A Look Back at the 2018 Gameful Learning Summer Institute

Evan Straub, Learning Experience Designer

About a month ago, I shared  some thoughts previewing the 2018 Gameful Learning Summer Institute (GLSI) . One of the key things I took away from this year’s keynote, Erin Baumann, Assistant Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy for the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, was the importance of debriefing and reflection in simulations. Active engagement can be absorptive, overloading all of our immediate resources. Without a debrief, we risk reinforcing the wrong information, highlighting experiences that may have been taken for granted or chalking something up to “fun” without meaning. So now that the lunch boxes have been cleared away and all the quarters have been spent at the arcade, it is time to time to reflect.

For me, part of that reflection has been taking in the photos and reading the comments from participants. Viewing these highlights through the lens of my colleagues surfaced some of the truly amazing things that took place that I might have missed otherwise. Below you will see some of the captured moments from the Institute. One thing that struck me – most of the attendees were strangers when this event started. Yet, the sense of community, collegiality and smiles on the faces of our attendees comes through in these pictures (even if one is participating remotely). We believe that learning is hard work, but can also be enjoyable!

Erin Baumann speaking from podium


“Failure is no longer viewed as failure.  It is still progress towards a goal”


“The practical applications of gamifying [courses] – the “this is how we did it and it worked” was powerful.  Not just theory – actual ways they accomplished it.”



Attendees engaged in discussion


“The last two days have encouraged me that a lot of higher education professionals are creatively and critically thinking of new ways to engage students and inspire learning.  I also met a lot of colleagues that are doing a lot of unique things to get students thinking about new ways to learn”




Virtual and in-person attendees interacting



“It was a delightful experience to meet folks who have a passion for learning, sharing and helping us all succeed.  I will miss everyone!”




Attendees gathered outside conference room



“I appreciated the variety of activities throughout the conference.  Starting with the improv and storytelling really helped activate creativity and openness to all other discussions”




Attendees working on Gradecraft


“Once upon a time I used a fixed syllabus that told students what to do and when.  Then I went to the Gameful Learning conference which reinforced my belief that students need to own their education and make their own learning choices to make the most of their education”



Student panelists laughing


“My favorite was the Student’s view of gameful – I enjoyed soliciting feedback from students!”




Attendees playing pinball together


“I had a huge fear of going to a conference by myself – then I did it!  And made friends and colleagues! I learned that pinball can be multiplayer, there are so many ways to encourage play in our classes and life”




The 2018 Gameful Learning Summer Institute continues to grow and serve as an opportunity for educators to expand their network while gaining knowledge around all things gameful. We look forward to continuing this event in the Summer of 2019 and hope to see you there. Stay tuned!

Learn more and register for the 2019 Gameful Learning Summer Institute! 

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