The 1st step of this lab (in English), which focused on the implementation of existing video games in courses, took place on March 16, 2023, in English.
Throughout this co-creative ideation lab session, participants discussed the best teaching contexts to implement games, as well as the design guidelines (time, requirements, etc.) to take into consideration.
The bulk of the lab was led by Johnathan Mina and Pascale Warmoes, teachers at Collège LaSalle, who have explored and reported on the use of video games in their classrooms since 2012. They became interested in using entertainment-based video games, which are typically polished and made by professional video game companies, in their classrooms.
Johnathan experimented with Portal and Pascale with Never Alone. They linked these video games to the development of critical thinking skills and empathy, respectively, and noted positive impacts on their students’ skill sets with regard to the concepts targeted. To corroborate these more intuitive observations, they obtained a research grant to conduct a study, which Eductive reported on in September 2022.
After summarizing their research, during the first part of the lab session, Johnathan and Pascale focused on the teacher guide [PDF] they started developing as part of their project, responding to a teacher need to make their own use of games in the classroom transferable to other disciplines. Before sending the participants off into breakout rooms for co-creative ideation sessions, they explained and discussed the essential steps to consider when choosing a video game to use as part of a course:
- Concentrate on precise learning objectives
- Use online resources when searching for a videogame that matches these learning objectives
- Create discussion questions on specific elements in the videogame and ask students to answer the questions as they play the videogame, which can be reinforced through a post-play discussion
They also emphasized that video games obviously cannot replace the teacher, which is why sound pedagogical integration is paramount.
Participants were then invited to put these 3 principles into practice in small-group breakout sessions, by identifying a specific topic or competency, exploring the websites recommended to find suitable games, and sharing their thought process.
In the plenary following the hands-on breakout room activities, based on reflexive comments elicited from the participants, Johnathan and Pascale walked participants through the 5 aspects that teachers should focus on [PDF] when assessing the suitability of a videogame they consider using in the classroom
- The amount of play (should be kept short)
- The content of gameplay (avoid violence; ensure content aligns closely with the learning objectives)
- Game context (if possible, get students to play collaboratively)
- Game structure (the associated level of difficulty should be accessible for all students)
- Game mechanics (how do students need to interact with the game?)
A few other teachers also discussed their experiences using games in the classroom:
- Andy Van Drom, an ESL teacher at Cégep Limoilou, shared how he integrates language-based games into his classes, from quick conversation games to apps that offer a level of gamification. He has also experimented with introducing game design at a meta-level, getting students to think about designing game ideas that relate to specific language skills to leverage their thinking and make them more aware of their own learning.
- Eductive Lab host Alexandre Enkerli also mentioned Neerusha Gokool Baurhoo, a Biology teacher at Vanier College who has developed some games herself and implemented them in the classroom. She is looking to connect with teachers and students in Biology and Chemistry to provide subject matter expertise for video games.
- Catherine Nygren, an English teacher at Champlain College Saint-Lambert, shared experiences from her own practice using games in her courses. More specifically, she uses video games to introduce literary devices and incite students to hone their analysis skills. She also uses tabletop role-playing games and real-life adaptations of video games, which are more accessible for students who are less tech-savvy and avoid potential problems related to privacy and confidentiality.