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Inspiring Educators in Game-Based Learning

As an educational game development studio on a mission to create playful experiences that improve people’s lives, the team at Filament pays a lot of attention to the commercial games space and the trends that are capturing audiences’ imaginations and attention – but that’s just one half of the equation. In equal measure, we keep an eye on the classroom. Every day, educators are finding inspiring and inventive ways to use games and game-based pedagogy with their students. Their stories help us discover new models and techniques for game-based learning, and serve as a reminder of how powerful game-based learning can be in practice. Read on to see how these educators are using games and games-based pedagogy to make a real impact on their students.

Innovation Management

Tucker Marion, business professor at Northeastern, was hired two years ago by Harvard Business Publishing to develop an online game that allows students to experience a simulation of the process behind creating innovative business ideas. In the game, students are tasked with using a $50,000 budget to pursue innovation strategies at a struggling mid-sized newspaper. The challenge of the game lies in reconciling innovative strategies with the mandates passed down by your CEO. With students gaining valuable insights about business realities like budgets and stakeholder management, Professor Marion’s game is an exemplar of how game-based learning can work in Higher Ed. Check out Northeastern’s coverage of Professor Marion’s work here. 

Using Games to Juice up Science Lessons

Friend of Filament Tammie Schrader was recently profiled by THE Journal for her work in bringing games into the classroom, specifically in the sciences. As the science and computer science coordinator for NorthEast Washington Education Service District 101, Tammie is well-positioned to lead educators in her district towards a greater understanding and comfort level when it comes to game-based learning. In the article, Tammie highlights what makes games so great for learning, discussing how games eliminate constraints, provide assessment, and encourage persistence. Read the article here, and check out some of Tammie’s other work in our How to Teach with Games eBook.


A first year teacher at Aspire Hanley Middle School, Yomyko Clark recently discussed her approach to game-based learning in a fascinating interview with Chalkbeat as part of their excellent series of educator interviews, the “How I Teach” series. Yomyko is not just using game-based learning in her classroom – she’s using the art of game design itself. Students are challenged to design their own board game using 15 math problems called Mathnopoly which other students are then challenged to play. This gives the students an understanding not only of the subject matter but also the techniques one might use to teach it. Another example of her DIY approach has her students learning about percentage ratios by playing “paper basketball” with balled up paper and a recycling bin, a simple and fun way to make math more tangible and relatable. Learn more about Yomyko’s work here. 

Using VR for Social-Emotional Learning

This article by EdSurge highlights the pioneering educational VR work of Chris Caldwell, language arts teacher at Chisholm Trail Middle School, and Brian Grantham, director of education technology at Hawaii’s Mid-Pacific Institute. Both of these educators are using virtual reality to create empathy and understanding in their students, transporting them into high-stakes real life experiences like entering a refugee camp or enduring a night of homelessness. The impactful viscerality of these experiences is just one of the ways that VR changes learning, and these educators have noted that their students had a much stronger reaction to learning about these topics through a VR lens. Learn more here. 

Emergent Learning through Game Design

Educator Mike Washburn offers his unique perspective on teaching through game design – each year, he transforms his computer studies classroom into a game studio. Through what he’s dubbed the “Game Design Challenge,” students are tasked with combining their knowledge of programming, graphic design, video production and web design into creating their very own video game. This cross-cutting approach helps students develop the 21st century skills that are critical to success in the modern workplace. Read about Mike’s teaching philosophies firsthand here. 

Feeling inspired? Same here! Educators like these are so critical to the health of the game-based learning movement, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next. If you have an inspiring game-based learning educator that you want to shout out, tell us about it on Twitter or Facebook!


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