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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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Lots of teachers tell me they want to get into game-based teaching and learning. Then they me ask how they can start. I always tell them, don’t do it alone; find a group of other teachers who are making things happen on their own and join them.

Lots of teachers ask me how we could ever reform our schools for real; how we can finally get past our fetish for facts and tests and sorting. I tell them, it will never be done by professors, policy makers, politicians, or Schools of Education. It will only happen when teachers take back their own profession and act together in the name of real innovation and not in the name of fame and fortune for people who do not spend their day teaching kids.

Today, there is a teaching and learning revolution going on outside of school. Everyday people, young and old, often together, join interest-driven websites to teach and learn from each other and to resource each other for making, doing, participating, and innovating. These people are joined together by a shared affinity for something, not first and foremost by age, race, class, gender, or politics. Their shared affinities are limitless: making media; citizen science; public journalism; women’s health; raising chickens; modding video games; anime; fan-fiction; robotics; activism of all sorts, and on and on and on.

If people have a passion—say, for modding (modifying, re-programming) video games—they often have a home-base...

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