Playful Learning is here

This post was written by Lauren B. Collister, librarian-publisher and scholar at the University of Pittsburgh

Do you remember what it was like to play?

Playful Learning is a nationwide initiative to promote the the use of games in education, offering a free online portal for teachers to explore the use of games for learning. Wondering how games can be useful in educational contexts? Check out their justifications for the use of games in the classroom, including such mainstays as increasing student engagement and enabling trial-and-error “freedom to fail” learning.

The site has a brand new beta available for perusal, and although reviews and community content are scarce so far, you can see that this site is ready to be a go-to tool for including educational play in the classroom.

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Playful Learning isn’t just a search tool — it’s a community of educators and game creators working together to incorporate games into the educational toolkit. Not only can you discover the games that can help in your classroom, but you can have access to lesson plans, implementations, and other resources created and shared by educators.

Over 100 games have been added to the database so far. They are categorized in roughly a dozen ways, including by genre, target age range, learning topics, cost model, typical play timescale, and even whether they provide some form of quantitative or qualitative assessment reporting tool. Start by searching for your field, using broad terms to get many options returned. Here’s an example search for games relevant to math:

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From this page, you can click on a game to see information about it and get ideas for how to incorporate it into your classroom. For instance, check out the page for Civilization IV:

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The landing page for a game includes screenshots of the game in action, a brief summary, a description of learning topics, and (eventually) reviews from teachers who have used the game in their class.

Scrolling down, you can find an example of how to implement this game in your classroom. This includes learning standards that the game can help achieve, goals for the use of the game in the classroom, and a step-by-step guide for creating a suggested lesson plan to use the game. It also includes ideas for assessment using the game as well as potential pitfalls. Finally, there is a discussion forum for educators to collaborate on creating resources to incorporate these games in the classroom.

Playful Learning includes both free online games and games that require a purchase or a subscription. It’s still in beta, but I encourage everyone to take a look and start contributing to this fantastic new resource.

Creative Commons License
Playful Learning is here by Lauren Collister is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.