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Sam Anderson - THATCamp Games 2013

Sam  Anderson

  • Title / Position: Coordinator, Instructional Design and Faculty Support
  • Organization: UMass Amherst
  • Twitter: @anderhaff

Former academic librarian at a small liberal arts college and current educational technologist at a large research university.

Game enthusiast and sometimes-game designer (mostly in the realm of table-top roleplaying games)

Convinced that game design principles and elegant game procedures have a lot to teach us about creating fruitful, challenging learning environment.

  • Procedures of Play for Classroom Management


    Games often employ clear rules, guides, player aids, and even firm technological/physical controls to define and manage player behavior.

    From the simple (time limits, turn-taking), to the more elaborate (ritualized phrases to trigger specific actions, assigning explicit roles with strict limitations on behavior), appropriately-designed play procedures support and facilitate the success of particular game’s style of play.

    Learning environments (physical or online) require some degree of guided management to consistently develop into functional, supportive, and productive spaces.

    What do the rules and procedures that shape, govern, and drive successful gaming environments have to teach the classroom in this regard?

    How can strong constraints empower players/learners to engage with content or activity that might otherwise leave them feeling directionless or confused?

    How can obviously-artificial structures for action and interaction simultaneously shift learners out of their comfort zone and yet leave them feeling safe enough to enter an unfamiliar, experimental learning space where they are allowed to take risks?

    What design guidelines are useful to prevent having rules and procedures for classroom management slide into condescension or authoritarianism?