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Global competence is a 21st Century imperative, but students are largely disengaged when learning about the world. 86% of 18-24 year olds cannot identify Israel, Iraq, or Iran on a map. Both newspaper circulation and network newscast ratings have long been in decline, and the audience that remains grows ever older. Online news fares little better. turns students into fans and managers of learning about the world by “gamifying” the news and engaging them with global information sources.

Popularly referred to as "fantasy football for social studies and literacy standards," Fantasy Geopolitics is a social learning game that follows countries as they compete for news headlines and development goals. As one teacher said about the game, “Fantasy Geopolitics empowered me to assume my students actually knew what is happening in the world, so I could scaffold and build upon those realities more efficiently in class.”

Teachers (or Commissioners) sign up, invite Students (or Players), have a draft in class, and use the scores and resources to build global competence inside and outside the classroom.

Students draft teams of countries, follow those countries in the news, adjust their lineups by adding, dropping, or trading countries and become more aware, automatically scoring points every time their countries are mentioned in the New York Times or make moves on a global news conflict-cooperation tone scale.

In my classroom, Fantasy Geopolitics improved engagement, news interaction, and test scores. Throughout the 2014-15 school year, the game also worked for more than 1,000 teachers and schools. Students say they’re most engaged in class when playing Fantasy Geopolitics and that it raises their awareness about the broader world. Teachers say students love seeing the changes in news trends and scores and that students get into the competition so much that they’re actually wanting to read the news and dive into learning about it more.

Fantasy Geopolitics is not only a successful learning game, but also a much better way to the read the news. We turn students into FANS (and managers) of learning.

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Gamification Design

  • Goals: Participation-Engagement, Learning-Training, Empowerment-Good Governance
  • Platforms: Web Platform, Desktop Software
  • Components: Team, Social Network, Points, Leaderboards

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