Voyage of the Knight by Drago1500
As this summer concludes, so does Gamestar Mechanic’s first ever Online Learning course. We learned A LOT this summer about what it takes to run a course online and were so impressed by the creativity and dedication of our students.
Coming from the perspective of a classroom teacher, it took me a little while to switch gears into the Online Learning mentality. There is some reading between the lines (or the game levels) in figuring out where your students are in their learning pathway that wouldn’t otherwise occur in a face-to-face setting. We asked our students to design a whole bunch of games in a variety of genres (platformer, action, and adventure) and helped them go through the game design process of brainstorming, prototyping, designing, and iterating. We supported our students as much as possible, but it was really up to them to take initiative to move through the course.
I was super impressed by many of the games that came out of this course, not only because the games were great, but because the students who made them were so disciplined and determined to better their game design skills. These are three superb games that came from three outstanding students:
Adventure Challenge Entry
Voyage of the Knight
This fall we have released another iteration of Gamestar Mechanic Online Learning. We used what we learned over the summer to make our new version of the program even more focused on scaffolding students in the game design process and giving them more opportunities for reflection.
For a more in depth look at this Online Learning program from one of our instructors, check out this blog post by Meagan Bromley.
One of the most rewarding parts of working on games and educational tools is when people make thoughtful observations about their experiences using the tool. Much of what I learn about Gamestar comes from the Gamestar community opening my eyes to various experiences and takeaways – often ones that I didn’t expect!
Here are two recent blog posts about Gamestar Mechanic. The first is from Meagan Bromley, an instructor on Gamestar’s Online Learning Program. In this post, Meagan reflects on her experience as an online instructor and emphasizes how very awesome her students are. She describes the diversity of her students’ goals and backgrounds, from experienced game designers to novice experimenters. One of her students is even writing his own blog on his experience in the program! It’s great to hear about how this platform can support this wide array of interests and aspirations.
This next blog post from Michelle Cook, a teacher librarian, describes a series of “epiphanies” that she had while teaching with Gamestar and the realizations that her students made while learning with Gamestar. My personal favorite teacher epiphany is all about validating your students’ interests. Cook writes:
“It is our role as educators of the 21st Century to meet these students where they are at, employ skills and techniques that they are familiar with to gain their trust and attention that you’re on their side and have their best interests at heart.”
This point is so important when using games in the classroom. Yes, games and game design can do many wonderful things like teach systems thinking and collaboration, but they are even more powerful teaching tools because they come from our kids’ natural passion. Whether or not we use games as educational resources, kids will play them in their spare time. Cook, and many other teachers, have realized that by connecting learning to what kids really like to do outside of school, we are providing students with interest-driven pathways and letting them know that we really do value and care about their passions.