How The Oregon Trail shaped education and game-based learning

Back in the seventies, a little computer game called The Oregon Trail changed schools forever.

Don Rawitsch, the co-creator of the original The Oregon Trail, spoke at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2017 about how the classic game spread to K-12 schools everywhere and influenced future educational software.

The Oregon Trail is a simulation of the famous westward migration in the 1800s of U.S. history, when families traveled in a covered wagon for 2,000 miles, an arduous six-month trip. The computer game launched in 1971 and maintained high popularity from 1979 until 1995. It was one of the best-known school software of that era.

Interestingly, the way students learned in the game—by replaying and adjusting their strategy with each new experience—was also the way explorers benefitted historically, with survivors passing on valuable knowledge and insights to family members who had yet to make the trek.

Watch the whole talk with Rawitsch below.

Stephanie Carmichael Stephanie is the editor-in-chief of the Classcraft Blog and the Head of Content for Classcraft ( She's a proud advocate of games for social good and loves talking with teachers about their amazing experiences in the classroom. Email her at [email protected]
+ Leave a comment + 0 Reply

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.
Education, game-based learning, history, The Oregon Trail
Make Learning an Adventure, Gamify your classroom today! Start Now, It's Free!
Features 0
Features 0

5 coolest educational VR apps for Google Cardboard

By on
Virtual reality is an exciting new technology with huge potential for student education, but it’s not always clear how best to leverage VR in the classroom. One easy entry point is Google’s do-it-yourself virtual reality device, but which educational VR apps for Google Cardboard are worth your time and energy? How to use Google Cardboard in the classroom Using Google Cardboard is straightforward. All you need i
Features 1
Features 1

Quiet a noisy classroom with these 5 simple tricks

By on
Even experienced teachers can sometimes find it difficult to quiet a noisy classroom. But having a few tricks at the ready can help you take back control and achieve a silent classroom. 1) Stand near the noisy students This one’s a classic that most teachers learn early in their career. If the class is being too rowdy, standing near the loudest students can get them to settle down, especially if you stay silent while doing it. Keep in mind that how a tea
Features 0
Features 0

3 free classroom noise level monitors

By on
A room full of quiet students … now that’s the perfect classroom. While that might seem like more dream than reality, thankfully lots of classroom noise monitor apps are out there to help you manage. We’ve chosen three classroom noise monitor tools that teachers can use for free. Bouncy Balls How it works: The free browser app Bouncy Balls is a fun tool where students are challenged to balance a bun
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter
An error as occured, please try again later
Latest game review, teaching tips and more!