InSync Training

Dr. Stephen Slota

Dr. Stephen Slota
Dr. Slota is an Instructional Design Specialist and Game Design Scientist at the University of Connecticut. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology: Cognition, Instruction, & Learning Technologies and has worked on a variety of game and instructional design projects with organizations including Arizona State University's Center for Games & Impact, UConn Health, Intel Corporation, Pfizer, and InSync Training, LLC. His most recent project, a co-edited volume discussing situated cognition, game design, and the future of games in education, will be released later this year. Look for Exploding the Castle: Rethinking How Video Games & Game Mechanics Can Shape the Future of Education (Information Age Publishing) in Summer 2017.
Find me on:

Recent Posts

What Does It Mean to 'Play Together?'

Posted by Dr. Stephen Slota on Jan 25, 2018 1:00:00 PM
Learners Playing Together During Training

Understanding Social Interaction and Instructional Game Design

Growing up in the Quiet Corner, much of my time was spent looking for ways to self-entertain. Technology access was fairly limited in the early-to-mid 1980s, but I did have two other valuable resources: people and the woods behind our house. I’d sometimes play outside with a neighbor or friend from school, but more often than not, I’d wander off to invent my own playful activities in the trees, snow, mud, or pond across the road. Once my younger sister was old enough to understand game mechanics and rules, I shifted from solo play (e.g., matching games, flashcards, Calvinball) to collaborative and competitive play (e.g., Candy Land, Operation, Mario Kart). My dad eventually taught us chess and soccer, and my mom, who wouldn’t think of herself as a “gamer,” encouraged us to play board and card games like Trouble and cribbage as part of our family time. We regularly visited the playground, and on special occasions we would visit playful venues like Discovery Zone. Every season and in any weather, we played everything from tag, house, and manhunt to Donkey Kong Country, Monopoly, and Dungeons & Dragons. More than a hobby, play was a mindset instilled in me by others and something I tried my best to spread.

Read More

Topics: Gamification & Game-Based Learning, Instructional Design

When You Wish Upon a Star (Wars): Transmedia Storytelling & Design

Posted by Dr. Stephen Slota on May 11, 2017 1:30:00 PM
Storytelling and Design

We're excited to announce that Dr. Stephen Slota will join us again as a guest BYTE speaker on May 23, 2017. This guest blog post helps you prepare for, and gives a preview of, his live learning session, Gamification: Strategies for Merging Learning Theory, Games, and Instructional Design

In my previous blog post, I provided an overview of gamification with two specific goals in mind:

  1. Challenging the design community to ground projects in contemporary learning science rather than (or at least in addition to) any given technology.
  2. Defining gamification in learning science terms, with behavioral gamification, gamification for memorization, and gamification in character corresponding to behaviorism, information processing, and situated cognition, respectively.
Read More

Topics: Virtually There, Gamification & Game-Based Learning, Storytelling & Storyboarding

Achievement Unlocked: A Powered-Up Understanding of Gamification

Posted by Dr. Stephen Slota on Feb 22, 2017 12:05:00 PM

Access InSync's complete 2017 “50  Modern Blended Learning Blogs" series here.  Subscribe for daily updates.

Gamification in modern blended learningBack in 2010—right as I was beginning my career transition into instructional design—games emerged as the educational topic du jour. They commanded the attention of millions by way of social media apps like FarmVille, and touch-screen tablets made it possible for designers to reach audiences ranging much younger and older than ever before.

James Paul Gee’s (2007), What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, had caught the eyes of experts in psychology, linguistics, communications, and digital media, and a new generation of games researchers began work to explain how and why games were so successful at capturing our attention (as well as the ways in which educators, business owners, medical professionals, politicians, and others could make use of said information).  

Read More

Topics: Gamification & Game-Based Learning, 50 Modern Blended Learning Blogs

It's All in the Game: Considerations for Designing Effective, Engaging Instructional Games

Posted by Dr. Stephen Slota on Jul 7, 2015 1:00:00 PM

Dr. Stephen SlotaGames have been a hot topic in education and industry since the early 2000s, with more organizations seeking to apply games as a way to motivate and engage clients, trainees, and professionals seeking new learning opportunities. But, even though the design process might seem all “fun and games” on the surface, it’s more nuanced than it looks.

When it comes to effective instructional game design, much relies on how we define games and instructional roles they can fill. It might help to think of gamification as applying particular game elements or mechanics (e.g., badges, points, leaderboards) to a learning environment as a form of behavioral reinforcement (something learning scientists call “operant conditioning”).

Read More

Topics: Design, Gamification & Game-Based Learning