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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.

Game Based Learning - Best Practices

Best practices - For Faculty Members and Librarians


The literature examined offered a list of best practices around gaming in the classroom and during information literacy sessions. The Centre for Teaching and Faculty Development, UMass-Amherst, designed a handout for faculty members to guide their use of games within courses. These recommendations are based upon current academic literature about the impact of game based learning. They make the following recommendations:


1.       Speak the language of games - when including a game into the curriculum, embed the language and reward structure of gaming into the design of the course and the syllabus.


2.       Play games, but don’t let the mode overwhelm the content - It is important to balance content of the game with the requirements of the game.


3.       Customize the level of challenge -  Students learn best when they are challenged, but not challenged too much. Additionally, there should be different ways of approaching the game, and groups should be able to work at different levels to best match their styles.


4.       Avoid games that focus on rote memorization, but instead, focus on open environment, creating a space for reflection.


5.       Frame the game so that students understand how the game supports learning goals.


6.       Give specific formative feedback by telling students specifically how current knowledge differs from the goal, and give clear instruction on what they can do to complete the game more effectively.


7.       Give students enough time to practice new skills because in order for new knowledge to be retained across time and transferred to new context, time is needed for them to develop the skill properly.


In her article, "Harnessing the Power of Games Dynamics," Kim makes suggestions about applying game dynamics to the library services.

1.       Provide level up experience for library users, based on how often the user uses the catalog, from novice to expert researcher.


2.       Award status and powers to library use that can be admired, meaning, allow users to FB, tweet, G+ their statuses as they move up.


3.       Show progress bar in library catalog, as progress bars can make you feel goal oriented, making you feel satisfied as you move towards completion.


4.       Color code status of checked out items, because using visual signals can help with returns.


5.       Allow library currency to accumulate and spend: points for every transaction, for example, that can be used for coffee.


In addition to this, Boyhun Kim also offers tips for instructional games. She states that simplicity is integral, and it is great when games can be incorporated with or without technology. She also states that there should be:

  • A 1-2-3 step process

  • The game should require less than 10 mins

  • It should  play to the instructor’s strengths, and is not suitable for every single IL instance


For the purposes of information literacy, Smale, in the article "Learning Through Quests and Contests," refers to the fact that game mechanics and principles are the structures of and actions or strategies used while playing a game. The author states that these structures and strategies may also easily be incorporated into information literacy and library instruction. In terms of best practices, Smale refers to Martin and Ewig discussing game principles in the context of information literacy, recommending that principles to incorporate include:


  • rules and goals
  • challenges (especially if scaffolded to increasing levels of difficulty)
  • ability to exert control over the progress of the game
  • fantasy, in which “real-life consequences are lessened” and
  • the ability to power-up

Additionally, in her conclusion, Smale insists that games based learning works best when it is tied to specific learning goals and outcomes for class sessions or a course. The game should be fun, but should also have a definite purpose and defined learning outcomes."