our technological innovations appear. However, most educational systems and institutions today, especially those preparing teachers as well as their workplaces, are not keeping up with this innovation. As a consequence, we appear to be losing our students, forcing them to find their own innovative ways to tap into their strengths and capacities such as problem-solvers, entrepreneurs, and future creative innovators. Some have even proposed that university training is a waste of time. We encourage your comments and contributions to build on these initial forays into gaming for learning.

Games are also being researched as a “formative assessment” tool for educators – i.e. an instrument used during the instructional process for gauging student learning and informing teachers how their instruction is being understood, or not, and what changes might be needed to improve understanding. One of the recent research projects being undertaken in this area is called the A-Games Project spear-headed by the University of Michigan. Key Findings indicate that “Using digital games as part of instruction may enable teachers to conduct formative assessments more frequently and more effectively.” However, there are several barriers to overcome. Here is Part I of their report.

Here are some useful links to those working in this arena with actual products, some of which can be tried without cost:

Gamification Corporation – industry that brings together game mechanics and marketing to create engagement and solve problems.

The Radix Endeavor – a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) topics for middle and high school curricula

Learn by Gaming – Minecraft Summer Camp

GameDesk – a transformative education nonprofit consisting of a research institute, commercial development studio, online community platform, and physical school.