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USF offers first computer game design course

USF offers first-ever computer-based game design course for Spring 2017. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

The world is currently being taken over by the digital age. From how people are entertained to how they function throughout the day, technology is vital in every-day life. 

The USF College of Education is keeping up with that trend by establishing the first educational computer game design course offered at the school.

The course, Game Design and Development for Learning (EME 6157) taught by Glenn Smith, an associate professor in the department of education and physiological studies, will give students skills needed in designing games used for educational instruction.

“(Student interest) is how it started, but there’s a demand for these kinds of skills in terms of jobs and careers,” Smith said. “The digital and entertainment part of the economy is booming. Everything from virtual world games to more casual gaming to educational games, it’s a big sector of the economy.”

It is a masters-level course, but undergraduate students are also able to register for the Spring semester, as it is an entry-level course in game design.

Smith said the course is open to many different disciplines due to the diverse nature of the class and the variety of skills needed in computer gaming.

“It’s set out for a diversity of different types of students and disciplines because designing educational computer games actually requires a number of different disciplines,” Smith said. “For example: designers, programmers, artists to create the visual aspects and educators. We’re opening it up to computer science students, arts students and teachers or educators that can provide the educational content.”

The class is laid out as a two-course sequence with the first focusing on game design and the second centering more around game-based assessment and analytics — how students interact with the games.

The goal is to enable students to develop ways to assist educators in teaching students from kindergarten through university level using gaming.

“There are a lot of different ways that gamification is entering our mainstream lives, so it’s important that education also has to be doing that and make learning more interactive for students,” Smith said.

“This is where society is going at some level and it’s a big part of everyday life and it’s important that education also emphasizes it because it makes learning more relevant and exciting.”

Smith said the department is still looking to expand this type of course into a certificate program in educational computer gaming or a possible minor.