Category Archives: Educational Games

Using the Game “Diplomacy” in the Classroom

This is an “article” about a teacher’s use of the boardgame “Diplomacy” in his 12th grade humanities classroom (who had just read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War and Machiavelli’s “The Prince”).  I ran across this “article” awhile back when I was searching for examples of the use of existing games that have been used to teach topics in a real classroom.  I put quotes around the word “article” here because the work is not a published article but appeared in the form of a very long post on the “Boardgame Geek” forum.  As such there is no indication of the real name of this person or where his school is located.  In the opening paragraphs of his post he identifies himself as a teacher and states the following:

“This is written by a teacher, about a teacher’s experience using the game in the classroom, for an audience who is either interested in general in the world’s best game, or for teachers who are looking toward using gaming to enrich their instruction.”

diplomacyteacherThe poster (Calavera Despierta) includes great detail and photographs of his efforts to teach his students the game and apply it to the lesson he his hoping to teach them. He also goes to great lengths to analyze and give a detail debrief of his success.  I find the narrative fascinating and all the more so when one reads that this brave teacher actually did this simultaneously in four of his classes.

Calavara address many concerns that I have seen in other published accounts about using games in the classroom such as:

  • The time it takes to teach the game and the use of class time to do so as well as play the game.
  • Dealing with students who don’t “get into it” or just are non-participatory
  • Running simultaneous games
  • Gender issues with girls maybe not being as involved as boys (especially in war themed games)
  • The pitfalls of competition and (especially in this game) the pitfalls of Machiavellian behavior in the game that may carry out of the game.
  • How to actually make the game meaningful and apply it to the topic being taught.

Calavara does a good job explaining in detail how he deployed the game and how he attempted to address these issues.  I wish he had (or will) think about publishing his reflections on his experience.  In the meantime I highly recommend reading his post here:

Diplomacy in the Classroom: A  Massive Report

And then read his follow-up post about some of the written reflections of his students after experiencing the game in his classroom here:

Diplomacy in the Classroom: Part 2: Kids in their own words



Is the Educational Games Industry Falling Into the Same Trap It Did 20 Years Ago?

half_size_Venus_Flytrap-1454843751By Blake Montgomery (2/7/2016).  Re-posted from Edsurge

Carmen Sandiego has reappeared.

Last November, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt released “Carmen Sandiego Returns,” the first iPad and iPhone version of the classic game in which players use their geography knowledge to track Carmen and her goons across the world.

Her re-emergence coincides with a resurgence in the popularity of educational games. The Apple App Store, for instance, boasts 80,000 apps in its “Educational” category. Teachers increasingly blog and write about using game-based learning in their classrooms. And the market for educational games may be worth $2.3 billion by next year.

Carmen may be in plain sight now, but things aren’t the same as when she last appeared. Once an icon of the educational gaming software in the mid-90’s—also known as the “edutainment” era—Carmen hasn’t been hiding as much as trying to claw her way back from obscurity. Her disappearance was less intentional and more reflective of the collapse of the edutainment industry.

Aftershocks of the collapse of the edutainment industry still trouble today’s teeming edtech market. Many of the key players from back then see history repeating itself: A crowded market doomed the majority of edutainment companies, just as the App Store’s . What can today’s educational game developers learn from that boom-and-bust period?

The Heyday of Edutainment

To many, the embodiment of the edutainment industry was The Learning Company, the maker of such classics as “Reader Rabbit,” “Zoombinis,” “The Oregon Trail” and “Carmen Sandiego,” and several others that were popular in classrooms in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The company exploded soon after its inception. Sales reached $1 million in 1983, the first year it incorporated, and doubled each subsequent year, according to founder Ann McCormick’s blog. She and her team built a number of acclaimed titles in their early years like Rocky’s Boots, which won Software of the Year awards from several magazines. IBM contracted the company to create games for the PCjr. The games came prepackaged with Apple II computers as the desktop soared in popularity in schools.

The Learning Company was not without its troubles, though; it cycled through a number of executives between 1980 and 1985, with McCormick leaving in 1985. Nevertheless, the company continued to…

Continue article at original site: Edsurge