Rabbi Gottlieb featured on WXXI’s Connections


Rabbi Gottlieb is featured on WXXI’s Connections with Evan Dawson.  Here, Gottlieb discusses ancient rabbinic playfulness, games, and new opportunities in religious and humanist education through games.

Connections: What Will 2015 Bring for Regional Innovation and Improvement?

Could 2015 bring innovation and improvement in the region?

We look at how 2015 could bring innovation and improvement in various parts of our community. Here are our three guests and what we’ll discuss:

  • Mike Linehan, Yates County Chamber of Commerce – talking about recovery following the May floods, impact of casino development, and more.
  • Amy Oliveri, co-organizer of the upcomingEdCamp Rochester – talking about new ways of approaching teaching.
  • Rabbi Owen Gottlieb, RIT professor – talking about new game developments, and how education (and religion) can be linked to gaming.

Gottlieb joins Faculty of RIT, School of Interactive Games and Media

B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences

Welcome to Professor Gottlieb

Professor Gottlieb joined IGM this fall.  We asked him a few questions as a way for him to introduce himself.

What are your current areas of research?

My research specializes in games, digital media, religion, culture, and learning.   In particular I am interested in social impact in fields such as in education, public policy, and politics. For a number of years I have been designing, developing, and researching learning through GPS based mobile gaming.  I have created and studied gaming for modern Jewish history, emphasizing civic and democratic education (www.converjent.org).

I have also conducted research in digital media and religious social protest as well as writing on Jewish sacred religious law, learning, and games.

My current research and design project uses ancient religious legal structures to develop game systems for intra-faith and inter-faith understanding.    I use mixed methods design-based research to develop the games and to study learning during and surrounding game play and design.

What parts of your job do you find most challenging?  What do find most enjoyable?

I find developing new game mechanics systems to be the most challenging and most enjoyable parts of my work.  I look to and learn from players as they play through prototypes, providing feedback and clues to ever-improved game mechanics for learning as well as more deeply understanding how people learn.  We learn as we play, and so figuring out how that happens is incredibly challenging and also fascinating and deeply rewarding.

What drew you to become a professor?

My own teachers have inspired and encouraged me to pursue curiosities and the excitement of learning.  I hope to do the same for my students.  The world around us is a fascinating place, and the inspiration to make great games can come from the unexpected:  a great work of architecture, a political debate, a visit to an interesting factory — any place we can learn new rule-based systems holds opportunities for the next great game.

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I love skiing and spending time in the woods, so Rochester is a great place to live.   I also have a passion for pinball.

What advice would you give students about IGM and RIT?

I encourage my students to think strategically about their portfolios – to consider each class project as an opportunity to both explore their passions in game design and to think ahead to how they will showcase their work to potential collaborators and employers – or even market and distribute a game themselves.  I ask my students to consider learning and game play, and I also suggest that my students draw from great game and play theorists – many of whom have thought through tough problems that designers often face.  And if ever a theorist argues that “it can’t be done” – to take that as a great design challenge and an opportunity to break new boundaries in game design and development.

Game. Play. Learn! Podcast features Jewish Time Jump

serious games, educational games, game-based learning, game play learn, games for change, learning games, podcast

Podcast: January/February 2014

This month we have many many stories: an expansion of iCivics; a new serious game to overcome cognitive bias; a game that teaches yoga to individuals with blindness; virtual reality hardware and software for education; an alternative reality history game that teaches Jewish life and New York City politics. We will also talk about educational games events that just past and the ones that are coming up, like the Games for Change Festival this April. Our game of the month is the literary marvelDevice 6. We end the podcast with the latest job postings in the field. Thanks for listening!


ConverJent awarded new Signature Covenant Grant


Rabbi Gottlieb’s ConverJent receives new grant for mobile game teacher-training and curriculum.


  • Signature Grant:
  • ConverJent, New York: $33,000 for one year to train educators to use Jewish Time Jump: New York, a geolocative interactive educational game, and to develop a curriculum that can be integrated into its play.
Jan 9, 2014 | Location: New York | Category: Our News

The Covenant Foundation Announces New Grants



Approximately $1.8 Million to Be Disbursed in 2014


New York, Jan 9, 2014New York – Jan. 9, 2014 – The Covenant Foundation announced $1.6 million in new grants today as part of its mission to support and advance excellence and impact in Jewish education.

From schools to synagogues and beyond, the new round of grants underscores a commitment to initiatives across the landscape of Jewish educational settings, experiences and audiences.

Innovative work in technology, new media, the arts, youth and family engagement, and community building are each part of a re-imagined toolkit propelling the field of Jewish education forward.

“We are going where risk and innovation intersect,” said Eli N. Evans, Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Covenant Foundation. “These new grantees have ideas and approaches of great promise for success, effect and adaptation elsewhere. They are change makers in Jewish education.”

Foundation grants are divided into two categories: Signature Grants, which provide funding for up to $250,000 for up to five years, and Ignition Grants, of up to $20,000 for one year to support new and untested approaches.

The grants announced today are part of approximately $1.8 million to be distributed this year.

“We welcome the opportunity to dream with the impressive practitioners in the field and help them turn their vision into reality,” said Harlene Winnick Appelman, Executive Director of The Covenant Foundation.

End Excerpt.  Full Release HERE