A few episodes back, we talked with games designer Emma Henry about the overlaps between games design and learning design. In this episode, we return to this relationship and are honored to have the opportunity to talk with a researcher who has spent her career focusing on the transformative potential that online games present for learning. This lady is Professor Constance Steinkuehler, who after achieving her PhD in 2005 on Cognition and Learning in Massive Multiplayer Online Games, ran a research lab for 8 years which investigated the relationships between cognition, culture and online gaming.

In 2011 she took time out to work as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Obama White House and advised federal agencies and private foundations on how to develop games that have a positive social impact.

In her current role at University of California Irvine, Professor Steinkuehler researches the cognitive and social aspects of video games with a particular focus on E-Sports. This work includes providing advice on parenting gamers and exploring issues of diversity and inclusion in online gaming.

Now the Ding-O-Meter is usually fairly reserved, but I can tell you that it went bananas when Professor Steinkuehler started talking about the things that learning designers can learn from video and online games. So among the many Ding moments in this episode, listen out for when Constance talks about:

  • how the term ‘gamification’ doesn’t do justice to the myriad of ways that good games design can positively impact learning
  • the value of giving teachers and curriculum designers enough time to collaborate so they can design, test and adapt programmes of learning before they are given to students
  • the importance of user testing to highlight and prevent moments in a player’s journey where the player loses sight of the goal
  • how games can enable learners to experience something that they didn’t think they were capable of in real life, and consequently have a positive impact on their identity.

Enjoy the episode, and please share your thoughts and questions in the comments!

Enjoyed this post?

Why not download our takeaway guide:
11 top tips to tackle the cameras on / cameras off issue?

Are your students refusing to turn their cameras on? 

We think we can help you.

We’ve put together 11 tasty tips to help you improve student  engagement and make your teaching more enjoyable.