File Under: The Path Not Taken | Selling Games Based Learning Better

I recently sat in on a session by acclaimed games-based learning expert and Minecraft education star Stephen Reid ( I had already been thinking about this topic as my next post but Stephen’s talk really reminded me of how little I had done in the world of games-based learning in my actual classroom. It was truly a masterclass on the games you use and what you could do with them. In about 60 minutes he had inspired a room to not be afraid to pick up a game, and find the learning, because the opportunities are truly endless. The thing is, I know this, I believe in it passionately, and I didn’t do enough to make it happen at my own school.

I’ve recently left the classroom after about 6 years of teaching Computer Science. I have been thinking a lot about my tenure. Most of my reflections are positive. I certainly learned a lot about myself, and grew as an educator. Despite all that growth, I’ve been preoccupied lately with the things I either didn’t do, or the things I did that I shouldn’t have done. Welcome to a series of posts I’m calling “File Under: The Path Not Taken”

Today I’d like to talk about games in school, and not selling it better.


I don’t feel obligated to cite all the research and evidence that tells us that games based learning and using video games in education is one of the most powerful ways we can teach students and keep them engaged in their learning.

See what I did there?

But as I reflect on why I didn’t get games based learning into my own school enough, I can’t help but think that maybe I should have “drowned them in journal articles” like I always used to say I could and would. In the end, I was so disappointed and, frankly, angry at my superiors for not just listening to me that I decided they weren’t worth the work to get it done. To be fair, I am not convinced that I could have said anything to change their minds, but the point is that I didn’t try. I couldn’t get past how pissed off I was that they weren’t accepting my word that I didn’t take the time to show the evidence.


I also think that on the rare occasions I had to use games in my class, I botched the presentation to the people who would have been able to make the decision to move forward with more of it. I should have taken more pictures, been more adamant that they come to the class and see how awesome it was. I should have created video, I should have been blogging, and tweeting, and sharing about all the amazing learning experiences happening in my classroom through the use of games. I should have pointed to the grades and the evidence of learning and said “SEE. They can show me what they learned better this way than any worksheet ever could!” I just didn’t do that enough. Man. What a missed opportunity.

Please don’t make the same mistake I did. Take all the resources I just gave you and make the dam case. Be passionate - but show them the facts. Be enthusiastic, but on a foundation of research. Be excited, but back that excitement up with a reasoned argument. I wish I had done that.