Save the Date!

August 13-14, 2020

Union South, University of Wisconsin Madison

Registration Opening Soon!

The James Paul Gee Game Design Award!

Play Make Learn is excited to announce its first ever learning game competition! In the spirit of James Paul Gee, we’re looking for submissions that are fun, educational, and novel. We have two categories for awards: video games that can be played on a digital device; and analog games that involve game boards, cards, or role playing, etc.

If you have a game you’d like to submit, complete the online submission form here.

Call for Posters

Poster presentations provide the opportunity to present innovative classroom practices, ongoing research projects, or classroom projects in an informal setting. During the poster presentations, attendees will roam from poster to poster and be able to engage in one-on-one, informal conversations with presenters. Poster presentations will be displayed during a designated reception time.

If you would like to submit a poster, complete the online submission form here. Deadline: April 30, 2020

Conference Agenda Overview

2020 details coming soon!


2020 details coming soon!

Keynote Speakers

Erica Halverson

Dr. Erica Halverson is a Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at UW-Madison. Erica has been a field leader in the learning sciences, creating a sub-field that focuses on how people learn in and through the arts. She has published numerous academic articles and book chapters and she is currently co-Editing a special issue of the Journal of the Learning Sciences tackling these issues and questions. Her first book, “How the Arts Can Save Education: An Actor-Turned-Professor Sets the Next Stage for Schools” will be published by Teachers College Press in 2021.

At UW, she gets to teach a range of courses to undergraduates, graduate students, and teaching artists who want to improve their practice. She also works with students producing a range of art forms and reflecting on how those art forms are connected to big ideas in teaching and learning. In Spring 2020, Erica received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award for her contributions to teaching on and off campus.

Erica is a trained theater artist and co-founder of two theater organizations: Barrel of Monkeys (in Chicago) and Whoopensocker (in Madison). A seasoned singer, actor & dancer, Erica performs regularly, working with the Children’s Theater of Madison, Music Theatre of Madison, Four Seasons Theatre, and Are We Delicious? while continuing to lead Whoopensocker.

Erica is an expert in qualitative research methods and teaches a suite of courses including Introduction to Qualitative Methods, as well as field methods courses that focus on Qualitative Data Collection and Data Analysis. In 2017 and 2018 Erica created a podcast series interviewing experts in Qualitative Research Methods. Produced by Adam Wiesenfarth and co-hosted by professor Simone Schweber, Two Middle-Aged Ladies Talking About Methods spans the field from the role of theory in research to conversation analysis over 12 episodes.

Jodi Asbell-Clarke

Dr. Jodi Asbell-Clarke is the director of the Educational Gaming Environments Group (EdGE) at TERC. TERC is a non-profit research and development organization focusing on innovative, technology-based math and science education where Jodi leads EdGE at TERC, a team of game designers, educators, and researchers who are studying how STEM learning in digital games can embrace neurodiversity. EdGE at TERC develops innovative learning technologies and research methods to understand what learners know through what they can do, not just what they say. Jodi’s academic background includes a MA in Math, an MSc in Astrophysics and a PhD in Education. Early in her career, Jodi dreamed of being an astronaut and went to Houston where she was an onboard software verification analyst for IBM during the first 25 missions of the space shuttle. Later Jodi taught Physics and Astrophysics to some of the brightest students in the country at the laboratory school at University of Illinois. In 1993, she came to TERC and led several science education projects at TERC involving curriculum development, professional development of teachers, and educational research. In 2009, she co-founded EdGE with her colleagues to study how game-based learning can transform science education.

Our Story

The Play Make Learn Conference promotes high-quality learning opportunities for educators, researchers, developers, designers, foundation leaders, policy makers, museum and library professionals, and school leaders who are dedicated to promoting making, gaming, and playful learning. Play Make Learn provides hands-on workshops that engage the audience in cutting-edge learning science ideas and experience; keynote speakers who have expertise in communicating state-of-the-art design, education, and research; demonstrations of new and upcoming games and technology; and networking opportunities meant to spark new projects.


Play new games and consoles with your colleagues in the arcade


Tinker and mess around with making


Enjoy discussions and presentations about making, games, play, and innovative learning and teaching

Conference Focus


  • Game design
  • Learning Games
  • ARIS
  • Field Day
  • Gear Learning
  • Games industry
  • Games in K-12
  • Games in Higher Ed


  • Making in a school district
  • Making at a tech school
  • Making at a public library

Personalized Learning

  • Conferring in personalized learning settings
  • Current research on personalized learning practices
  • CESA 1 personalized learning model

How Play Make Learn came to be

This conference grew out of partnerships among Games + Learning + Society, Filament Games, the Learning Games Network, the Playful Learning Conference, the Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and others who see a need to collaborate around making, playing, and learning in research, industry, and practice. We are grateful for our collaborative team:

  • Filament Games
  • Field Day
  • Gear Learning
  • Learning in the Making
  • Personalization in Practice
  • Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

2019 Sponsors

Play Make Learn is proud of its many sponsors including the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Education Outreach and Partnerships, The Network, School Of Education, and Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

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