New technology and game-based learning methods are always in development, just ask Suzi Wilczynski, CEO of Dig-It! Games, a mission-based company in Bethesda focused on helping kids learn through the latest in educational technologies.
A former archeologist, Wilczynski has degrees in classical and Mediterranean archaeology from Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania. She also previously taught social studies to middle school students in Philadelphia and Washington, DC. In search of discovering new innovative resources to help young minds learn and interact, Wilczynski left teaching and founded Dig-It! Games in 2005.
What are the responsibilities of your current role?
“My daily activities are dedicated to managing the team of developers and artists working on our latest educational games. I am the primary game designer on the team, although much of the fine detail of the design is done collaboratively with the developers and artists. I also work on marketing and strategic partnerships, and am constantly working to stay informed on all the latest trends and research on education and game-based learning. And when I’m not doing all of that, I do content creation for our social studies and cross-curricular math games and plan out future projects.”
What is your favorite part about your daily duties?
“The best part about what I do is knowing that I’m designing games that will make a difference in kids’ lives. Our games help kids think about learning in a different way, so it becomes a fun activity rather than a chore to be completed. The best days are the ones where we get to have kids come into the studio and play our games. On those days, when the learning is tangible and you can visibly see those kids exercising their critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills in new ways, it just confirms that all the hard work really is worth it.”
How has your education and training prepared you for your current role?
“Interestingly, building a game is really very similar to building a lesson because we start with learning goals and work backwards to create gameplay. So my time in the classroom has been invaluable when it comes to creating true game-based learning experiences. What’s been a little surprising, though, is how useful my archaeology background has been both for developing games and for building the company. Archaeology, and social studies in general, is about creative problem-solving, analyzing patterns and data, making connections and communicating clearly and concisely. I do use STEM skills as well, especially math and engineering thinking.”
Do you have any advice for others looking to enter this field?
“The edtech industry is constantly changing. So it’s important to accept that the learning is ongoing. Know the industry. Research and learn everything you can; even if it doesn’t seem significant now, what you’re learning will very likely be useful at some point.”
Laura Catherine Hermoza has a lifelong love for writing. In addition to serving as a contributor to various media publications, she is also a published novelist of several books and works as a proofreader/editor. LC resides in Baltimore County.