iCivics and Our Courts: Video Game Instructional Design
2008 to 2010

iCivics teaches students how government works by having them experience it directly through digital games that convey information while teaching skills for effective civic engagement. The vision of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, iCivics grew out of her concern that young people were not gaining the tools necessary to become knowledgeable and active participants in civic life. When Justice O'Connor recruited experts in education, law, history, and technology to craft immersive learning experiences that teach usable civics, CCT contributed its instructional design expertise to the project.


In the beginning, the project was known as Our Courts, and was an interactive, Web-based program designed to teach and engage middle-school students in civics. In Our Courts, students could participate in realistic simulations that enabled them to use real law to investigate and argue actual cases, as well as to view cases from multiple perspectives (a judge, a legislator, and an executive). The Arizona State University and Georgetown University law schools were leaders of the development effort.


Recognizing that young people spend roughly 40 hours per week using digital media on their own time, Our Courts was designed to support student learning in both in-school and out-of-school settings. Our Courts developed a series of problem-oriented, discovery-based curricula that addressed issues that affected the lives of young people. The program's activities were designed to be used either as a complete civics curriculum or as a supplement to an existing curriculum. Our Courts also worked on building an immersive simulation designed be embedded in a 3D virtual world based on core principles from the serious games and learning movement.


The Web-based iCivics games are available for free online to students and teachers for use in classes, enrichment programs, or extracurricular activities. To learn more about iCivics, visit the website:


Cornelia Brunner (PI)