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Gamify Your Classroom

A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning


Matthew Farber

This book is a field guide on how to implement game-based learning and «gamification» techniques to the everyday teaching. It is a survey of best practices aggregated from interviews with experts in the field, including: James Paul Gee (Author, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy); Henry Jenkins (Provost Professor at University of Southern California); Katie Salen (Founder, Institute of Play); Bernie DeKoven (Author, A Playful Path); Richard Bartle (Bartle’s Player Type Theory); Kurt Squire (Games + Learning + Society Center); Jessica Millstone (Joan Ganz Cooney Center), Dan White (Filament Games); Erin Hoffman (GlassLab Games); Jesse Schell (Schell Games/Professor at Carnegie Mellon); Tracy Fullerton (University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab); Alan Gershenfeld (E-Line Media); Noah Falstein (Chief Game Designer, Google); Valerie Shute (Professor at Florida State University); Lee Sheldon (Author, The Multiplayer Classroom); Robert J. Torres (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Asi Burak (President, Games for Change); Toby Rowland (MangaHigh); Jocelyn Leavitt (Hopscotch); Krishna Vedati (Tynker); and researchers at BrainPOP and designers from Electric Funstuff (Mission U.S. games). Each chapter concludes with practical lesson plan ideas, games to play (both digital and tabletop), and links to research further. Much of the book draws on the author’s experiences implementing games with his middle school students. Regardless of your teaching discipline or grade level, whether you are a pre-service teacher or veteran educator, this book will engage and reinvigorate the way you teach and how your students learn!
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Chapter 12. Creating Digital Games

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In an interview with journalist Robert X. Cringley, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, “I think everyone in this country should learn to program a computer. Everyone should learn a computer language because it teaches you how to think. I think of computer science as a liberal art.” This quote, from the documentary Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview (2012), was recorded in 1996, just prior to Jobs’s return to Apple. This book is not about computer programming, but I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss applications to create digital games.

The educational foundation of coding can be traced to Jean Piaget protégé Seymour Papert. He pioneered the learning theory known as constructionism. Similar to constructivism’s tenet of “learn by doing,” the theory of constructionism can be summed up as “learn by making.” Papert’s seminal book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, first published in 1980, details constructionism and the kid-friendly programming language Logo, created by his MIT lab. In the preface to Mindstorms Papert stated, “a modern-day Montessori might propose, if convinced by my story, to create a gear set for children” (1993, p. xx). Programming to Papert was not about the language, but rather the tool set to create a working system.

Expectations for widespread school adoption of the “Logo Turtle,” a small, programmable robot, were promising at the time. I remember using ← 209 | 210 → Logo for Apple II in the early 1980s, but it seemed like a novelty compared to the BASIC language...

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