Welcome to stop #12 on Karl Kapp’s blog book tour for Gadgets, Games, and Gizmos for Learning.


Although Karl’s book is generally focused on knowledge transfer in the corporate world, I’m finding a wealth of ideas for my work in the academic arena as well. Chapter 2: It’s In The Game and Chapter 3: The Virtual Apprentice both got my attention because they are really about the instructional design and the pedagogy behind developing games for learning. Karl separates knowledge into six levels and provides examples of games at each level.

  • Declarative
  • Concepts
  • Rules
  • Procedures
  • Principles
  • Problem Solving

However, his examples are primarily related to business, so I found myself thinking about how to apply that to my own work in academics. Because the courses I develop are for K-12 teachers, my examples tend to be in that area. I hope that this will help spark some ideas for you to see how you can build on the examples Karl has given and apply them in your own work.

For each of the 6 levels, I’m going to give a brief description of what type of content is covered, a business example from Karl’s book, and an education example.


This is the lowest level knowledge: facts, jargon, and acronyms. Use casual games to teach it (word search, crossword puzzles, Jeopardy, matching, etc.)
Business example: Word search with terminology related to effective communication
Education example: Matching game with learning theories and people who developed them (match the person to the theory)


Conceptual knowledge roughly corresponds to the comprehension or understanding level of Bloom’s. It’s deeper than just memorizing definitions; it’s about putting related ideas or things together.
Business example: Sorting game to sort business mail into categories: Confidential, Personal, Business, and Bulk.
Education example: Sorting game to identify primary and secondary sources (this is something I hope to actually develop for my course about online primary sources)


Rules are “relationships between two or more concepts” by Karl’s definition. Something in the format “If A happens, do B” is a rule.
Business example: Board game to teach inventory rules (answer questions right to advance on the board)
Education example: Basic statistics information for analyzing research could be taught in a game. If the data looks like X, there’s a positive correlation so you can do Y. (I’m not sure about this one–I admit the idea of rules that are always the same for teachers was harder for me to come up with. I suppose you could do something within a particular district in new teacher orientation for the rules for reporting discipline incidents.)


Sequence of steps to complete a process
Business example: Simulation of a physical procedure for running manufacturing equipment
Education example: Software simulations (for the LMS, creating a blog, recording and publishing a podcast, using Skype, etc.)


Guidelines that don’t have a specific order to be followed. Which guideline you follow depends on the context.
Business example: Social simulator with an open-ended work environment to practice leadership skills
Education example: Social simulator with an open-ended classroom environment to practice supporting different learning styles or student needs. (This is borderline between principles and problem-solving in my mind; it could go either way depending on how you set up the simulation.)

Problem Solving

Apply what you already know to a new situation to solve a problem. This is about scenarios and cases; it should involve identifying the right problem as well as solving it.
Business example: Simulation for managing a virtual team. (Karl also has an example of teaching Spanish by dropping people into a virtual world where they interact with people. I loved this idea and think it could be either for business or educational environments.)
Education example: Classroom simulation with various discipline and learning problems to practice classroom management skills.

These idea are all just jumping-off points, but I do feel like I’m starting see a number of different ways games could be integrated into the courses I develop. Granted, I’ve got a lot of logistical issues to work out, but reading the book is opening up possibilities. I’d love to hear from anyone who has successfully developed games for their classrooms, especially in an academic environment.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

6 thoughts on “GGG4L: Academic Applications

  1. Hi Karl,

    I had no idea a classroom simulation was already out there. I will definitely spend some time checking that out.

    Good instructional design is certainly needed regardless of whether it’s corporate, higher ed, K-12, non-profit, or whatever. An engaging game that doesn’t teach the right things will still teach something–just not what you wanted students to learn.

  2. Christy,

    An interesting school simulation is SimSchool which provides great information for someone trying to learn the ins and out of a classroom and is similar to the spanish game which a demo can be downloaded at 3D Language: Spanish

    Check out this games to decide for yourself if they are problem-solving, procedures or even principles (I think several categories can be covered) and…fun!

    (Edited by CT to fix the links)

  3. Christy,

    Great job mapping the games to more of an academic flavor. Thanks for your input on this. Last time I taught in a middle school was over 20 (ugh) years ago as an undergraduate student teacher.

    I think it is important for people to realize that good game design (lioke god instructional design)requires consideration of the content and what you are trying to teach.

    Thanks for being a great stop on the tour and if any one has any other ideas about what types of game would fit what type of content, please input a comment.

Leave a Reply