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Tip of the Week: Game-based learning in the social studies

oculus rift

It’s the final day of the KCHE / MOCHE Best Practices in History Education. Last session of the day? On a Friday? In downtown Kansas City just minutes from the Power and Light District? Yup. That would be me. But lots of fun cause these people are truly committed to learning.

I got the chance to lead a conversation with a full room of folks about using video games to teach social studies. We spent 90 minutes talking about reasons to use games, ways to use games, and different kinds of games – including the potential of MineCraftEDU, SimCityEDU, and serious games.

And no, 90 minutes is not enough time. It was definitely a tip of the iceberg sort of the thing.

But still a great time. My hope was that people would walk away open to the idea of looking into the idea of using video games and sims as part of their social studies instruction. In Kansas, we continue to push the idea of historical thinking skills and video games can be a huge part of that process.

My sticky idea for the presentation? Rewiring brains is a good thing. It’s how kids learn. And video games can help you rewire the brains of your kids.

Get a sense of our conversation by clicking through my short preso:

I also wanted people to know about the vast amount of resources available to help make sense of all of this. Get a bit of what I shared here. But there are a few resources that I really think can be incredibly useful for social studies teachers serious about gaming.

After my son told me that he learned more about the colonial period and about the Spanish Main by playing a video game series named Assassin’s Creed, I checked it out. And others are as well. Nicolas Trépanier at the American Historical Association site documents his use of the game as a teaching tool in a very interesting article.

I still am in love with Jeremiah McCall’s work at Teaching History and his sweet book – Gaming the Past: Using Video Games to Teach Secondary History. And a recent article at TeachThought highlights reasons why video games make sense in our classrooms. There are also more and more mobile games being released.

Your task? Play some games. Have some fun. And start rewiring some brains.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. I really enjoyed this article and I’ve shared it on twitter. Looking forward to more posts in the future.

    September 27, 2014
    • glennw #


      Thanks for the share! Appreciate it!


      September 30, 2014
  2. Reblogged this on Virtual Medicine and commented:
    Have a click through this presentation on game based learning. Really cool!

    October 18, 2014
  3. Hey Glen. This is a really great presentation on the benefits of game based learning. Really digestible and easy to read. I love the idea of an overlap between real historical facts and video games. I think a lot of my interest in the history of the World Wars was sparked due to the original Call of Duty games to be honest! And as an Australian I learnt a lot about the American Revolution from Assassin’s Creed as well.

    Great article, will share it around.

    I’m running a campaign on the benefits of video gaming as a university assignment over at &

    Would love for you to check it out!

    October 18, 2014
  4. Awesome article Glenn🙂 thanks for sharing

    November 3, 2014

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