Pursuing Quests: How Digital Games Can Create a Learning Journey

[Using games in a classroom has been traditionally a reward factor. Today many teachers realize that the game-based learning process has real potential to engage students. However, there’s been a problem with how to make this game-based process work as a personalized tool. Discover in this Mindshift article how two professors from Boise State developed an online system built around Quests and how K-12 teachers across the country are now tapping into this tool.]


By Paul Darvasi

Completing missions for rewards is a core mechanic in many video games, including best-sellers like “World of Warcraft,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Fallout” and “Skyrim.” Quests are diverse and optional, and players can undertake them on their own schedule. Unlike their plastic and cardboard counterparts, digital games leverage a computer’s power to manage elaborate player profiles and track complex, dynamic and personalized task structures. Now that students have increased access to computers and smartphones, the powerful digital engagement system can be put in the service of education.

Taking a page from the video game book, Dr. Chris Haskell and Dr. Lisa Dawley, from the education department at Boise State University, saw the potential for integrating quests and other game elements to deliver coursework. Six years ago, they developed 3D GameLab, a Web-based learning management system that helps run classes in a gamelike, quest-based format.

“A good quest-based curriculum meets the needs of many students by offering a multiplicity of choices that cover standards,” said Haskell.

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