A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning
Chapter 4. Iterative Design
Lesson plans evolve over the years. I know mine have! They are constantly revised and iterated. I tweak what worked and what didn’t, note how long activities actually took, and account for what was engaging for students to do. (If you are a pre-service teacher, prepare for students to derail your best intentions!) That process—trial, reflection, and revision—is design thinking. Your lesson plans are your design document.
Many learning institutions have learning designers on staff. The Institute of Play, which founded the Quest to Learn school, defined design thinking as a “set of skills, competencies or dispositions relating to the highly iterative collaborative process designers employ when conceiving, planning and producing an object or system” (Institute of Play, 2014). One of James Gee’s Learning Principles from games pertains specifically to design. He wrote that games help people to “appreciate design and design principles” (Gee, 2007, p. 221). A game is a designed object to be explored and tested. When I interviewed Gee, in April 2014, I asked him to explain the concept further. He said:
What we’ve come to understand is that game designers are designing experiences that kids can have that can lead to learning. But so are teachers. I see teaching as a design act. You’re designing good interactivity for learning. [Teachers are] doing something ← 65 | 66 → very similar to game designer. It doesn’t mean you have to design a game. Good teachers have always been trying to design good experiences.
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