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Game-Based Learning in Action

How an Expert Affinity Group Teaches With Games


Matthew Farber

How are expert educators using games in their classrooms to give students agency, while also teaching twenty-first century skills, like empathy, systems thinking, and design thinking? This question has motivated Matthew Farber’s Game-Based Learning in Action: How an Expert Affinity Group Teaches With Games showcasing how one affinity group of K12 educators—known as "The Tribe"—teaches with games. They are transformational leaders outside the classroom, in communities of practice. They mentor and lead newcomers to game-based learning, as well as advise game developers, academics, and policymakers.

Teachers in "The Tribe" do not teach in isolation—they share, support, and mentor each other in a community of practice. Farber shares his findings about the social practices of these educators. Game-Based Learning in Action details how the classrooms of expert game-based learning teachers function, from how they rollout games to how they assess learning outcomes.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from the best practices of expert educators. These teachers use games to provide a shared meaningful experience for students. Games are often the focal point of instruction. Featuring a foreword from James Paul Gee (Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, and Regents’ Professor), this book comments on promises and challenges of game-based learning in twenty-first century classrooms. If you are looking to innovate your classroom with playful and gameful learning practices, then Game-Based Learning in Action is for you!

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This book would not have been possible without the support of many people. I would like to thank my dissertation chair, Christopher Shamburg, and the entire committee: Leonid Rabinovitz, Muriel Rand, and Rebecca Rufo-Tepper. I am also grateful to my series editors, Michele Knobel and Colin Lankshear, for their continued faith in my vision.

This journey would not have been possible without the support of The Tribe, my community of practice. I would like to express my gratitude to my new colleagues in the School of Teacher Education at my new home: The Technology, Innovation and Pedagogy Department at the University of Northern Colorado.

On a more personal note, I would like to thank my wife, Laura, for her patience throughout the duration of this research; my curious son, Spencer; and our playful dog, Lizzie. A special thank-you is extended to my parents, Gary and Judith Farber. And thanks to my wife’s parents, Virginia Fisher and Frank Fisher.

An early version of some paragraphs and sections, including Chapters 4, 5, and 6, appears on ProQuest Dissertation and Theses. All rights reserved.

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