Taught by Prof. Joe Bisz and the managers of CUNY Games Network

ClassRiverCrabs3I’m trying to see if there’s enough interest for the CUNY Games Network and I to offer an online game design course for college and high school teachers.

When I say “game design,” I don’t mean video games. I mean designing our own simple board, card, and discussion games to implement in our non-digital classroom. We’ll do this by studying a powerful pedagogy called game-based learning, which examines the learning principles in games, and shows us how to apply them to our exercises, all with the noble goal of increasing student engagement and performance.

alphaplaytestA bit about me: I travel all over the country to present workshops at colleges and conferences on precisely this topic—that’s how strongly I believe in this pedagogy. (I even designed a game to do this called What’s Your Game Plan?). I like to give interactive demonstrations and game models that are immediately applicable to any instructional method. In my classes, you won’t be bored by overly theoretical, semiotic discussions of terms like “emergent play” and “discernable actions”; my sole teaching purpose is to show you the practical nature of game design.

To allow for full participation, our cap is 50 students. It will be a very social class, with everyone chiming in weekly with our unique discipline perspectives on teaching students. We may be able to meet each other face-to-face at the CUNY Games Conference in 2016 (http://cunygames.org), though this is optional. There’s no pressure to finish all of the assignments; just do what you can. You also needn’t be worried about your lack of game knowledge; game mechanics are simply our inspiration. The course is more for teachers who find it intriguing to create educational exercises that are as clever as possible.

Sounds good? Then please join an announcement-only email list, which you can unsubscribe from anytime. I will email you ONLY once it looks like the class is large enough to happen. At that point, you can decide whether to register for the class or not. Again, if you’re potentially interested, please join the email list: this is not a commitment to register for the class, but it’s the only way I can contact you, and the class won’t happen unless I get at least 25 people. (If you are a workforce trainer and not a teacher, you can just this list as well, but yours will be a separate class.)


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Length and Time: 4-6 weeks. Offered either in the summer, or October through November.

Format: Fully online course; not for credit; less than 50 students. We would likely access the course through a unique achievement-based learning management software of my design called Levelfly.

Participants: Teachers and instructional designers at the high school and college level only; based anywhere in the world; all communication must be in English.

Instructors: Mostly taught by me, but also by my fellow directors of the City University of New York (CUNY) Games Network, a group that connects educators from all disciplines who are interested in games, simulations, and other forms of interactive teaching. See https://games.commons.gc.cuny.edu .

Workload: A little less than a 3 hour-per-week graduate class. But you can do as much as you like.

Cost: Less than $200.

Take-away and Certificate: You will complete (or almost complete) the design of at least one non-digital game that you can teach by yourself. You will finish idea outlines for many other games, based upon a rigorous schema of principles and mechanics. You will identify opportunities for future collaboration with your fellow faculty-students. Finally, since the CUNY Games Network has seen that more and more school administrators are recognizing the value of their faculty receiving professional development training, we are offering a special certificate, signed by us, to all participants who complete 100% of the course content.

Please spread the word about this class to interested parties!


I’m also looking for sponsors, particularly foundations and publishers, who would help me to offer this class for free. I estimate I’d need about $13,000. Potential sponsors should write me directly at:



*Several units on using game learning principles and mechanics to create our own educational games

*Unit on collecting data and assessment of your new games

*Unit on using badges and experience point systems to reward student behaviors

*Unit on using easy software tools to build or organize your games (MS-Word, Powerpoint)

*Unit on using game mechanics to promote information literacy and research skills

*Unit on using game-based learning for your own professional development (publishing, conferences, etc.)

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