Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Game Design, Game Based Learning, & Teaching with Portals

Getting there (a not-so-brief introduction)

About two years ago now, I started down the path of actually taking games and game design seriously in my classroom. This is a topic, I've been thinking about since 2008, when I read Dennis Southwood’s article, “It's Not Just a Game—It's Skills for Life” from Educators' eZine. From 2008 to to 2011 I built a CIT class around the idea of Applying computer skills in Project Based Learning. It was marginally successful, but I still wasn't getting the results I wanted with at least half of my students, in terms of
In 2011, I attended the first Tech.it.u, spending a lot of time in break out sessions with Game Based Learning & Gamification expert, Jeff Mummert. I also took a course from PLS called, "Simulations and Gaming Technologies for the Classroom™ Online". During this time I read What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, by James Paul Gee and Reality is Broken, by Jane McGonigal. 

Fast forward to now: Games and Gamification are a huge part of my class. All of my students are engaged, thinking deeply, and even demonstrating technology fluency. Most of them, through the use of Gamestar Mechanic, which uses game-based quests and courses to help students learn game design and make their own video games!

At the 2012 Tech.it.u, Jeff Mummert introduced me to Teach with Portals, an initiative of Steam for Schools. I was able to register my class for a free educational version of Portal 2 and the Puzzle Creator. So far, the work my students have been doing in Portal 2 is amazing! I hope that this is the first of many posts where I share my experiences using this tool.