higher education

Game Design as Pedagogy

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On 4/18/18 at 3:30pm, I attended the Online Learning Consortium Virtual Conference Session Game Design as Pedagogy in an online session co-presented by John Stewart and Keegan Long-Wheeler of the University of Oklahoma.

Game Design As Pedagogy

We began this session by discussing game design as part of broader movement of active learning. Game design, like game play, readily fits into flipped and project-based learning pedagogies. Students must account for the many levels of their creation—as a narrative, as a game, as a journey to facilitate learning and self discovery.

This was fairly rigorous with some nice back-and-forth among the participants. Many wanted to use it in their classes and were looking for some practical methods, while others had used it ineffectively and were looking for tips which would improve performace.

A Bit of Background

Research conducted over the last twenty years has grounded game-based learning and gamification in both behaviorist and constructivist pedagogical frameworks (Rooney 2012).

However, there is still work to be done in assessing the pedagogical utility of game design in the classroom. Within the modern paradigm of ‘student creators,’ what are the pedagogical foundations for having students design games related to their coursework?

More Discussion

After some background discussion, we moved to discuss game design as part of broader movement of active learning.

For example, the game design framework allows students to reflect on the authenticity and fidelity of their game scenarios versus real world application of the skills and knowledge students convey in game design projects. This meta-reflection requires students to identify core concepts and embed them into narratives. Choosing game mechanics requires students to evaluate the best means of conveying content—a strength of game design over traditional project based learning. This iterative process of designing a game involves constant evaluation of core concepts and player experiences as students must account for the many levels of their creation—as a narrative, as a game, as a journey to facilitate learning and self discovery, etc.

Engaging Students

Using this framework for game design can engage students as teachers, as storytellers, and as problem solvers while simultaneously allowing for open-ended creativity.

Here, the co-presenters introduced the concept of game design as a pedagogical framework to start a conversation on the successes and challenges that instructors might face or have faced in the classroom.

Several people (myself included) discussed how gamification in the classroom has been working. There were a few hits (discussing the work Nicolas D’Agata has done with WEB141 Mobile Application Development). There were also a few misses (my work with WEB140 Web Development Tools was discussed. As I mentioned it as “chocolate-covered broccoli”, it elicited quite a few laughs. Most people who found gamification worked included it as an aside, and as a way of improving existing coursework. Many k-12 teachers used game-based math or english items like Prodigy, Reflex Math and WebMath items to keep students excited and ready for more.

They encourage participants will bring their own stories about students making and playing games. Some people made games as ways of working with statistics, determining the best mechanics for accurate and fair gameplay, etc.


  • What skillsets are students practicing when engaged in the game design process?
  • What pedagogies are inherent in the game design process?
  • What challenges should instructors anticipate when bringing game design into the classroom? Do these challenges vary by analog/digital game design?
  • How can game design be used to empower student voice and yield authentic projects?
  • How can students make the world a better place using game design?
  • What tools/platforms are available for game design in the classroom?
  • How is game design accomplished in online learning spaces versus face-to-face?
  • How to do we support student game design projects? Technically? Pedagogically?

In sharing ideas and stories, participants were encouraged to reflect on both their successful course interactions and what they have learned from failed classroom interventions. As a group, participants  explored pedagogical frameworks for implementing game design in their courses and engage with best practices.


It wasn’t really all that practical 100% of the time. Still, it is difficult to make a conference program that will be useful on a generic topic (gamification) and make it relevant to a specific group (curriculm education).


Lead Presenter: John Stewart, University of Oklahoma

John Stewart is the Assistant Director of Digital Learning for the OU Center for Teaching Excellence. John is interested in developing learning environments to promote digital literacy and opportunities for undergraduate research. Before joining the center, John lectured on history of science at the University of Oklahoma and Missouri University of Science and Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in the History of Science from the University of Oklahoma.

Co-presenter: Keegan Long-Wheeler, University of Oklahoma

Keegan Long-Wheeler is an educational technologist in the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Oklahoma. Keegan uses his background in science, pedagogy, and technical expertise to provide instructors with holistic solutions to their instructional and technological needs. Additionally, Keegan passionately creates open source professional development curriculum to engage faculty in digital literacy, experiential learning, game design, coding, and more! In particular, Keegan loves working with Domain of One’s Own projects and his open professional development programs: GOBLIN eXperience Play, WebFest, Canvas Camp, and more!

Active Shooter Response for Higher Education

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On February 27th I completed the online active shooter training

Active Shooter Response for Higher Education

Congratulations! You’ve completed the Active Shooter Response for Higher Education course!

Workplace Answers has provided online training to members of Wake Tech Community College. This week, I completed the Active Shooter Response Training for Employees in Higher Education. I must admit, having taken this training in the past, this was well put together. I have been in several lockdowns on campus, and always found these things very straightforward.

“In the event of hearing a gunshot during classtime, should you run into the hallway and investigate?”
This, I found to be a particularly interesting question. 🙂

Active shooter training is an essential part of the current education environment. While not having a choice to take this training or not was unpleasureable, the training is essential enough that I was pleased to have taken it.