Pre-Service Teachers Designing Serious Games For 21st Century Classrooms

Year: 2015

Author: Walsh, Christopher, Schmoelz, Alexander

Type of paper:

Serious games are fun and powerful vehicles for learning, yet initial teacher education courses rarely require pre-service teachers to design serious games they can be used for future teaching and learning. Wanting to disrupt this reality, we designed a course for pre-service teachers at the University of Vienna entitled ‘Digital games, simulation and virtual worlds for teaching and learning’. The course required students to first play serious games to experience how deep learning occurs through gameplay. Then they critically reviewed a number of serious games and critiqued them. They came to understand how serious games operationalise playful structures that allow gameplayers to think about their choices, take action and experience the impact of their actions. The final assessment required the pre-service teachers to draw on their gameplay experiences, critiques of serious games and collaboratively design a serious game they could playtest with diverse upper primary school students. We present four serious games designed by pre-service teachers that have successfully mapped educational outcomes into serious game mechanics. We argue that these pre-service teachers’ experience of designing and playtesting digital games not only helped them make their teaching relevant to students’ lifeworlds, but also helped them understand that pedagogy can be playful.