Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 11.127J Computer Games and Simulations for Education and Exploration as it was taught by Professor Eric Klopfer in Spring 2015.

This course immerses students in the process of building and testing their own digital and board games in order to better understand how we learn from games. We explore the design and use of games in the classroom in addition to research and development issues associated with computer–based (desktop and handheld) and non–computer–based media. In developing their own games, students examine what and how people learn from them (including field testing of products), as well as how games can be implemented in educational settings.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Develop and investigate systems and ideas from one’s field of study while exploring the process of building and testing models in games and simulations
  • Explore various approaches to learning with games and simulations, criteria for developing the most appropriate simulation/model/game mechanics for a given situation, and methods for evaluating the success and utility of models
  • Consider what and how people learn from simulations, and how modeling tools can be implemented in public school settings

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied

  • HASS
  • HASS-H  


Every spring semester

Instructor Insights

"Students really need to have ownership of their learning. They need to do a lot of research for their games—and that research may be in domains I know little about. I tell students they should take the course only if they are ready for this kind of experience."
—Eric Klopfer


Eric Klopfer, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning and Director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program (Image by MIT OpenCourseWare).

In the following pages, Professor Eric Klopfer describes various aspects of how he teaches 11.127J Computer Games and Simulations for Education and Exploration.


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 15% Game curriculum presentation/paper
  • 25% Chapter presentation and class participation
  • 25% Board game prototype/presentation/paper
  • 10% Gamer profile/presentation
  • 25% Presentations and participation

Instructor Insights on Assessment

Please see Form and Function of Teamwork in the Course and Tips for Facilitating a Project-based Course.

Student Information

19 students took this course in spring 2015.

Breakdown by Year

Mostly juniors and seniors

Breakdown by Major

Typically, students come from a variety majors and areas of study, including education, computer science, and comparative media studies.

Typical Student Background

Many of the students have usually taken or are taking courses about education and/or games. Other students do not necessarily have this background, but are interested in ways they might apply their skills beyond the typical industries they encounter in their fields. We also attract students who have a passion for their knowledge domains and who are interested in figuring out better ways to communicate that content to other people.

Enrollment Cap


How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class/Lecture

  • Met 2 times a week for 1.5 hours per session; 26 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • Sessions were interactive and discussion-based; some sessions included guest speakers.


In lab, students designed, tested, and improved a board game and a digital game. 

Out of Class

  • Students completed weekly readings in preparation for class sessions. Readings provided background on key issues in the class and insights that could be used by students to make their own games more successful.
  • Short writing assignments
  • Gamer profile assignment

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2015
Learning Resource Types
Projects with Examples
Instructor Insights