One of most exciting educational developments in learning with technology is epistemic games largely promoted by David Williamson Shaffer and the Epistemic Game group at the University of Wisconsin. Paul Gee (ASU), Kurt Squire (UWisc-Madison), Eric Klopfer (MIT), and David’s epistemic game group have produced a sizable body of evidence in support of using games in instruction. David’s group, however, has focused on the epistemic game framework (see peer-reviewed studies – http://epistemicgames.org/eg/category/publications/peer-reviewed/). What’s absent in the research from a practitioner’s or designer’s standpoint is some of the more pragmatic aspects of epistemic game design such as the scalability of games they’ve designed, etc. In the following video (compliments of Drexel University), David begins to address some of these questions.
In short, epistemic games are computer-mediated games that require students to take on fictitious roles in order to understand how to think and act like professionals such as engineers, urban planners, etc.. One of the primary differences in epistemic game curricula and traditional didactic instruction is that the tasks that epistemic game participants are often complex tasks with multiple solutions. Game participants (students) learn to use the content in the framework of solving real-world problems as they learn to take on the identities of professionals while acting in these roles.