Game-Based Learning

Experiential Approach: Role Playing and Media Analysis Games

Gory videos make the dangers of bad driving real, but driving simulations help students learn from virtual experiences without causing harm. Online games can expose participants to different types of misinformation and guide them through the skills required to make informed judgements about information .Simulations are powerful because they select from complex environments to provide cues and outcomes that reinforce the aspects students need to become aware of. A “choose your own adventure” offers choices and paths that train the user in the logic and values embedded in the text.

While some teachers can call on “Dungeons and Dragons” backgrounds to improvise simulations or create CYOAs with Twine, it is hard to compete with a well-designed and rich simulation that provides students with situations and information to respond to, accessing the skills and strategies they have developed as gamers. Games can provide experiences for forming concepts and skills, or for demonstrating their attainment. Nature published a large-scale study of one such game, Bad News, that improves the ability to spot and resist misinformation.

Games are also uniquely motivating and absorbing for today's students. An ideal educational simulation for inclusion in Fake News Fitness would:

  1. Have clear learning targets that position the game within an intentional sequence of lessons

  2. Include pre- and post- tests to measure achievement of learning targets, including skills, knowledge and attitudes.

  3. Meeting adolescent needs for social connection, self-efficacy, and fun.

However, we believe games should not be used as standalone learning. Students do not trust that simulations reflect the real world and can prepare them for it (they know it’s “only a game”). Even if there are immediate post-game impacts, the "staying power" of these lessons should hook in to intrinsic motivation in the context of developing civic identity.


iCivics: NewsFeed Defenders (see Game Guide)

NewsFeed Defenders is a simulation game. Many schools block social media sites, and for those that do not, creating a class account to discover and react to content might take a long time to bear fruit. A simulation can simplify and filter to prompt players with opportunities that are a match for the instructional goals and their reading levels.

NewsFeed Defenders is designed to sharpen students' news literacy skills. Players take on the role of content moderators in a fictional social media site focused on news and information. They select one of three topics (Health and Wellness, Student Life and Sports) and review posts in a feed, investigating and taking actions where they see a need. They learn to recognize elements of high-quality journalism and markers of deceptive posts, including those that sneak in through hidden ads, viral deception, and false reporting.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify markers of accuracy, transparency, trustworthiness, and impartiality.

  • Define and identify problematic news items, and other news-related types of misinformation.

  • Explain a variety of strategies to verify images and information.

  • Evaluate text for bias based on word choices and framing methods.

  • Use third-party information to judge the credibility of a source.

List of Media Literacy Games (Unreviewed as yet): AirTable