Level Up Your Instruction: Creative Approaches to Designing Classroom Games

Brief Abstract

Studies have shown that students typically require multiple exposures to material before learning and retention take place, yet instruction librarians typically find themselves working within the constraints of one-shot interactions with students. Faced with the typical constraint of one-shot information literacy sessions, academic librarians have embraced this challenge, seeking creative methods for incorporating active learning into their classrooms in ways that are both pedagogically sound, as well as engaging for students. The usage of gaming and gamification is one method that has the potential to provide librarians with inventive, powerful, and flexible new approaches to reimagining their instruction. Game design can often seem intimidating, however, in this workshop, the presenters propose to make game design more accessible by breaking the process down into concrete, manageable steps, sparking ideas, inspiration, and dialogue. Using principles rooted in cognitive constructivism and backwards design, the presenters have developed or refined high-impact, flexible games to tackle a range of subjects and issues such as citations, academic integrity, and library orientations. These have included games utilizing open source or free tools such as Instagram and Twine, an interactive storytelling tool, and games modeled after smartphone apps, e.g., an Instagram-based scavenger hunt and a Twine-based Choose Your Own Adventure game. We will also discuss “low tech” approaches such as paper scavenger hunts, board games, and powerpoint-based games. Attendees will walk away with the beginning stages of a game tailored to their Library, institutional goals, constituent populations, and resources.The presenters will break their workshop into several parts: --Theory: Overview of best practices and tips for game design in library instruction, based on the literature and the presenters’own experiences --Practice: The presenters will briefly discuss some of the games they have created, popular free and open source tools and give the audience a chance to play one of their games and critique it.--Create: The presenters will walk attendees through several exercises intended to facilitate the creation of their own games, including an exercise to use backwards design and the Framework to generate learning outcomes for their potential games. As a result of this session, attendees will be able to: --Articulate best practices for designing and assessing pedagogically sound games. --Adapt presented ideas and recommendations in order to customize our games or use the tools discussed to create new games at one’s home institution


Camille Chesley is a Reference Librarian and Subject Librarian for Journalism at the University at Albany Libraries. She received her MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her BA in East Asian Studies from Oberlin College. Her research interests include gaming and gamification in library instruction, information literacy assessment, critical librarianship, and diversity and inclusion in LIS.
Tarida Anantachai is a Learning Commons Librarian at the Syracuse University Libraries, where she provides general and interdisciplinary reference, instruction, and outreach with a focus on undergraduate services. She also serves as the Libraries’ liaison to her campus’ international student services center and English language institute. She received her MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her BA in English and American Literature from Brandeis University. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion, early career development, and outreach programming.

Extended Abstract