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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 - Pedagogy

Pedagogy of Game Based Learning

In her article for the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Games in the Classroom,”  Anastasia Salter, UCF School of Visual Art, states that games offer great opportunity for experimenting with playful learning in all disciplines. She also states that the range and plethora of games can be daunting, but that games can be effective in small doses as well, with no major course redesign having to take place.

Faculty members attempting to integrate games into their course work can make use of tools that are already available.

She refers to Kurt Squire, one of the leading academics and experts in the field of educational gaming, in that “good games find the game in the content.” She recommends that rather than trying to force playfulness, faculty should be using the ideas of games to approach the ideas of content in new ways. She states that games and education that are meaningfully content driven are still evolving, and as games are becoming part of the pedagogical conversation, there is still a lot to explore.

In her article, Learning Through Quests and Contests , Maura Smale alludes to the following game features that facilitate learning:

  • Students can take new identity, with an extended commitment of self

  • Interactivity - the students must perform an action in order to get feedback

  • Allows students to learn from failure

  • Content can be scaffolded into well ordered problems

  • Students can learn by doing - they can perform prior to being completely competent at a skill

  • Benefits may be most pronounced with digital natives as they are used to receiving info quickly, graphics before text, prefer random access, networks, instant gratification.

  • Assessment measures are inherent in games, as students frequently cannot proceed to the next level unless a skill is learned


According to the Educause article, the use of game mechanics has potential not only as a tool for teaching but also for evaluating learning, which could include:

  • formal or informal learning

  • prior learning

  • experience-based learning

  • providing increased support for a wider range of students

Kolb's Processing Continuum:

learning styles

A Pedagogical Model for Game Based Learning: Russell Francis

Russell Francis, in his "Towards a Theory of Games Based Pedagogy," after using a digital role playing game in one of his history classes, has attempted to abstract the pedagogical model that can be applied to the use of games within the post secondary environment, that is similar to Kolb Learning Styles Model. (Please see above figure). His description of the pedagogical model is as follows, in terms of how games, especially role playing games, can be integrated into the classroom, which he suggests as a four fold model.

Francis' Four Fold Model:

1.       Situated learning in a virtual environment: through role play, students develop an embodied empathy for their virtual persona, gaining a deep and tacit understanding of a web of social relationships

2.       Overt instruction and reflective discussion: in addition to the game, the teacher leads discussion/activities  that encourage analytic reflection in the student

3.       Practical media production: assigned production tasks that require the re-application of knowledge, in a particular point of view.

4.       Critical framing: role playing games allow for flipping perspective on its side, having the potential for bottom up history not normally presented in traditional sources such as textbooks and lectures.


This model was actually formulated by Francis based on the New London Group’s report, “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designs for Social Futures.” Francis argues that games might provide the situated practice missing from most educational approaches. The author indicates that a model that is more abstract might apply to a broader gaming situations, as his is particular to role playing. He also stresses that  the design and development of innovative and imaginative learning environments remains important, as well as emphasizing the importance of case studies and good design principles to inform theory which will then inform practice.