Each year, graduate teaching fellows design and facilitate a workshop as part of their work with the Center for Teaching. In this Q&A, we feature Gordon Louie, a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Higher Education & Student Affairs program.

Gordon’s workshop, Serious Learning Through Fun and Games: Considerations for Gamifying Your Course, will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, April 16. 

Why did you select this topic?

There’s a common saying in academia that research is oftentimes “me” search. Games have been a big part of my life since I was young, as I’m sure is the case with many others. I grew up as a generation 1.5 Chinese American, having come to the U.S. at a young age. From an educational lens, one of the ways I initially tried to overcome challenges like a language barrier was to build friendships over shared mediums like games with other kids at school. As we grow older, we’re often socialized to associate play as something antithetical to the “serious work” of academics and study. At the same time, instructors at various levels of the educational pipeline struggle with how to better engage students in and out of the classroom.

There is now growing popularity in integrating game-based learning into the classroom, leveraging the connective and engaging elements of gameplay as a pedagogical approach to complement discipline-specific content. The video game and tabletop/board game industries have seen tremendous growth, and esports in educational settings is becoming increasingly common. If, as educators, we aim to meet students where they are, integrating game-based elements into our pedagogical repertoire can be one way to create more dynamic learning environments.

What knowledge or skill do you hope participants gain?

The workshop will be a quick introduction to game-based learning principles. We will engage with the meaning of game-based and get into some of the academic literature as well as some considerations for practice that have come out of recent work. Finally, we will consider ways educators can integrate game-based learning principles and/or practices into their teaching and share reflections with each other.

Is there anything else you'd like people to know about the workshop?

Games are just one medium through which we might better connect with students. This workshop will not only get participants excited about the possibilities of game-based learning but have them think of other mediums they can weave into their teaching as well. The phrase “nerd out” is often used to denote something we are passionate about—and part of the aim here is to get your students passionate about learning by connecting it to ways of teaching that are authentically you. I certainly nerd out about games—what do you nerd out about that you can share with your students?

Register for Serious Learning Through Fun and Games: Considerations for Gamifying Your Course.