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March 21, 2016

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Scott Nicholson wants to help students change the world through games.

A professor in Laurier’s Game Design and Development program, Nicholson encourages students to tackle real-world problems by using play as a key teaching and learning tool.

“What I love most about teaching is allowing students to find a seed, something that they’re passionate about, and making that seed grow over the four-year program,” says Nicholson. “One of my teaching theories is to use the concept of play, which means encouraging students to create their own worlds where they can try new things and fail, and try again.”

Nicholson joined Laurier in the fall of 2015 after 15 years at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool).

Nicholson credits Laurier’s engagement with the community and its focus on helping students find purpose in their life for attracting him to the university and for inspiring his teaching.

“Teaching at Laurier is important to me because I get to work with students who want to make a difference in the world,” he says. “Students are interested in the topic and they want to take the things that they’re passionate about and use that knowledge to make an impact.”

Nicholson has been recognized for innovative teaching throughout his career. He received the 2003 Professor of the Year Award from the Syracuse iSchool; the 2010 Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Best Conference Paper Award for his paper, “Inviting the World into the Online Classroom: Teaching a Gaming in Libraries Course via YouTube”; and the 2011 ALISE/Pratt-Severn Faculty Innovation Award. Nicholson's YouTube channel and series, Board Games with Scott, which is focused on teaching viewers how to play modern board games, boasts over 2.5 million views.

Nicholson values freedom in the classroom, especially when teaching game design. He has found that when students are able to create their own projects and spaces to explore their own interests and strengths, it encourages them to be more creative and more adaptable to their environment.

During the fourth-year of the Game Design and Development program, Nicholson gives his students an opportunity to see how their games can make a positive change in the world through a partnership with Laurier Launchpad, the university’s start-up incubator. Through Launchpad, students collaborate with local businesses and organizations to solve a problem by developing a game.

“What makes Laurier special is its engagement with the world,” says Nicholson. “There’s this overarching view that we’re here to make a difference, which makes for a great campus environment.”

Nicholson’s goal is to help students identify their own strengths and passions and combine them with the craft of game design. By harnessing students’ enthusiasm and giving them the freedom to explore their environments, he hopes to provide students with the tools they need to find their purpose in life and change the world.

Teaching Excellence at Laurier

Laurier prides itself on a culture that fosters, supports and celebrates teaching excellence. Learn about Laurier’s other award-winning teachers and how they engage students and inspire a love of learning.


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