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PLAYMAKERS is an exploration of the experiences and innovations that are leading the way for learning design in the twenty-first century. The videos in this series introduce you to a range of people working at the intersection of games and learning, from teachers who happened on the power of play through trial and error, to commercial game designers who set out to make one great game and ended up empowering millions of users to make their own.
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Game-based Approach to Teacher Education at ASU Builds Essential Skills

One of the major trends in education is the idea of using personalized learning tools to allow a student to develop skills at their own pace. But how do new teachers stay ahead of the trend and learn how best to use these new tools?

That’s where Arizona State University’s Quest2Teach comes in.

The program is a new approach to professional development that aims to put prospective teachers in a different space, where personalized learning and constant reflection on improving practice are facilitated by game-based creative tools. Quest2Teach develops and uses games that prepare teachers to know and be able to reflect on essential skills, starting on day one.

One of the challenges of implementing game-based learning in schools is the lack of exposure to best practices for new and early-career teachers. The Quest2Teach program is a collaboration between Arizona State University’s Center for Games & Impact and the Sanford Inspire Program at the Mary Fulton Teachers College that uses research-based game environments to help teachers modernize and improve their pedagogical and content knowledge by simulating their future teaching practice.

In this video we interviewed researchers, game developers, teacher educators, and undergraduate students about their experiences with an innovative teacher education program and followed the implementation of a new literacy game.


We asked those behind Quest2Teach what teachers can learn from the ASU work. Those interested in what game developers can take away from the Quest2Teach project can find more at gamesandlearning.org.

Institute of Play: How does your approach to game-based learning connect to or build on established teaching practices?

Quest2Teach: We believe that the strength of games is not in the software, and more in the carefully designed learning trajectories as well as the local facilitation and student collaborations that bring personal meaning and lasting impact to those game experiences.

In creating the Quest2Teach curricula around these games, all the collaborators bring their own toolkits, affordances and expertise—especially the course instructor whose positioning of the game as part of the broader teacher-training trajectory was essential for deep and engaged learning. On a related note, the games aren’t created to push out domain content as much as they are intended to allow players to engage in that domain, navigate and question the assumptions, and from this foster collaborations and discussions that are much deeper than a course could offer without this game-infused experience shared by all students.

We purposely leave open opportunities for the local instructor or college to modify, add, and create additional learning experiences within the curricula and network, so they can personalize the learning to their student needs and local culture. These curricula are maximized when driven by an instructor, where the game worlds provide a place to practice and fail safely within a blended course framework, with some elements student-directed and some instructor-led, and all applicable to their real world field experiences, with the ultimate goal of fostering reflective practitioners and lifelong learners.

Institute of Play: How does this program change teaching practice? What does the change look like?

Quest2Teach: The impact and outcomes of Quest2Teach on learning and pedagogy have been extensively studied as part of a design-based implementation research program for the past 4 semesters of classroom implementations with hundreds of pre-service teachers and in-service teachers. All studies have demonstrated significant learning and engagement gains.

Comparison studies and ethnographic methods demonstrate that student-teachers are shifting into a protagonist and active role in their learning, describing the ‘skills they’ve gained,’ or ‘tasks they accomplished,’ rather than the ‘information they learned about’ in comparison studies. There has been also been a significant shift in their self-reported identity from that of student to that of a teacher after virtually seeing themselves successfully engaging in these professional practices. Student-teachers also report higher levels of confidence in their teaching within these targeted theories, and demonstrate stronger fluency and depth in discussing these theories than comparison groups. Finally, student-teachers feel more confident in mentoring and teaching their own students after experiencing these nuanced scenarios with virtual students, where they’re able to play through multiple discourse approaches and models, and replay the games to see different outcomes with different approaches.


About the Teaching With Games Series

Data from the 2012 Joan Ganz Cooney Center national teacher survey showed that few teachers are exposed to game-based learning in pre-service training, and that teachers usually provide their own ongoing professional learning on games and learning. This series looks at how teachers can be exposed to games through various forms of PD.  From a game-based approach to teacher education at ASU to play-based professional learning for informal learning environments at TASC, this series takes the viewer on a journey of innovative and novel approaches to teacher PD.

The series is a project of the Games and Learning Publishing Council and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The series is produced by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the Institute of Play.

PLAYMAKERS is an exploration of the experiences and innovations that are leading the way for learning design in the twenty-first century.

This series is made possible through the generous support of the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.