Oct 04
A Gameful Approach to Project-Based Learning

"Being gameful means bringing the same psychological strengths we naturally display when we play games—such as optimism, creativity, courage, and determination—to real world situations."

Kyle_Geske.jpgThis quote from Jane McGonigal's book SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully was a game-changer for our colleague Kyle Geske.

Back in June the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) hosted its annual conference in Winnipeg. I had the privilege of taking in Kyle's session titled: “Motivation, Feedback and Epic Failure: A Gameful Approach to Project-Based Learning."

Kyle explained how he converted his IT coding course from lectures + assignments + exams to one that instead used lectures + challenges + a project.

  • The revised lectures are heavy on demonstration of foundational skills, not traditional teacher-led lectures.
  • The challenges are a series of small assessments done in pairs to allow for interim feedback on developing skills.
  • The students then complete an individual project to build an actual ecommerce platform putting their new skills into practice.

With a detailed rubric that outlines competencies, students work individually to meet (or even exceed) the requirements of the project. Project grading and guidance are doled out over four to ten in-person sessions between the learner and the teacher. Students are motivated through a public leaderboard that regularly records where students are at in demonstrating the needed skills. 

Kyle's model of I do, we do, you do leaves lots of room for failure. In fact, he models that by making mistakes in front of his students and rewards their experimentation. He also stresses that building trust between instructor and learner is key to the success of this style of course. Students must see instructors as domain experts and mentors, not simply as assessors or gatekeepers of grades.

Kyle's approach is learner-directed and Instructor-mentored. He ended his presentation with an acronym to rethink the work FAIL: First Attempt in Learning.

Game on.


Please join us in congratulating Kyle on being accepted to speak at the conference and for representing RRC well. He will also be delivering this presentation at the upcoming Science Teachers' Association of Manitoba (STAM) MTS PD Day. Click on the “sign in" button at the top right, enter your RRC credentials, and join the conversation.


Reading this gave me an ide...

Reading this gave me an idea on how to improve a project that I have coming up.  Thanks!
Picture Placeholder: Aubrey S Doerksen
  • Aubrey S Doerksen
 on 10/4/2019 8:41 AM

Kyle's teaching inspires ma...

Kyle's teaching inspires many of us! Great work, Kyle.
Picture Placeholder: Gail Horvath
  • Gail Horvath
 on 10/4/2019 9:08 AM

This is inspiring and am in...

This is inspiring and am interested in learning more! I would love to see this as a session at RED Forum next year.
Picture Placeholder: Paula Amaral
  • Paula Amaral
 on 10/4/2019 9:34 AM

I love creating project wor...

I love creating project work that is structured in stages.  That way each stage gives students an opportunity to "FAIL" and with feedback and coaching they improve and move to the next step.  Great to see this in other fields of study.
Picture Placeholder: Maria Vincenten
  • Maria Vincenten
 on 10/4/2019 9:34 AM

As a result of seeing Kyle'...

As a result of seeing Kyle's STHLE presentation on this topic, I bought the book "Super Better" and was fascinated by the applicability of many of its principles -- in both my personal and professional life. I highly recommend both the book and Kyle's presentation! Thanks for sharing your teaching for learning journey, Kyle!
Picture Placeholder: Christine E Watson
  • Christine E Watson
 on 10/4/2019 10:44 AM

I've been struggling to get...

I've been struggling to get my mindset out of the traditional approach to how law is taught (and how I learned it), and this is the exact inspiration I needed to get back to the drawing board. 
Thank you!

I cannot wait to read your book Kyle :)
Picture Placeholder: Lindsay Mulholland
  • Lindsay Mulholland
 on 10/4/2019 11:12 AM

I was fortunate to attend K...

I was fortunate to attend Kyle's inspiring session with Janine. I appreciated Kyle's long-term commitment to exploring and developing this teaching method and the fact that it didn't sprout out instantly as a finished product but rather evolved with incremental changes from year to year. It seemed to make it less daunting and more accessible for possible adaptation into my own courses.
I would second the motion to have Kyle do a presentation or workshop on this to Faculty, either at Red Forum or on it's own through the Faculty Association or CLPE.
Picture Placeholder: Michael Whalen
  • Michael Whalen
 on 10/4/2019 4:10 PM

Thank you for the kind word...

Thank you for the kind words folks and for the write-up Janine. I'd be happy to present this talk at the next Red Forum. I'd also be happy to share example rubrics and assessment spreadsheets . Email if interested.

A short game: http://bit.ly/_do_-_not_-_click_
Picture Placeholder: Kyle Geske
  • Kyle Geske
 on 10/5/2019 6:33 AM

I'd love to see Kyle presen...

I'd love to see Kyle present at RED Forum! Thank you for sharing his innovative and exciting approach, Amanda & Janine!
Picture Placeholder: Carleigh Nicole Friesen
  • Carleigh Nicole Friesen
 on 10/7/2019 9:45 AM

Kyle, you continue to be a ...

Kyle, you continue to be a leader in unconventional teaching methods. You are inspirational!
Picture Placeholder: Kirk Johnson
  • Kirk Johnson
 on 10/9/2019 1:06 PM