How to create a game-based learning course that engages and motivates students

Good games are not only fun to play, but can be useful in education, due to their ability to stimulate and engage the players. As we play a game, we learn how to navigate the challenges and achieve the objectives required to win.

This is why many teachers are using game-based learning in their online curricula. Perhaps you’ve taken this approach and want to see how other instructors are doing it, or maybe you’re considering it and want to learn more. If so, you’ve come to the right place!

One of the sessions from Post University’s Online Learning Conference 2012 focused on this topic. It was presented by Roger Travis, who has been an innovator in the area of game-based learning. He is Associate Professor of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut, and Director of the Video Games and Human Values Initiative, based at UConn.

He created the first “practomimes” courses, a form of serious game that is based on role playing and narrative storytelling. Practomimes require students to complete course tasks and fulfill course objectives by playing characters within an alternate reality classroom.

During Roger’s workshop at our conference, he showed attendees how to develop a simple practomime course. According to Roger, the goal is not to layer game elements onto a course, but rather to turn the course into a game. Real game-based learning requires mapping play objectives to learning objectives. Done well, the result is an outcomes-based course that engages students and motivates them to learn.

Click play below to listen to Roger walk through his process for creating a game-based learning course as a role-playing game.

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