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Digital Pedagogy - A Guide for Librarians, Faculty, and Students

This guide is meant to inform the user about Digital Pedagogy. It includes information on educational theory, a collection of case studies, and resources relevant to the study of digital pedagogy.

Why Games?

According to Educause's article, 7 Things you Should Know About Game Based Learning, gaming can create a dynamic that can inspire learners to develop skills and competencies as they focus on the activities of the game.

They can:

  • function as individual learning activities
  • a powerful content delivery mechanism over several sessions
  • last for the duration of the course.

In order to deliver content as a game, faculty members tend to divide the syllabus into levels through which the students must progress, with students getting feedback rather than grades.

In order for it to be effective, the game:

  • must align with learning outcomes
  • should not be competitive in the conventional sense

Sometimes, in fact, the game might require students to work collaboratively in order to solve problems, while in other contexts, game mechanics might make students compete against one another in order to reach a personal best.

Why use games?

According to the UMass-Amherst, Centre for Teaching and Faculty Development "The Pedagogy of Games," FAQ, goals, rules, challenge, and interaction can be used to engage students and increase learning outcomes. It can help:

  • build an emotional connection to learning and subject matter
  • provides opportunity for feedback and practice
  • can be customized to individualized teaching


Digital Pedagogy, Gaming, and Mass Collaboration - Duke Frankilin Humanities Institute 

Game Based Learning - Benefits

Benefits of Games Based Learning


In her article, “Harnessing the Power of Game Dynamics,” Kim states that gamification is the process of game thinking and game mechanics to engage users and solve problems. The author states that games can help in learning because people are more:


  • motivated
  • engaged, and
  • achieve more in games than in the real world


and that games are designed to deliver an optimal experience to the user.


Additionally, the author states that game dynamics can:


  • raise the level of user engagement with library resources, and
  • can be used to help users solve problems more effectively and quickly


According to Kim, typically, the protocol of the game is to meet relatively simple conditions in return for attainable awards, and as the conditions get more complicated and challenging, the awards get bigger. The author also states that a well designed game gives player structure and meaning to work towards the award. It has the benefit of being transparent about what info is needed to achieve goals, rewards efforts fairly, and provides feedback quickly, which is how game dynamics motivate.


Additionally, according Educause's 7 Things You Should Know About Game Based Learning, games can:

  • Draw students into a course more actively

  • Competition can pique motivation

  • Hone student abilities while achieving interim goals that makes them feel like they are progressing

  • Reinforce the fact that failure is not a setback nor an outcome but indication that more skill building is needed

  • Through discrete steps, ead to a major goal, students can see the interrelationship of tactics and strategy.

  • Learn about procedure and the value of alternative paths

  • Help students become more confident, independent thinkers who are more prepared to take on large projects and carry them through to completion.

According to Anastasia Salter, writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, in the article, "Games in the Classroom: Part 1," games allow for:

  • The exploration of content from  a new point of view ( for example, inhabiting a character – going through a historical process)

  • Learning through teaching and simulating: designing a game requires enough understanding to express content in a way that other will understand it.

  • Reinforcement of teamwork and collaboration: demand and reward teamwork – systems of clearly defined roles and objectives to create better outcomes than individually

Salter claims that not only is the incorporation of games an opportunity to shape content in a new light, it also allows faculty members to sharpen their digital skills.

According to Toccura Porter, in their article “Games and Activities: Aletrnative Foundation for Library Instructional Learning,” there should be consideration of the educational outcomes that need to be fulfilled, whenever a game is incorporated into the classroom. He also states that educational emphasis in 21st C encourages inclusive teaching and learning approaches that are student centered, and that games are an emerging media that play a central role in the development of the current generation. He also emphasized that games can be useful for bridging understanding for library research concepts, and that there are numerous online resources and examples already available for faculty members and librarians to assist in the design of games.

Game Based Learning - Challenges


As with any new educational approach, there are numerous challenges to using games both in the classroom and in library instruction. In the article, “Gaming and Learning: Winning information literacy collaboration,” Spiegelman and Glass discuss potential Barriers to Games Based learning. These include the following:

  • Games take time to learn and design properly

  • Wasted efforts will be the greatest administrative fear

  • Involve materials that range from the inexpensive to the costly

  • Design efforts are often funded via grants which have to be managed

  • Pedagogical and technical supports might be necessary (additional resources)

  • Issues of access and the digital divide

  • An examination is needed as to whether students actually prefer this approach to teaching


However, it should be noted that the Spiegelman and Glass state that a lot of game based learning can be done with a small investment of funds and many can be implemented with very little overhead. Additionally, the benefits of games-based learning, including increased engagement and motivation, greater learning, are too compelling to ignore.


Boyhun Kim, in the article “Harnessing the Power of Game Dynamics," not all games are fun or worth playing. If there is poor design, the game will not be fun, and then students will not play it. The recommendations that the author makes is to not over gamify. She recommends starting small, and making the game user centred. Additionally, if the game is too heavily focused on educational aspects: will result in luke-warm reactions from patrons. Educause’s “7 Things You Should Know About Gaming,” state that the following are some concerns that might arise out of taking a games approach in instruction are as follows:

  • Games may have pedagogical appeal, but their general appeal might not be universal

  • They are frequently associated with leisure rather than academic drive

  • Can make some feel self conscious

  • Game dynamics can be difficult to align with learning objectives as to meet the educational model, it must meet objectives and be fun

  • They must achieve proper alignment with curriculum