Design and Development of Digital Games, MA | Teachers College Columbia University

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Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design

In the Department of Mathematics, Science & Technology

Design and Development of Digital Games, MA

Program Description

The M.A. program in Design and Development of Digital Games is a 32-33 point program that prepares students to design, develop, implement and evaluate digital games for learning and behavior in both formal and informal educational settings. This program is unique in that the curriculum is structured to examine game design from a combination of social, cultural, cognitive, and affective perspectives. Students who are studying the design and development of games for education as a concentration need the degree to reflect this area of study, which is not only optimal but necessary for their intended goals.

Digital games are fast becoming an integral part of professional education and training in education, medicine, business, and entertainment. A program on gaming with a focus specifically on learning meets the demands and interests of many students in the educational technology field. In the field of educational game design, the rapid changes in technologies are reshaping the ways we create, evaluate, reflect, reason, and learn, and the interdisciplinary nature of game design has led to greater creativity in teaching and learning, and opportunities to collaborate with industry.

Some of the required and suggested courses relate to the design of educational technology (of which games are a part), which are very relevant to design of games that target learning—what are often called educational games. Similarly, the development of educational (or other) games depends upon the ability to program such games, or, at very least, to have enough programming knowledge to be able to communicate appropriately with programmers who will develop games based on design specifications. Therefore, courses on game development, for example, complement the required programming course sequences that teach programming skills that can be applied to games.

Minimum Point Requirement

A minimum of 32 points of coursework is required for completion of the degree.  Course credits from previous, non-Teachers College work cannot be transferred in to count toward the 32 points required for the M.A. degree. 

Required Core Courses (10 points) 

  • MSTU 4000: Core Seminar (1 point)
  • MSTU 4020: Social and Communicative Aspects of ICTs (3 points)
    or
  • MSTU 4005: Equity, Ethics and Social Issues (3 points)
  • MSTU 4088: Introduction to Educational Technology & the Learning Sciences (3 points)* 
  • MSTU 4083: Instructional Design of Educational Technology (3 points)*

Requirements in the Major Area (15 points)

  • MSTU 4031: Object-Oriented Theory and Programming I (3 points)* and MSTU 5031: Object-Oriented Theory and Programming II (3 points)*
    or
  • MSTU 5003: Theory and Programming: Interactive Media I (3 points)* and MSTU 5013: Theory and Programming: Interactive Media II (3 points)* 
  • MSTU 4039: Video Games in Education (3 points)*
  • MSTU 5015: Research/Programming in Serious Games (3 points)*
  • MSTU 6000: Advanced Designing of Educational Games (3 points)*

Breadth Requirement (7 points)

All students at Teachers College, Columbia University, must complete a minimum of three courses, each for at least two credits, at Teachers College and outside the Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design Program (that is, courses with a prefix other than MSTU).

Statement about the Required, Integrative Project

The Integrative M.A. Project can be either an individual project or part of a larger project involving several students.  For students completing the M.A. degree, this project should be related to their career goals, and should provide tangible evidence of their skills and strengths.

Transfer Credit Evaluation

Course credits from previous, non-Teachers College work cannot be transferred in to count toward the 32 points required for the M.A. degree.

Statement about Satisfactory Progress

Students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of degree requirements. Where there are concerns about satisfactory progress, students will be informed by the program faculty and/or their respective M.A. adviser, and a suggested plan and timeline for remediation will be provided. If satisfactory progress is not maintained a student may be dismissed from the program.

Other Information

Check with the CMLTD Academic Secretary if you are unsure about the name of your specific advisor.  Students can also work with other faculty in the program in addition to their respective masters advisor as they move through completion of program requirements.

Standard Policies and Procedures

Services for Students with Disabilities: The College will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities for information about registration (166 Thorndike Hall). Services are available only to students who are registered and submit appropriate documentation.

Statement on Academic Conduct: A Teachers College student is expected to refrain from any conduct, including cheating, plagiarizing, or purchasing documents submitted for academic evaluation, that calls into question his/her academic and/or professional probity. Decisions regarding academic evaluation in all aspects of students’ work at the college, including course work, certification examinations, clinical or field experiences, and preparation of dissertations, are within the sole jurisdiction of the faculty concerned, including as appropriate, the department or program staff members. Disciplinary actions (e.g., reprimand, suspension, or dismissal) in cases of academic misconduct can be imposed by the Vice Provost or the Committee on Student Conduct.

Resolution of Student Academic Program Concerns: Any student who has a concern regarding an academic matter may seek assistance.  The procedure for resolving academic program concerns (see note of grade correction process below) begins with either the faculty member (if the concern is related to a course) or the student’s advisor. If the student is not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved at this first level, or if speaking with the faculty member presents a conflict of interest for the student, the student should proceed to speak with the Program Coordinator in the area in which the academic concern resides.  If the student is not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved through the Program Coordinator, the student should proceed to speak with the Chair of the academic department in which the academic concern resides.  If the student is still not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved through the Department Chair, or if speaking with the Department Chair presents a conflict of interest for the student, the next step is to contact the Office of the Vice Provost.  At any stage of the process, students are welcome to seek the advice and guidance of the Ombudsman, who is charged with attempting to informally resolve student dissatisfaction of an academic nature on a completely confidential basis. 

Grade Correction Procedure: The instructor for a course has the responsibility for setting the requirements for a course and making an evaluation of students’ work. Once a grade has been given, the instructor is not free to change the grade unless the instructor indicates to the Registrar that an error was made in the original grade transmitted. If a student believes that an error has been made, he/she must take the initiative in bringing about the necessary correction prior to the conclusion of the semester immediately following the semester in which the course was taken. The normal procedure for effecting a correction would be through direct discussion between the student and the instructor. If redress cannot be attained through such discussions, the student may next appeal to the department chairperson of the department offering the course. If resolution cannot be attained through appeal, the student may next appeal to the Dean. In situations where the student feels that such an appeal process might not be in the student’s interest, counsel and assistance can be sought from the Office of the College Ombudsman and the Office of the Vice Provost.

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