The Washington Examiner recently ran a story about a new video game that teaches the United States Constitution by casting the student players in the role of constitutional lawyers. The game is called “Do I Have a Right,” created by a company called iCivics. Playing the game is part of a three-week college-level course run by Georgetown University in Washington D.C. that teaches high school students subjects ranging from international relations to politics as part of a summer program run by the Junior State of America.
The way that the game works is that the student opens a law firm and starts hiring lawyers specializing in various aspects of constitutional law. Then they see clients who believe that their rights have been violated and ascertain whether they have a case or not. If so, the client is allocated to the appropriate law specialist.
The game teaches students every aspect of constitutional law where the bill of rights is concerned. Those who play the game can determine which rights are derived from which amendment to the Constitution. They are also taught how to apply the concept of constitutional rights to aspects of everyday rights.
The game works by offering the player a description of a legal dispute. Then the player has to determine whether a violation of a constitutional right has occurred and to match it to amendment that covers it. Then they submit the case in a simulated trial. The more cases that are successfully completed, the higher the score. While a student does not need to have a working knowledge of the Constitution to play the game, players with prior coursework will get more out of it.
Just as important, the students learn a lot about running a business. They have to allocate limited resources to hiring lawyers, placing ads to attract clients, and even upgrading their waiting room to keep clients from leaving while they’re waiting to be seen.
The Georgetown University gamification program inserted a spirit of competition into this example of gamification in education. The student with the highest score was awarded a personalized tour of the United States Supreme Court, a prize that is highly valued by students who are interested in learning how the American government works.
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