Using Games to Teach Global Interconnectedness

In the fall of 2014, Matthew Farber, a middle school social studies teacher, created a project-based learning (PBL) unit with essential questions supported by tabletop and digital games. The PBL centered on the Columbian Exchange, the intentional and unintentional exchange of goods, ideas, and diseases between Europe and the New World. Farber consulted Matt Leacock, designer of the award-winning cooperative tabletop game Pandemic, and designers from GlassLab, publishers of SimCityEDU. As a result, a mix of digital games (i.e., SimCityEDU and Pox: Save the People), along with the board game Pandemic, was used to teach themes of global interconnectedness and systems thinking competencies. After the project concluded, students continues to displayed the ability to be systems thinkers, such as the role the Silk Road network played in the spread of the Black Death from Asia to Europe.


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