About the Teacher Institute 2014

Virginia Commonwealth University is hosting a free teacher institute, June 23-27, 2014 (now closed for new applicants) providing professional development for Virginia K-12 art educators to learn and teach digital game design as a new media art form. The week-long summer institute, will instruct art teachers from across Virginia in digital game making, exposing art educators to a game design curriculum that can be delivered in their art classrooms. The institute is designed and led by art instructors who have taught digital game design to students ages 8 – 18, using the game curriculum model Dr. Ryan Patton has developed over eight years for elementary and secondary students while working at the Smithsonian.

Learning outcomes for art educators participating in the institute include:

  • Increased ability and confidence in incorporating technology and games in instruction, and assessing related student performance.

  • Increased pedagogical skill for teaching hands-on learning with digital games and media.

  • Positive perceptions of increased student knowledge and skills in areas addressed by the game modules.

Learning outcomes for K-12 students who receive instruction in game design include:

  • The student can create games and other digital media using digital tools and techniques for individual creative expression.

  • The student can analyze and critique games, recognizing the aesthetic decisions made by designers in game production.

  • The student can use programmable media as a creative art tool.

The institute will train teachers in game design skills and digital media making (animation, sound production, interactive design, physical computing & creative code), providing essential knowledge that can be deployed in the art classroom to instruct students in the creation of multiple forms of digital content. Using proven teacher and professional development models, the institute’s curriculum aligns with national educational standards in visual and media arts across grade levels such as understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes; using knowledge of structures and functions; and choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas.

Pedagogical topics specific to game design include:

  • Student misconceptions of how games work

  • Game mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics

  • Examples of exemplary games from a variety of sources

  • Artists who work in the game medium

  • Developing and restructuring of lesson plans, differentiating instruction, and forms of assessment.

Throughout the week of the institute, participants will be asked to think about these concepts in their workshop activities, using this knowledge to learn and develop their own curricular modules that can be carried out during the school year.

The institute prepares art educators to effectively assess game making as a learning activity. For example, participants will learn how to evaluate the design features of student game projects and the level of skill and knowledge indicated by these features. During the fall of 2014, VCU’s institute will provide on-site support to teachers; helping teachers integrate the curriculum modules into their classrooms and assess student-learning outcomes.