Course Description: ETEC565

Instructors: Drs. Suzanne de Castell & Jennifer Jenson

Email addresses: &

Where: Food Nutritional and Health Building Rooms 40 & 50

Office hours: Any time, just email, we can chat on phone, in person, on zoom, and so on, we are flexible

Digital games are the creative medium of the 21stcentury – they are played on phones, on tablets, dedicated desktops and consoles, and by millions of adults and children worldwide. They are also the single fastest growing creative industry on the planet, in North America alone, the digital games market is expected to grow up to 10% (across all sectors – mobile, PC and console) in 2019 alone. Concomitantly, education, and in particular teachers, have been slow to not only understand the educational value of digital games, but also to integrate these media in teaching and learning ecologies. This, despite the fact that empirical studies on digital games and learning have shown that they provide a highly engaging activity, do demonstrate learning gains, as well as have rich potential as media to support differentiated learning and instruction. This Institute will examine questions specific to digital games through the lenses of learning and pedagogy. In particular, we will examine literature on digital games and learning, the scant literature on digital games and pedagogies, and create a community of practice in which to experiment with these highly engaging digital media. This Institute addresses a large gap borne out by recent research on digital games and learning: teachers, who by and large have limited to no experience of digital games, also struggle to recognize what is learned through playing them. By addressing this gap, the Institute will also address one of the central tenets of the new B.C. curriculum – digital literacies – as not all children and youth have or will have played games, and yet it is the modus operandi of the 21stcentury, used in training, jobs, and social and cultural life. The questions this institute will address are: how do we create learning environments that support both play and making digital games?  How do we recognize, document, and assess engagement and learning through digital game play? And, what are the creative and computational possibilities of learning through making games? This institute will begin to answer these questions through an intensive, week-long immersion in digital games, learning, and pedagogy. What will you do? You will play games, talk about games, review games, read literature on games and learning, and experiment (safety net deployed) with making your own game in small groups. In the end, you will also have a games and learning unit (if you are a teacher) to take into your own classroom and try on your own. 

Learning Objectives

In this course you will:

  • review the literature related to digital games, learning and pedagogy
  • encounter theories and practices related to game design in general
  • apply those theories to your own design practices
  • play games, think about games, experiment with what games you enjoy or do not and why/why not
  • explore the design and develop of your own digital game
  • extrapolate from your own design process what you think is meaningfully ‘learned’ through game play and game design