Prof to Kick Off MOOC with Webinar


An MCLA faculty member who's among the first wave of educators to try a new way to teach will kick off a monthlong MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) about game-based learning with a webinar at 2 p.m. EST. on June 26.

One of the early practitioners of this method of teaching, Dr. Gerol Petruzella '01 - also the coordinator of academic technology at the College - will discuss his experience in designing, building and teaching an introductory philosophy course as "Dungeons & Discourse," a quest-based, role-playing game.

"Game Elements for Learning" will be presented throughout the month of July by Academic Partnerships on In addition to his webinar kick off, Petruzella also will write an article for the series, and participate in a "Tweet Chat" on Twitter.

Although the hour-long webinar is geared toward educators who are interested in using game design in their pedagogy, the presentation is free and open to everyone.

In addition to discussing his "Dungeons & Discourse" course, "I'll also speak more broadly about what sorts of principles make game-based learning an effective pedagogy, and what it's like to take an existing curriculum and rethink it in terms of game design principles - what works, what doesn't work, and what are some analogies that can be made between elements of teaching and elements of game play," Petruzella said.

Through his webinar, educators of all content areas will learn how they might adapt their own courses to be taught as a game.

"This is really across the board," Petruzella explained. "In some of the research I'm doing to prepare for this, you can go back and there was scholarship in the 1970s about developing games in the curriculum for environmental science, education and sociology. So, it's not really restricted at all for any particular discipline. It's the sort of thing that works in a lot of different contexts."

He also will share some ideas and resources educators may turn to as they start to design their own game-based learning course.

"The great thing about this is it's something that's available to anyone who teaches. You don't need to go to anyone else to do it for you. It's the sort of thinking and planning that you can do in your own course," Petruzella said.

He sees a bright future for game-based learning.

"I don't think that college is going to turn into a 'gaming console' anytime in the future, but I think that the best educational experiences will take advantage of game elements more and more as we go."

What are the advantages?

Petruzella says a game environment is very good at setting a clear goal for students as it provides them with a sense of purpose or direction. And, because games have a clear set of rules, students learn to think strategically about how to act within the rule set.

"Thirdly, games are really great at building a feedback system, which is critically important in education, too, in terms of motivation," he continued. "Lastly, essential to the business of the game, is that it's voluntary. People play games because they want to. If someone forces you to play a game, it's not really a game, but that business of voluntary participation is something that we want to promote as much as we can and use in the classroom, as well."

For more information and to register for Petruzella's MOOC, go to