April 27, 2020

Institute of Play Brings Gaming Resources to the Connected Learning Alliance

Categories: Educational Practice, Featured, Research
Kid holding toy car - Institute of Play banner

The Institute of Play (IoP) as an organization may no longer exist but their research, tools, and resources are now available on the Connected Learning Alliance’s Institute of Play page. From teacher-tested, student-approved games designed collaboratively with educators to tools, videos showing a game-like learning model in action, and templates for designing your own learning game, the Institute of Play page offers the resources needed to keep the Institute’s vision of “transforming education through play” alive.

So whether you’re just looking for tips on how to integrate games into the classroom or looking for tools and resources for designing your own games for learning, the Institute of Play page includes over a dozen downloadable resources to help you bring the power of play and design into the classroom.

Quest to Learn

Quest to Learn, a New York City public middle and high school that opened in 2009, was the first project undertaken by the Institute. Designed from the ground up by a team of educators, researchers, and game designers, and firmly grounded in over 30 years of learning research, Quest to Learn re-imagined school as one node in an ecology of learning that extends beyond the four walls of an institution and engages kids in ways that are exciting, empowering and culturally relevant.

The Quest to Learn resource section features a research-and-development document outlining a learning framework for Quest to Learn as well as downloadable toolkits and methods to help educators remix the Quest to Learn model of game-like learning. Two studies focusing on the Quest to Learn model are also available in the Research resource section.

In addition to the resources found on the Institute of Play page, the Strong Museum of Play has acquired IoP’s collection of digital and physical artifacts, which they will make available to researchers soon.


The Institute’s work was guided by a set of seven game-like learning principles that bring together the principles of game design and learning design to make learning irresistible. The video section features a series of videos that bring the seven principles to life, offering a view into the way they are implemented at Quest to Learn. Each video shows how the core design principles of the model become classroom practice, highlighting just some of the ways game-like learning can be effectively used by students and teachers.

Learning Games

Since 2009, Institute of Play has developed over 70 original classroom games and supported dozens of projects. The Institute’s game designers and curriculum specialists partnered with teachers to design, produce, playtest and refine games and other learning materials that engage students in exciting new ways. You can explore some of the most popular resources, free for viewing and download in the Learning Games section.

About Institute of Play

Institute of Play was a non-profit design studio, founded in 2007 by a group of game designers in New York City. An interdisciplinary team of designers, strategists and learning practitioners, the Institute of Play created learning experiences rooted in the principles of game design.

After 11 years of transforming education through play the Institute of Play decided to wind down the organization in 2018 and the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine was given a non-exclusive license to IoP’s entire archive of materials.

Learn more about the Institute of Play and the available resources on the Institute of Play page.