We are entering into a new age in education. The old model whole group instruction is being pushed out in favor of new methods like Blended Learning and Flipped Classrooms. My district is in the middle of this transition and are attempting to offer a lot of support. Several years ago the district went 1:1 (each student has a digital device like an iPad or laptop) and we have professional developments on the various models and techniques. The hard part – for me anyways – was always finding ways to engage students. In these new learning environments this is especially since the teacher is not always able to directly monitor student behavior. I know a lot of teachers that are leery of allowing students to work independently. The problem is that while these new techniques and ideas make a lot of sense in regards to pedagogy, they don’t account for the fact that students are people to. We all love our subjects and want students to care as much as we do but why should they? How many professional development sessions to teachers attend and immediately regret signing up for? I’ve been part of sessions where football coaches spend more time diagramming plays than listening to the speaker.

People love playing games. Male, Female, Young, Old – almost everyone enjoys some type of game. My 6 year old son learned to play Angry Birds by the time he was 4. My father-in-law is an avid NY Times Crossword Puzzle player. I once watched a professional administrator at a conference networking, not to make educational connections, but to get additional lives from strangers in Candy Crush. What is it about gaming that is so engaging? How can we take those engaging traits and apply it to our classrooms?

Gamification, Games-Based Learning, and Game-Inspired Design are attempts to use the engaging traits of games to increase engagement in non-game situations. My focus is on Game-Inspired Design in the Classroom. This technique attempts to transform the classroom from the traditional model into a game that students “play”. Instead of taking the game elements out of context (as in gamification) or wasting class time learning how to play commercial games (as in Games-Based Learning) I treat my students like they are the players in my classroom game. This change in perspective allows the teacher to plan for various types of “players” and what motivates them in the game world. Essentially, if there is no meaning for the individual player in the game they will stop playing.

Game-Inspired Design is a systematic approach to applying game elements to the classroom. It enhances the current ed reform models (Blended Learning, Flipped Class, etc…). The problem is that there are not many mentors or guides available to help teachers that want to make this transformation. My goal with this blog and website is to mentor interested educators as they begin this journey. It has revolutionized my classroom and reinvigorated my career. Join me to level up your teaching!