Games Research

Notes on the Principles of Game-like Learning

I just watched a great webinar at Connected Learning with Katie Salen who is a co-author of Rules of Play, and director of the Institute of Play. Below is a recording followed by some notes.

Katie Salen: Making Learning Irresistible: 6 Principles of Game-like Learning

Key Design Principles

How do we to take a theory and translate it into an actionable principle?

  1. Creating a need to know:
    • Games drop players into problem spaces that a player is willing to confront and solve.
    • Curriculum design should revolve around creating a need to know, not about what to know.
  2. Games as spaces of possibility:
    • Teachers create a space of possibility for students or players to tinker, explore, and test assumptions.
    • Start with content to teach and present it in a space for learners to experiment.
    • Get students comfortable with failing by structuring coursework around iterations.

  3. Flat classrooms:
    • Expertise and authority is shared and distributed across teachers and learners.
    • Provide experiences where all present have a chance to take on authority and develop expertise in something to share.
    • Learning is reciprocal.
    • Games demand that different people play different roles – always a pattern of reciprocity.
    • Kids thrive when given a role of expertise.
  4. Design multiple, overlapping paths toward mastery:
    • Learning experiences begin in school and move to after school or home spaces, and are then brought back into school.
    • Offer different contexts to account for different learning needs.
    • Kids learn from different paths surrounding core ideas.
    • Games constantly give shifting opportunities to do work around a core set of mechanics.

About Quest to Learn

coverQuest to Learn is a public school for grades 6-12 structured around game design and the principles of play. Located in NYC and Chicago, Quest to Learn approaches learning as a set of linked experiences relevant to multiple contexts. Games have a systemic nature – building a game is building a model of dynamic systems that change over time. When young people design games, they learn how making choices, creating rules, and making other changes to the space have an impact on the system as a whole. Quest to Learn is a school designed as a system that takes the core principles of games and applies them to a space for learning.

There is a ton of information on the Connected Learning website including many more webinars, case studies, and personal stories – definitely check it out.