Exploring the Fundamentals of Educational Game Design

written by Georgia Schumacher 13 March 2014

Game Design ImageCreating a successful educational game or educational software requires technical skills, creativity, and the ability to effectively utilize the latest technology. Educational games must be both easy to use and engaging, while also providing a meaningful learning experience. Studies have shown that educational games can promote critical thinking and problem solving in players, and high-quality game design is the key to achieving those results.

Technology at Your Fingertips

Computer and mobile technology has advanced greatly in recent years, drawing more attention in game design schools and allowing for more options than ever in the world of game development. Most people are already immersed in the latest computer and mobile technology, using it for work or to connect with friends and family, and can easily adapt to using that same technology to gain knowledge and entertainment from educational games.

Keep these tips in mind to make technology work in your favor:

• Know your audience and which platforms/devices they are using.

• Take all possible technological devices into account when designing your educational game. If your game isn't available on an individual's device, you are missing a chance to make a positive impact.

• Utilize new advances, but avoid jumping on trends that have little or no effect on the overall user experience.

• Consider incorporating location-based technology to give the game ties to the user’s actual surroundings.

Combining Education and Entertainment

One of the biggest challenges in educational game development is creating a game that will keep users interested and motivated while still achieving the learning objectives. Although you can learn many more tactics at a game design school, here are a few ways to ensure your educational game is both fun and beneficial:

• Identify what situations and problems will challenge and engage users and keep that in the forefront of your game.

• Consider incorporating the ability to interact, collaborate, learn from or compete with other users, but make sure to provide a purpose—whether motivational, educational or something else—for that social interaction.

• Outline clear goals within the gameplay for users to keep them motivated to work toward that goal. Be sure to give them regular feedback as well as positive reinforcement when that goal is achieved.

Narrative Flow

Educational games are often open-ended and lack a strict linear narrative flow, encouraging exploration, problem-solving and critical thinking. Although there is no rigid path, effective educational game design still gives the user a narrative flow that will draw them in and follow the expected paths of conflict resolution that our brains are trained to recognize. Users will then be able to focus on the game and reap the full educational benefits.

Interested in game design and development? Consider attending a school for game design and see what degree programs are available.

Read More

How to Design an Educational Game
Game Design: The Key to Education
Feedback Loops in Games and Learning
Creating Flow, Motivation, & Fun in Learning Games

6 Reasons to RSVP for an Art Institute Portfolio Show

written by Georgia Schumacher 11 March 2014

Now, graduating students at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division can display art at any of our portfolio shows across the country! This is a great opportunity for all current and graduating students to meet employers, browse peer work, and much more. This year, we have over 40 locations for you to choose from, so find the location closest to you and RSVP today.

1. Get noticed by potential employers. Employers will be attending each portfolio show searching for up-and-coming individuals like you, and this could be the place where you truly kick off your creative career. Don’t miss this chance to highlight your work and everything you have to offer!

2. Share what you’re passionate about. Since you joined The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, you’ve done so much. You’ve put a lot of time, effort, and creative energy into your work. Why not show off what you’ve created as an art school student? You’ve got a lot to be proud of!

3. Celebrate your accomplishments with your family and friends. Are you displaying your portfolio? Invite your friends and family to your show to demonstrate how you’ve been putting your creative talents and skills to work. Show them what their constant support has helped you to create.

4. Discover how your art school peers have been spending their time. See work from across our design, media arts, fashion, and culinary arts programs. Some of your peers’ work may even be available for your touching, tasting, or listening pleasure. Be prepared to engage most—if not all—of your senses at our portfolio shows!

5. Inspire those who are considering attending an art school. By following your passion, you’re setting an example for those who will come after you. Sharing your artwork and your creativity could help to inspire the next generation of creative professionals.

6. Experience the future of creative arts. Even if you aren’t graduating yet, attending a portfolio show can not only inspire your creativity but can also give you a sense of the direction your industry is heading. Meet the future designers, artists and culinary experts who will make their mark in the years to come!

Want to attend? RSVP today at http://aiportfolioshow.com/.

Are you an upcoming or recent grad and would like to show your portfolio? Contact your Career Services Advisor for more information!

Your Feedback Matters: Take the Priorities Survey for Online Learners Today

written by Georgia Schumacher 7 March 2014

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh -- Online Division, our faculty and staff work every day to support our students’ academic success. As a vital part of our community, your opinions and feedback are critical for allowing us to continue improving our support and your experience as a student.

Watch the Video!

Watch the video to learn more!

To gather your opinions, we launched the annual Priorities Survey for Online Learners (PSOL) in the Campus Common on February 24, 2014. This survey will remain open until March 24, 2014, and is designed to measure your satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.

Your feedback will be used to better shape and enhance the online experience for our students. As an outcome of past surveys, we’ve implemented many changes, including the following:

• Increased clarity on assignment rubrics for classroom discussions
• Expanded the availability of tutoring and academic support
• Improved timeliness of faculty feedback and student interactions
• Launched a mobile website and app for easier on-the-go access

We appreciate your time in enabling us to improve the quality of your own educational experience as well as the experience of the many students who will come after you! To take your survey, access the Campus Common and click the yellow “Complete your survey today” button directly above the My Classes Dashboard. Your feedback will be completely anonymous.

Thank you again for helping us to serve you better!

21st Century Photography Classes: Blending History and Technology

written by Georgia Schumacher 26 February 2014

Photography is a tremendously exciting area of study. Almost everyone has experienced the thrill of taking a great photo and documenting an amazing moment or place. Part of what makes photography so exciting is that it blends art and science as well as creativity and analytics. It's also one of the fastest changing disciplines in the art world. Photography classes taught in art schools aren't just intended to make professional photographers out of creative individuals. They're designed to create students of history and technology.

The evolution of photography has changed the way classes are taught. Technology is a catalyst that has brought a new dimension and new possibilities to this unique art form. Today's photography classes have a wider focus, and today's students have a greater breadth of knowledge. Aspiring photographers still need to learn everything that was taught in the past, but they also need to master a wide range of new technologies and techniques.

In the digital age, photography doesn't stop when the picture is taken. There's an opportunity to edit creatively, perfect the image, and apply dazzling effects. Students also have the option to apply the principles of photography to videography and other disciplines.

Photo History


The lens makes photography possible. However, the person behind the camera and the subject in front of the lens are what make photography so magical. To harness the power of this lens-based medium, students must understand how photography became what it is.

This art form has evolved tremendously since the first successful photos were taken in the 19th century. First, there were medieval precursors and projectors like the camera obscura. Then, there was the famous daguerreotype developed by French scientist Louis Daguerre, which required a 10-minute exposure period. More recently, advances like Kodachrome took small steps toward achieving photography's full potential. Students of history can better appreciate photography and can better understand the expressive nature of the discipline.

Back to Basics

Modern students are usually comfortable behind digital point-and-shoot cameras, but teachers would be remiss if they didn't encourage students to take a step back to explore photography history. In the analog age, the darkroom was the photographer's office. Safelights, film winders, enlargers, and development chemicals were their tools. Photography classes must cover the basics before skipping ahead through decades of technology. That's why analog and digital facilities are available at every art school. Both technologies are valuable when students are leaning to master the medium. Contrast and composition are the essence of photography, and these skills are often learned by taking black-and-white photos. Once these skills are mastered in the real world, students can begin to work on lighting and various techniques in the studio.

Digital Technology

Digital cameras surpassed film in 2003. Many modern students are digital natives that consider film a foreign object. Teaching students the fundamentals of film, lenses, and analog equipment is essential. Then, they can learn how to apply traditional techniques to a digital medium. Whether students are using an old Miranda camera or a new Nikon, it's important to understand the fundamentals and know how aperture, shutter speed and lenses will affect the final shot. Mastering the basics is extremely important. It also gives aspiring photographers the freedom to apply traditional techniques to a digital medium, which can produce some very unique and original results.

Image Processing

Digital image processing, editing, and manipulation programs are advancing quickly. Today's students must be intimately familiar with photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop. In many cases, the fun begins after the photo is taken. To be successful, most students need to learn basic photo editing skills as well as some advanced ones. That's why image processing has become an increasingly important part of the art school curriculum. Commercial photographers will find that touchups, background removal, and other similar techniques are essential for their work. In other areas, students may find that creative styling, high dynamic resolution, and digital adjustment tools are useful for creating high-quality pictures in a unique style.


Photo EditingArt school studies are designed to prepare students for life after university. Comprehensive programs give students the skills to pursue photography as a hobby, as an art form, or as a way to make a living.

Photographers can find employment in many areas depending on their interests and training. Advertising, product photography, communications, and portraits are excellent commercial opportunities. Other students might be more inclined to use their skills in science, law, criminal justice, or photojournalism. On the creative side, there's fine art, nature, and street photography. Finally, interdisciplinary skills are a growing area. Photographers can use their talents as a printmaker, graphic designer, or videographer.

The Future

Photography's future is as interesting and exciting as its past. The field of photography is very different today than it was just a decade ago. Recent breakthroughs include 3D photography, image stabilization, superior noise reduction, and better electronics. New technologies and techniques emerging currently will further change how the subject is approached. Because the field is evolving so rapidly, now is a great time to enroll in photography classes.

You're Invited to Join Our Student Veterans Group!

written by Georgia Schumacher 25 February 2014

A Letter from the Newsletter Editor of Student Veterans of America

Military Boots

Greetings to my fellow veterans and students,

My name is Joel Wideman, and I am the Newsletter Editor of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) Chapter at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division. I'm writing to tell you about the importance of this club and why you should consider joining.

The SVA is designed to support active military personnel and veterans as well as their families and surrounding communities. We are a registered chapter of the national Student Veterans of America, and if you are interested in becoming a member, we would love to have you. Together, we strive to:

• Serve the community - especially active military personnel, veterans and their families - through volunteering and fundraising events.

• Advocate for and raise awareness to the general public about issues important to active military personnel, veterans and their families.

• Provide information to veterans about their benefits as well as related governmental policies and procedures.

• Help veterans find other support groups outside The Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division.

• Provide a place for active military, veterans, and military dependent students at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division to meet and support each other.

From 1992-1996, I was in the U.S. Navy as a Ship's Servicemen, serving most of the time onboard the USS John F. Kennedy. At different times, I worked in the ship's laundry, in the barbershop, and in the retail store. Since then, I've become an author, an artist, a designer, and a musician.

I am pursuing an Associate of Science degree in Web Design & Interactive Media, and I'd like to get know the rest of you at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division. This organization is our chance to support and help one another to achieve our goals in school. Check out the group in Connections and join us. I look forward to meeting each of you!


Student Joel Wideman
Associate of Science degree in Web Design & Interactive Media Student
Newsletter Editor of Student Veterans of America
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division