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ETCV 524 - Games and Simulations

Dr. Wayne Brent

Course Description​ - This course is an in depth study of educational gaming from theoretical and design perspectives,

and the practical aspects of evaluating and implementing games, simulations, and virtual environments for teaching and learning.

The societal and cultural impact of games and simulations, specifically as they relate to education will also be examined.


Learning Objectives - Demonstrate a basic knowledge of educational games and sims. Analysis and evaluate an educational games and sims for its pedagogical value. Demonstrate an understanding of societal issues related to games and sims. Review research literature on educational games and sims and report findings. Design an instructional scenario that uses educational games and sims effectively.


Final Reflection of this Course

Overall, this has been one of my favorite courses in my PhD program to date.  There are several reason I feel this way, first I really prefer the online format as it fits better into my lifestyle, second the projects were of real value to me in my area of study and third, I have a good rapport with the instructor.


Skills, knowledge and insights that are gained during this course           

     My final project was where I gained the most skill and insight into how difficult it is to design a serious game for learning.  There are so many details and processes that need to planned, reviewed and evaluated before the game is even set up for a test pilot.  I could see so many disasters just waiting to happen with every tweak I made to the design of the game.  I liked the challenge and experience of plotting out a game design around a set of learning objectives and outcomes. 


Most successfully accomplished tasks over the semester           

     The literature review is always a great exercise for me.  My weakest point in my program is lacking depth of knowledge in regard to theory and theorist.  Writing a literature review around motivation, engagement and assessment as it relates to gaming helped me to deepen my knowledge in this area of study.      

      Some of the resources I used I were familiar, include Gee, Prensky and Csikszentmihalyi, however there were other who were new to me, such as Egenfeldt-Nielsen,  Galarneau and Whitton.  Doing the literature review has broadened my selection of journals and sparked my interest in reading more research in the field of gaming and simulations.  I really had no idea there were so many journals dedicated strictly to field of study!


Least successful tasks           

     The readings were my downfall this semester.  There are so many reading and resources posted in the course and not enough time to explore them all.  I do hope I will have access to the course for a while after the semester has ended so that I can catch up.  I will to be able to have some time for reading over the break.


What related tasks/ topics/ projects are of interest in the future           

     I would like to actually build the game I designed for the final project.  I am going to share it with the Earthducation team once I have finished creating the game.  I hope to use a local class to pilot the game, but may have to settle for a group of students in an after school program, as I have not gotten a response from the teacher I contacted.

     On another front, as I work with faculty across the University of Arizona I talk to them about the use of gaming strategies in their courses.  So far one faculty is coming to talk to me next week about the possibility of turning her hybrid course into some kind of a game.  Most faculty are interested in the concepts, but not ready to take the big leap.  Yesterday in a workshop on Universal Design for Learning, I got to interject some gaming strategies into the conversation.  It sparked an interesting discussion among faculty. 



     As I look at my current role at the university and into my future career in higher education I believe this course will assist me in having a new set of tools and strategies for teaching and learning.  These strategies are ones that I think will create a better, richer, more engaging learning environment to teach our 21st century student the skills they will need to be successful in our ever changing world.


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