Awesome Serious Game Grad Certificate Students Enrich Learning for All

My job as an instructor and coordinator of Michigan State University’s fully online graduate certificate in serious games is to create a course structure and community of learners that leverages the unique expertise and interests of each student to enrich learning for all.

Those who were available joined the end of semester online meetup for the fully online section of TC830: Foundations of Serious Games

Those who were available joined the end of semester online meetup for the fully online section of TC830: Foundations of Serious Games

I love teaching classes where at least one student knows more about each topic than I do. It helps me remember to make opportunities to for students to share their expertise a fundamental element of the class structure.

I love teaching classes of students with diverse backgrounds and personal learning goals. I have taught the fully online TC830 (Foundations of Serious Games) twice so far, with 10 to 12 students. The class size is small and the diversity is huge. My students have been game industry professionals, corporate trainers, online learning professionals, HCI professionals, health care media professionals, Fortune 500 IT workers, university professors, doctoral students, and MA students.

I love teaching classes across at least 4 time zones, and preferably, multiple countries. This spring we had people in Pennsylvania, New York, California, Michigan, Colorado, and Illinois. The classes are asynchronous (we don’t have scheduled meeting times), but to celebrate the end of the semester and graduation of four students, we arranged an optional live session (pictured above). One student happened to be on vacation in Washington DC, so he logged in on his laptop while walking and standing just outside the White House.

What serious game graduate certificate students do have in common is that they are smart, busy, accomplished, and interested in serious games. They have a clear idea of their personal learning goals – why they are enrolling in the program. And that reason is different for each student. Game industry professionals benefit from the added background in theory and research. Many certificate students want to add serious games to their skill set, to use in their current job or to add to their resume in seeking a new job. Some are teachers wanting to understand more deeply how to bring games to the classroom. Some are doctoral students studying games for learning.

For some students, the program is their first exposure to games. Others have been creating games as a career for many years. This wide range of prior knowledge makes teaching challenging and exciting. How do we design a course that benefits everyone? One answer is that we accommodate and celebrate this diversity by encouraging personalization of assignments. Students are encouraged to play an active role in adapting class assignments to support their learning goals. We encourage you to propose and discuss modifications of class assignments that might make the assignment more meaningful for you.

The graduate certificate program teaches about Theory (TC831: why and how games change players), Design Research (TC841: methods to enhance the game design process), and Serious Game Design (TC830: Foundations of Serious Games). TC831 and TC841 are offered in fall, TC830 is offered in spring. Busy professionals often choose to take on course per semester.

June 1 is the deadline for applying to MSU’s online graduate certificate in serious games if you want to start in fall. Visit for more information. Contact me (Carrie Heeter, if you have questions.

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