Status Quo or Subversion: the critical choice for games and learning
Education and Social Research Institute
Manchester Metropolitan University
This talk will provide a rapid run-through of the history and critical debates in the field of computer games and learning and will argue that those entering the field today are faced with an important choice – whether to design for schools and universities as they are today, or to find common ground with more subversive critics of educational institutions and engage in a radical reimagining of educational practice.
The 70s, 80s, and 90s saw a flourishing of interest in the potential of games for learning. Computer Scientists, Professors of Education and Radical pedagogues all looked to computer games as harbingers of a new learning paradigm. If only the techniques of computer games could be harnessed for education, the common argument went, we might be able to usher in a new era of exciting and engaging learning experiences. The parallels between the design of powerful constructivist learning environments and the design of good games didn’t go unnoticed; the fact that a new generation of young people had grown up playing computer games did not go unobserved, and before long there were calls for games to be introduced into schools and colleges.
By the 90s and 2000s, however, some doubt was creeping into this argument. There was a difference between the informal learning environments in which games were usually played and educational settings that required the development of understanding of a core curriculum. There were signs that not all young people enjoyed games, or thought they should be introduced into schools. It was observed that many of the major games and learning research landmarks were based on anecdotal observation outside formal education or on studies where the researcher invested significant time, effort and support in enabling the games to be used in the educational setting. From these accounts, the games and learning field looked like a wrong turn, an experiment that could neither be validated nor scaled up to become embedded, a sidetrack in the trajectory towards the design of powerful learning environments.
Today, the games and learning field is at a crossroads. Will it become an integral part of the learning experiences of the 21st century or will games be relegated to the world beyond school. Will we witness the flourishing of a multi-million dollar ‘Serious Games’ industry or will we see games-lite harnessed into familiar settings? This talk will argue that a critical choice for researchers and developers and educators in this field today is about the model of education that they want to support. Should gaming ideas and practices be used to sustain the current status quo of educational practice, or might they converge with new currents of radical educational thinking that locate education in communities, in democratic practice, in subversion of the status quo. The talk will map out the different issues that researchers will need to consider whichever of these roads they decide to follow.
This first teaching topic will deal with general learning games questioning. It will be organised with three classes and two workshops. We will first present working statuses on the use of games in education and the contribution of research in this domain. Then we will have a look at collaborative aspects and ways to improve collaboration for learners groups by using massively multiplayer games. Finally we will explain why the use of « Learning Games » approaches allows to take into account (during learning activity) the necessary adaptation and personalization in such environments.
An overview of game-based learning: theory, practice and technology
Education & Social Research Institute
Manchester Metropolitan University
Digital games offer the potential of creating active and engaging learning environments, but their use in not unproblematic. This presentation aims to provide a broad introduction to the field, considering the benefits of using games in learning and teaching, but also the drawbacks and practical issues. It will start by considering some of the claims made by advocates of game-based learning and considering their basis in reality, before moving on to provide an overview of the theory, practice and technology of game-based learning.
First, the presentation will provide a summary of some of the key theoretical and pedagogic issues associated with the use of games for learning. It will look at definitions of games and genre, discuss the pedagogic rationales for using games to teach and link to learning theories, learner motivation and theories of engagement.
Second, a range of practical issues associated with obtaining, designing, implementing and evaluating games in education will be presented and discussed. Issues of integrating game-based learning into a formal curriculum and assessment will be highlighted, and an overview of a pedagogically-led process for game design presented.
Third, the presentation will focus on the different technologies that are available to support the use or development of digital games for learning. Different options for obtaining games will be discussed and a number of accessible solutions for non-technical game design will be presented.
A series of case studies, showing different ways in which games can be used to support learning and teaching will be discussed, and the presentation will finish by highlighting some of the key debates and challenges in the field and considering the future of game-based learning.
Dynamic and Adaptive Game Technology
Dr Darryl Charles
Faculty of Computing and Engineering
University of Ulster
In recent times, the use of games and virtual worlds to enhance the learning experience has become increasingly popular. Commercial computer and console games have provided inspiration on how to design engaging learning experiences built on a foundation of finely tuned challenges and a just-in-time feedback system. Similarly, we can also learn from commercial virtual worlds on how best to construct socially-oriented environments, where virtual situated learning is possible because of a user’s embodiment within an avatar. This lecture begins by discussing the relevance of games and virtual worlds for the effective design of learning technology, and moves on to illustrate how more personalised learning experiences may be created by using adaptive game technologies. Particular attention will be placed on user modelling/profiling, user tracking, and adaptive technologies. State-of-art research related to this context is presented, before an adaptive game developed at the University of Ulster is discussed in detail to illustrate the potential of such technology.
Workshop: Learning Session in the ‟Learning Adventure” Environment
Jean-Charles Marty and Thibault Carron
University of Savoie
Learning Adventure (LA) is a 3D environment where the learning session takes place. A particular map (environment with lakes, mountains and hills) is dedicated to a particular learning activity, for a particular subject. Each part of the map represents the place where a given (sub) activity can be performed. The map topology represents the overall scenario of the learning session, i.e. the sequencing between activities. There are as many regions as actual activities, and the regions are linked together through paths and NPC guards, showing the attainability of an activity from other ones. Players (students or teachers) can move through the environment, performing a sequence of sub activities in order to acquire knowledge. Activities can be carried out in a personal or collaborative way: you can access knowledge through objects available in the world of documents, via help from teachers, or from work with other students.
1. You will first discover the environment (basic principles of the game).
2. You will work by teams in the game and use a collaborative tool: the collaborative feather. The aim of this small activity is to organize group ideas about the construction of a game (constraints will be provided during the session)
3. You will discover what the system can deduce from your cooperation in the previous activity (widgets)
4. We will speak briefly about (and experiment) the need for user modeling, with an example exploiting adaptation of the activities in the game according to your skills.
This second day will aim at gathering some purchasing advisors and some companies, essentially from CAP-Digital and IMAGINOVE that have business in serious games in order to talk over the expectations of ones and the answers of the others.
An introduction and presentation of clusters will take place on monday evening after dinner.
Tuesday morning will start with a presentation of goals and expectations of purchasing advisors towards serious games orders. Then domain companies will present their offers. Finally a time slot will be dedicated to the presentation of projects accepted during NKM call.
We offer a meeting time for PhD students (poster session) and industrialists. In order to bring right people together, each poster will be identified through three keywords. This session will be organized around a buffet lunch that will allow the discussions to go on. In-depth meetings on topics that may have emerged will be possible on the afternoon for participants who wishes.
This day will concern user linked aspects in Learning Games environment. We will tackle psychology, education sciences and learning evaluation. For example, the impact of design choices over the learners and the way it is evaluated ; the perception wich users have of the environment in terms of immersion or motivation ; the noticed learnings (skills and behaviours) ; the noticed behaviours (involvement, physical and emotional reactions) will be discussed on this day.
Development and Evaluation of a Game to Teach Requirements Collection and Analysis at Tertiary Education Level
School of computing
University of the West of Scotland
This lecture starts with a wider view of the evaluation of games-based learning applications and then present a particular study. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a particular application of games-based learning in software engineering education particularly from a pedagogical perspective. The study was conducted at both Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) to ascertain if a games-based learning alternative is more suitable than traditional approaches at these levels. The game was compared to paper-based and role-play approaches to assess whether a game could potentially improve on some of the shortcomings of traditional approaches.
Using serious gaming-simulation as a method for scientific and applied research
Dr. Igor Mayer
Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management
Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands
In my lecture, I will explain why and illustrate how simulation-gaming / serious gaming can be used for applied and scientific research, esp. in the field of social (policy and organizational) sciences. The application of serious gaming in a Real World (RW) problem context is based upon a three level learning process: 1. Learning by the player-participant-professionals; 2. Learning by the problem owner / client; 3. Learning by researchers. I will present a few frameworks for evaluation of serious gaming in a RW context, illustrate the techniques for data gathering and give as many examples of serious gaming and its results as participants request and time allows.
The use of mind games with primary school children: how to promote and assess reasoning abilities
R.M. Bottino – Michela Ott
Istituto Tecnologie Didattiche – Consiglio Nazionale Ricerche
This presentation will focus on the use of digital mind games to investigate and assess the students’ logical and reasoning abilities, which are actually “transversal” to the very majority of learning tasks and therefore highly influencing the students’ global achievement.
Many authors recognise that the educational use of digital games has a significant impact on the children’s cognitive skills, but mind games, which are also called puzzles or brainteasers (Mitchell and Savill Smith 2004, Prensky 2001; Schiffler 2006) are not frequently studied from the point of view of the learning outcomes (Facer et al. 2007) and few studies investigate the specific cognitive abilities they cover (Milovanovic et al. 2009, Shih & Su, 2008).
In the past years, ITD CNR (the Institute of Educational Technology of the Italian National Research Council) has carried out a number of in-field experiments in primary school classes (some of which in a long term basis) by focusing exactly on mind games and reasoning skills.
The very ultimate aim of such experiments was that of promoting the development of strategic and reasoning abilities in primary school students. To this purpose, the cognitive abilities involved in such games were investigated (Bottino & Ott 2006) and the main design and interface features that make digital mind games more or less suitable to the intended use were examined (Bottino et al. 2009).
Such experiences highlighted the pedagogical potential of mind games to support and foster reasoning skills and showed that their use under certain condition may also affect performance in curricular subjects such as mathematics (Bottino et al. 2007). Moreover, the observation of the pupils while playing suggested the idea that digital mind games could be used to investigate if and to what extent children possess the reasoning skills involved in the games solution. As a matter of fact, for instance, it was noted that very often the same child, while dealing with different mind games, seemed to be stuck in front of tasks of the same level and type of difficulty.
A new project called LOGIVALI was then started, which, by taking a “diagnostic”, perspective, was explicitly aimed at verifying the suitability of mind games to evaluate to what extent the children possessed those reasoning/ cognitive skills that previous experiences had pointed out as being crucial to reach the games solution.
In the presentation a brief overview of the LOGIVALI project is proposed by focusing on the games used and on the abilities taken into account because they had emerged as important/relevant during previous in-field experiments; the overall research methodology that led to the building up, validation and standardization of the LOGIVALI test (which is actually the main output of the project) is then illustrated and, in the end, the main research results are presented and discussed.
Activity analysis for instructional design and use of Serious Games
Raquel Becerril, Pierre-André Caron and Marie Charlotte Bailly,
Cirel Laboratory, Lille1 University
This workshop focuses on the methodological design of Serious Games. We propose a design activity. Theorical frame articulates didactical and informatics approaches.
First of all, two different teams will be composed. The first team occupies the pedagogical design position. The pedagogical team must design a didactical situation, according to knowledge and/or activity models (e.g. Brousseau 1997). The pedagogical design material is composed by the context, the student’s profile and the didactical goals. The second team is in charge of the technological issues, in the context of the game, and they have to develop a multi-agent system. They must take technical decisions, and design the behaviour of several agents.
In the second time, both teams will be discussing about one boundary objet (Star & Griesemer, 1989). Its definition concerns “objects which are both plastic enough to adapt to needs of several parties employing them”, like pedagogical and technological teams. We chose the script like a boundary objet “They have different meanings in different social worlds but their structure is common enough to more than one world”. The script presents two different parts. One part is the pedagogical script, the second part is the game story board. Pedagogical and technological teams take decisions around this boundary object that will transform the pedagogical script and the story board.
The goal of last time will be to propose one common project.
Analyzing the impact of Serious Games on knowledge and practices
Hélène Michel and Joseph Heili
Chambéry Business School
This workshop aims to analyze the potential of Serious Games for the purpose of professional and pedagogical learning. To do this, the lecturers will ask the question of the efficiency of these games in terms of the impact of the virtual experience of learning on assimilated theoretical knowledge and developed operational practices.
They will present an example of experimentation carried out with 66 students trained in sales, by comparing a group of players and a group of non-players. The impact of the game on the skills will be studied from two angles: firstly from a theoretical point of view (based on marks obtained at tests) and secondly from a practical point of view (based on professional situations).
The lecturers will present the results of this experimentation. They will then highlight potential side effects of these learning tools, such as formatting of the profiles or the disneylandization of business.
During the workshop, the students will:
- Practice one of the serious games used in the experimentation (in English)
- Work on the concept of the efficiency of the serious games from a users and organizational viewpoint
- Suggest experimentation design to analyze the efficiency
- Analyze and discuss the result of the experimentation presented by the lecturers
- Discuss their own proposition for experimentation design
The students will be given a theoretical and methodological paper which will summarize the different points discussed in the workshop.
This last day is devoted to new technologies in learning games. Beyond an increased learners motivation through the use of innovative interfaces, some kinds of learning can happen only with rich interactions (tangible interfaces, immersion, …). In particular, during the three morning classes, we will tackle the use of virtual reality in learning games, the establishment of interactions in augmented reality, and learning when mobile. The afternoon will be devoted to two workshops of practice of the concepts developed during day classes.
GBL Research: Literature review and best practice
Waterford Institute of Technology
In this presentation, the author will review recent publications in GBL and summarize how it can improve learning and motivation compared to traditional teaching. It will identify best practice for the deployment of GBL solutions, show how virtual reality can leverage the motivational and educational potential of video games, and describe new and relevant research paths for the GBL research community, including mechanisms and methodologies that contribute to a wider acceptance and use of GBL in educational settings.
Designing natural interfaces for having more fun in a learning environment
University of Applied Sciences
A range of emerging technologies and applications enables more natural and human centered interfaces so that interacting with computers and content becomes more intuitive. This will be important as computing moves from the desktop to being embedded in objects, devices and locations around us and as our “desktop” and data are no longer device-dependent but follow us across multiple platforms and locations. The impact of Apple’s iPhone and an increasing number of multi-touch surfaces show that users’ expectations about using these devices in their daily lives have increased. The reaction to these natural interface implementations has been very dramatic. With the increasing development of interactive walls, interactive tables, and multi-touch devices, both companies and academics are evaluating their potential for wider use. These newly emerging form factors require novel human–computer interaction techniques which will be discussed in this presentation. My research goal is to design, develop, and evaluate natural user interfaces that will enable everyone, not just experts, to use our interactive surfaces. In this presentation, we will describe particular challenges and solutions for the design of tabletop and interactive wall environments that can be used for teaching in a more exciting (enjoyable) way.
Designing Pervasive Games for Learning
University of Bari
Pervasive games are location based games, that use the positioning capabilities of the devices and other available locative media in the game. These new games expand in space and time and often involve large numbers of players, like in the case of location based role playing games, alternate reality games, treasure hunts, urban adventure games etc. So the social dimension of this kind of activities is particularly important. It is often that this kind of games are used for learning objectives, both in formal and informal settings. These activities may be proven important in life-long learning, as mobile devices are personal assistants and adults may be easily engaged in informal games of this nature with learning potential. Design of such applications is a complex task. In this talk I present an overview of the field and then a sketch of dimensions and design guidelines for mobile games for learning.
Workshop: The transformation of a game idea into a location-specific multi-player pervasive learning game
Carmelo Ardito, University of Bari – Italy
Christos Sintoris, University of Patras – Greece
The practical session has been designed in order to give participants the possibility of practicing with issues on designing location-specific mobile multi-player games. It aims at giving the participants an understanding of the game design process but also as a tool for actual game design.
The act of designing an actual game is different from the theoretical considerations on aspects of game design. Nevertheless, before the practical session the participants should be familiar with following theoretical concepts
- what are pervasive technology learning games (location-specific mobile multi-player games)
- the design process for such games
- guidelines for designing such games
- dimensions of design (design space)
The session gives a practical approach to game design, but not to how to generate a game idea. At the start of the session the participants will be given a ‘seed’ idea for a game. The game idea that is used in the following is that of a word game such as Scrabble. Other ideas can be used as well, but Scrabble is chosen as we find that it is well suited for learning games and also because we have actually used scrabble as a ‘seed’ idea for one of our games. The basic concept of Scrabble is to connect pieces (letters) in a way that is meaningful (words) and gain points from this. Starting from this concept the participants will be asked to develop the idea further.
The goal is to create a learning game that is to be played in a defined location for a limited time. Such a location could be a site of cultural interest, a museum, a city center, an archaeological site etc. The players are assumed to be a group of students who operate smartphones. The smartphones are used as means of interaction with the game and the real world. That is, the participants can assume that the devices can be connected (to the internet, to each other), or as phones (to call, to send sms), or used as GPS devices or maps, or as screens that display information about the world. They can use the devices to take pictures, to scan barcodes, to orient and to coordinate the game.
Part of the design process is to choose what information one will include in the game. The design depends heavily on the actual location. For this reason, the participants will be given descriptions of the location for which the game will be designed. The descriptions will contain information about the location but also details of objects that are located there. For example, if the location is the historical center of Rome, the participants will have access to descriptions of buildings, monuments, sites of interest etc.
Aside from the description of the location, the participants will be equipped with following material:
- A list of design guidelines for pervasive learning games
- A description of the design space (design dimensions)
This material will be given in the form of worksheets and can be used in order to orient the participants about the issues they could consider. It is not necessary to follow the contents of the worksheets.
Workshop: Design of Mixed Reality Learning Games
Sébastien George, Charlotte Courdavault, Florent Delomier
Laboratoire LIRIS – Lyon – France
Mixed Reality (MR) merges real world and virtual world, and includes Augmented Reality and Tangible Interface. Integrating MR in Learning Games influence the way mixed reality learning games (MRLG) are designed. The aim of the practical session is to experience the design (formalization) of a MRLG.
We will propose a formalism to design MRLG. This formalism includes three description levels. The highest level of description specifies pedagogical intentions and strategies as well as game elements and context. Then, the second level is the writing of the MRLG workflow. The lowest level is the description of devices and their use.
In this practical session, we will give you a study case. From the pedagogical objectives and context, you will have to design the game scenario using the formalism presented above. We will also introduce you the particular MR technology we want you to use.