Insights from the Field: Game-based Learning with Ryan Straight


OLC Institute for Professional Development

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Gamification and Game-Based Learning Workshop

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators, and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended, and digital learning. This week, Dr. Ryan Straight, OLC Institute SME and faculty for the Designing Game-Based Learning workshop, joins us to answer our questions about this new workshop.

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC and which Institute course(s) do you facilitate for OLC?

I was drawn to OLC because of the people. I had (and have) the pleasure of working with others involved in OLC and even went to college with someone involved with OLC (small world!). So far for OLC I’ve taught workshops on Screencasting and Designing Gamified Learning Environments but I’m building and teaching the new Designing Game-Based Learning workshop where attendees actually build a game. It’s a great time!

OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the Game-Based Learning workshop and other OLC workshops you are facilitating?

There are some important things participants in my workshops should know. 

For those who sign up for Designing Game-Based Learning, attendees should know that 

  1. game-based learning is NOT gamification, 
  2. just about anything can be a game, and 
  3. you should manage your expectations (a single person isn’t going to make an AAA game in their spare time, but you can make something amazing if you have some passion for it)

For the Designing Gamified Learning Environments workshop, attendees should know I

  1. have been playing games since I was young enough to mow lawns and shovel snow to purchase an NES game at Toys R’ Us for $70 (it was a long time ago), 
  2. gamify a number of my own university courses that I’ve designed, myself, and 
  3. encourage my attendees to get as bonkers as they want to get without worrying about whether things work on paper (you’ll learn through testing, don’t worry). 

For the Screencasting workshop, attendees should know that I’m a) a bit of a hardware geek, b) I tend to go overboard with my tools, and c) I’m the first to try out new and even unrelated software and services just to see if they’d be useful for you.

OLC: Where do you see game-based learning going in the next five years?

It’s all about augmented reality. When game-based learning gets truly and effectively integrated with ubiquitous augmented reality, the game will truly have been changed (if you’ll pardon the pun).

OLC: Why should people enroll in your workshops?

Anyone who’s had me in class, whether that’s my college courses or in a professional development workshop, will tell you that I’m always excited and curious about our topic. If you want to have a great time and learn some amazing stuff, my courses would be the spot!

OLC: What projects/research are you currently engaged in?

I’m currently in a million different projects, most of which are service-related as I’ve suddenly found myself being Faculty Forum President for our college this year. Of course, there’s always my podcast, The New Professor ( and my up-and-coming YouTube channel Inkademic (

OLC: What was the last book, journal or article you read that relates to the field?

I’m in the process of reading Re-engineering Humanity by Brett Frischmann and Evan Selinger, a brilliant text on what technology is doing to us as a species and as thinking beings.

OLC: How can people connect with you? 

Feel free to connect with me at my website or just on Twitter at @ryanstraight.

Ryan Straight

Dr. Ryan Straight

Dr. Ryan Straight is currently Assistant Professor of Educational Technology at the University of Arizona where he is also a Faculty Fellow and Honors Professor. He holds a PhD in Instructional Technology from Ohio University, where he also earned his MEd in Cultural Studies in Education and a BS.Ed in Integrated Language Arts. He teaches fully online at the undergraduate and graduate levels in topics like game design and development, human-computer interaction, designing online learning environments, and statistics and data visualization. Dr. Straight also serves as a Social Media Advisor for ISTE and writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education on mobile learning technologies, augmented reality, and social presence in online education. He lives in Tucson with his wife and three dogs.


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