Instructional Technology Masters Student
College of Education
Presentation is based on David Williamson Shaffer’s
book “How Computer Games Help Children to Learn”
• Problem in our education system
• Epistemic Games
• Elements of Epistemic frames
• Epistemic frames
• Is it really a Game?
• Example of Epistemic Games :Digital Zoo
• Example of Epistemic Games :Urban Science
• Building Epistemic games: Epistemography
• More Information about games and Learning
Problem in our education system
• Currently our Education is about
– giving the learner basic skills
– Preparing students to score well in
• Basic skills jobs no longer exist
• We should raise the bar on educational
• Our kids and our economy will be left
• They are a way to help students learn
to think like professionals.
• they are based on what we already
know about how people learn to be
• how thinking is used to solve real
problems in the world outside of the
• This concept is based on the idea of
– New way of thinking about thinking
– the way of thinking and working of a
profession or other community of
– entails a situated and action-based
form of learning based on the ways in
which professionals develop these
Elements of Epistemic frame
• 5 elements of Epistemic frame are
– values &
• professionals organize their work
around these epistemic frames
• professionals use them to think in
Is it really a Game?
•The definition of a game from Rules of
Play: Game Design Fundamentals book
A game is a system
In which players
engaged in an artificial conflict
defined by rules
That results in a quantifiable outcome
Is it really a Game?
• Epistemic games are role playing games
• It is system
• A number of players involved in game play
• Engaged in an accurate simulation of real-life
– overcome obstacle to achieve the goal
• Defined by rules same as the ones in real life
• May or may not have a quantifiable outcome
– The experience is considered more important
– Learning through experience/interactions of
Examples of Epistemic Games
• A game developed at the
University of Wisconsin
• Players become biomechanical
engineers and design virtual
• Uses Sodaconstructor
– a virtual spring-mass modeling
– Players advance from one level of
the game by producing designs
Example of Epistemic Games
• Very similar to commercial
• Why not use SimCity?
– SimCity is not an epistemic game.
• Role-playing game of
professional urban planning.
• designed to re-create an urban
• iPlan is the epistemic game
engine used in Urban Science
Building Epistemic games:
• Build based on the way professionals develop
skills – Practica
• By analyzing practicum through
– By looking at the kind of actions and kind of
reflection-on-action that develops the epistemic
frame of the profession.
• How can we make these learning practices
available for other through games.
The following questions are asked when
designing an epistemic game.
– What is worth being able to do in the world?
– Who knows how to do this kind of things
and how do they learn how to do it?
– How can we make these learning practices
available for the others?
• Technology that can create simulations.
More Information about games
• Details on all of these games are
available at Shaffer's Web site,