How and why does situated, whole game learning help students develop a range of the MyWays competencies simultaneously?

Write down the most valuable and enduring learning experience from your high school years.

Was it engaging, experiential, multi-modal, authentic, filled with genuine responsibility? The MyWays success framework reflects what most everyone already knows from personal experience and what great educators have always sought to generate. But it’s not the kind of learning most schools prioritize or most students experience on a daily basis.


Situated Learning

The MyWays “field of learning” shows learning activities organized by the combination of the thinking skills and real-world abilities they require. The left-field line uses Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking skills. The right-field line represents the authenticity and complexity of the learning task.

To cultivate both capability and agency across Habits of Success, Creative Know How, Content Knowledge, and Wayfinding Abilities, you need a balanced learning field.

Project-based learning, advanced extracurriculars, community-based learning, and apprenticeships are the kinds of learning located in center-field, what we call situated learning.

  • It is embedded in activity, context, and culture.

  • It presents knowledge in situations that normally involve it.

  • It makes social interaction and collaboration essential, with novices learning from experts until they become expert themselves.

Whole Game Learning

Just like learning baseball, learning anything important requires being fully engaged in all of its elements and improving through doing. That’s whole game learning, a concept from David Perkins of Harvard’s Project Zero.

The richest, most enduring learning experiences encompass some or all of the seven principles of whole game learning.

Using these principles, educators can create learning designs that offer “junior versions” of the whole game. Junior versions keep learning authentic while supporting students as novices developing increasing expertise.

You already know what junior versions look like and how they catalyze powerful learning; they include sports teams, multi-disciplinary school projects, drama clubs, school newspapers, student council, school orchestras, various forms of lab research, Junior Achievement, and workplace internships. Most of these are extracurricular, and yet many of us will readily cite them as the source of the most powerful, enduring learning we did in our high school years. They and the forms of learning they represent comprise a significant resolution to  some of the major challenges in K–12 education.


Challenges and Principles of Whole Game Learning

  1. Challenge: Seeing the big picture
    Principle: Play the whole game
  2. Challenge: Engagement and motivation
    Principle: Make the game worth playing
  3. Challenge: Developing core skills
    Principle: Work on the hard parts
  4. Challenge: Applying skills and knowledge across domains
    Principle: Play out of town
  5. Challenge: Making sense of it all
    Principle: Uncover the hidden game
  6. Challenge: Learning and progressively collaborating
    Principle: Learn from the team...and other teams
  7. Challenge: Becoming a habitual learner
    Principle: Learn the game of learning

Explore the Report

Read an introduction to the forthcoming "Part C: Redesigning the Learning Experience for the MyWays Competencies" to take a deeper look at whole game learning.

See Examples

Check out how educators are designing learning to help their students develop the MyWays competencies.

Take the Next Step

Are you ready to do more with these ideas? Use the tools in "Exercise 2: Map Your Learning Design to Your Community’s Definition of Success."