Adaptive Game Design


There are two main discourses about games in school – gamification and game based learning. Neither are as new as some suggest, and both require a level of understanding and development that is difficult for classroom teachers to pull off – given the current demands of being face to face instructors. While courses and units can be put into a ‘blended’ online format, most practice revolves around using online ‘content’ to supplement a lesson or creating new resources to ‘flip’ the classroom and extend the school day. There are examples of truly innovative work, using MUVES and MOOs, but not in recent times.

So here I’m talking about mashing up game design, instructional design and adaptive learning theories and methods to create flexible blended learning frameworks.

Adaptive game design approaches take theory from games and cultures to create new frameworks to engage students in learning experiences which are linked in some way. Perhaps they are linear and incremental, perhaps branching. The design of these are geared towards the kind of experience needed (to learn) and to play. Therefore some frames are about analysis (problem solving) others are for comprehension of challenges.

An adaptive game design approach allows a teacher to use technology as well as corporeal space – towards a more flexible delivery of learning which is not welded to the sermons of PBL or any other ‘model’. At the same time, it draws upon proven methods of instructional design, gaming, challenge, scenario, problem and enquiry.

The key to delivery is in being able to create adaptive frameworks for teachers to use easily in the design of learning activities. Think of how games allow players to create different ‘load-outs’ for game-play. These allow them to play in different strategic ways.