Think Hybrid


I have been talking about hybrid solutions powered by games and play as inspirations a lot this year. Our projects at the lab have been looking at game-based approaches in different domains, working with various stakeholders (from primary school children through to the unemployed groups in Europe). As the university is pushing its online agenda for expanding our reach, the lab has been very keen in contextualising and storyboarding learning to consider a more hybrid approach, beyond the blended learning approach. Learning in a hybrid sense goes beyond the use of digital resources to support physical teaching and learning. Learning experience needs to merge the formal, informal and social realms, enabled by various digital and/or non-digital instruments fused together as one contextualised learning process.  “Blended learning focuses on the combination between offline and online learning, whereas hybrid learning is about finding the right mix for you out of all the possibilities in learning, no matter if they are offline or online.” (de Prez, aNewSpring, 2016).

think hybridReflecting on what we have done and are currently exploring, hybrid experiences should consider five key elements in order to be more holistic in their design, development and implementation:

  • People – Individual needs are key to forming our understanding of how a learning experience should be inclusive and diverse. How can we get people from different backgrounds to work together and to learn and support one another. How do we fuse the differences and exploit the similarities to ensure that the experience is more “hybrid” in the sense that group creativity and intelligence can be nurtured.
  • Process – What is the thought process behind the design of the experience. I’m an advocate for a more holistic approach that focuses on the fusing of learning needs, with possible activities, gameful/playful design being an integral elements, which may be enabled by different types of technology (analogue and/or digital). We have also developed an experimental development framework looking at transdisciplinarity to ensure that any game-based interventions are designed with rigour. This also links to the People element, where it is key to understand the different perspectives of not just the stakeholders but also experts and practitioners.
  • Space – We need to be more creative with “space”, where there is a need to maximise the impact of space in a learning experience. Digital and/or physical, informal and/or informal, a fuse of all the different spatial contexts, etc. Gamification as an experience design tool, enables us to transform any spaces and a combination of into a “playground”. Programmes such as GameChangers and CreativeCulture are turning ordinary spaces into co-creative platforms inspired by play and games. The people element and the transdisciplinary process play a key role here in facilitating a space for knowledge and skills to be applied. Such a hybrid approach allows learners not to be restricted by technology but to look at technology as enablers and perhaps inspirations. Creativity is key to learning.
  • Technology – We also need to be aware of how different technologies are advancing and what opportunities they provide. As inspirations for a hybrid ecosystem, technologies can be seen as contextualised enablers and enhancers. The world is getting more connected and pervasive, opening up opportunities for hybridity to be supersized locally and remotely. Beaconing for instance is exploring the use of context-aware, pervasive and gamified technologies for scaffolding/facilitating a learning path.
  • Content – Hybrid contents and resources should be more dynamic and not fixed, to enable them to be reused, repurposed and remixed to meet the needs of different learning objectives. Reusability and the ability to create and co-create new resources can be empowering. The entry barrier should be reduced and or removed to enable anyone to engage in content as a co-curator, co-creator, etc. A community of educators and learners curating contents and sharing them.

I will touch on these in my talk at the upcoming Gamification Europe 2017, where I will summarise the BE-attitudes of lessons learnt inspired by these elements. I will also share (during my slot as well as on twitter) a link to a simple Geo-location game powered by Beaconing (one of the authoring tools).

Experimenting #Gamification in the #Farming Sector CSA


I have been very fortunate when it comes to engaging with the various sectors beyond my immediate research and development domain. Interdisciplinary collaboration really is the way forward towards impacting various societal needs. By collaborating with individuals from the different sectors, it is life-enriching as we are not experts of everything. Individual expertise coming together leads to collective creativity, intelligence, intervention and innovation.

Screenshot 2017-11-17 13.46.30Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) has recently been awarded the EU Horizon 2020 funding for a 3-year Coordination and Support Action project, called Bond. Bond stands for Bringing Organisations and Network Development to Higher Levels in the Farming Sector in Europe.

…BOND’s general objective is to directly contribute to unleash, strengthen, and organise, the great potential for collective action and networking of individuals, groups and entities of farmers and land managers in selected countries across Europe, with a view to creating strong, dynamic and effective organizations that have a voice and a place in policy design. Through the benefits of working with others, extending interactions with multiple actors, the project will help foster human well-being, the management of landscapes, agricultural growth and a vigorous social capital throughout Europe.

Bond DoA 2017

When the proposal was still under development, I had many conversations with the coordinator Dr. Angela Hilmi on how playful and gameful approaches can be repurposed for developing participatory programmes that will facilitate the ‘bonding, bridging and linking’  of the relevant stakeholders in the farming sector. Being an advocate of a more holistic approach for implementing gamification, the role of gamification in the project is very much driven by the needs. Our main aim is to exploit our expertise in designing and implementing solutions that are inspired by games and play. Such solutions can be applied to different domains and in this case, they will be implemented and tested with the aim for facilitating community building, conversations and identification of challenges associated to the farming industry; specifically concerning the relevant stakeholders and the specific needs to be identified by the other tasks in the project. This work will link to one of the main objectives where non-digital gaming interface will be explored towards overcoming barriers between farmers and other actors, such as decision makers. In this task, we aim to design different playful and participatory programme/activities that will facilitate common understanding and to build constructive alliances. We will very much remix and repurpose activities designed and developed within the Disruptive Media Learning Lab’s GameChangers programme.

The kick-off meeting in Brussels (7-8 Nov) was pretty intense but exciting. We facilitated two playful sessions (designed in a couple of hours!) at the kick-off as part of the team building and the data collection activities. The sessions were well received as an introduction to how we could be inspired by play and games for designing participatory programmes.

I am looking forward to working with the consortium. Samantha Clarke will be joining me as the “creative producer and researcher” 🙂

Slides used at the kick-off:

#BeaconingEU and #C4Rs at #ECGBL17


ECGBL is a mecca for game-based learning researchers, developers and practitioners. It is great to be here again and this time around with two papers based on work carried out in the H2020 Beaconing and Crowd4Roads projects.

Taxonomy of a gamified lesson path for STEM education: The Beaconing approach

 Aikaterini Bourazeri, Sylvester Arnab, Olivier Heidmann, Antonio Coelho and Luca Morini

 Abstract

21st Century learning focuses on different skills and expertise that learners should develop for a successful life and career, and these are usually organised into four main categories: ways of thinking (e.g. creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving); ways of working (e.g. communication and collaboration); tools for working (e.g. digital literacy) and living in the world (e.g. citizenship, social responsibility, awareness). Learning should be reshaped to better match these requirements and prepare learners for open societies where learning will be lifelong and based on critical-thinking, cultural awareness, flexibility and adaption to changes. This paper introduces a new approach developed under the scope of the Beaconing project, which aims to contextualise the teaching and learning process, connecting it with problem-based mechanics within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The aim is to provide the missing connection between STEM subjects and real-world interactions and applications, and it is developed with inputs from teachers, researchers, educational experts and industry leaders. The pedagogical foundation is based on problem-based learning, in which active learning is in the centre and learners have to work with different tools and resources in order to solve problems (quests). Teachers facilitate, assess and author pervasive and gamified learning activities (missions). And these quests are gamified in order to provide non-linear game plots. This paper discusses the taxonomy for the Beaconing lesson path, which includes specific categories such as STEM competencies, learning objectives, pedagogical resources, rewards, narratives, game plots, location-based activities and game parameters. The lesson paths developed with the stakeholders will be populated with gamified learning activities such as mini-games, location-based mini-games, location-based activities and physical activities. The lesson paths will scaffold learners through self-directed and independent study, extending the learning experience beyond the classroom settings and complementing existing methods of teaching. The gamified lesson path taxonomy provides the backbone to the Beaconing platform and the associated components. This approach is adoptable and adaptable to various learning objectives.

 

A Gamified Approach for Facilitating a User-engagement Strategy for Public-Led Collective Awareness Platform for Road Sensing

Samantha Clarke, Sylvester Arnab, Mark Lewis, Luca Morini, Saverio Depriori, Alessandro Bogliolo and Lorenz Klopfenstein

Abstract

Collective awareness is a means by which communities can engage in collective action and crowdsourcing through citizen participation, leading to the accumulation of big data essential for informing decision making and for solving difficult problems.  However, engaging a huge number of the general public in a crowdsourcing initiative is a mammoth task. This paper explores the approach implemented by the Crowd4Roads (C4Rs) project, which aims at combining smart sensing, ride sharing and gamification applications to harness collective intelligence for providing open data towards boosting traffic conditions in Europe. Drawing on the theory of gameful/playful successes of using gamification as a motivating and behavioural change tool, Crowd4Roads adopts gamification as an innovative strategy for fostering user-engagement and promoting growth within the projects user acquisition and retention metrics. This paper presents the development approach of the C4Rs’ SmartRoadSense system and the design of the gamified layer that is employed to actively engage a large number of users for the pilot trials of the system. The paper provides a discussion and reflection on the development approach.

 

Midway through Beaconing


1.1The Beaconing project has just completed its first review (the first 18-month Reporting period) with success. Thanks to the reviewers and the EU Project Officer, we passed with no corrections; all deliverables excepted. We are highly inspired by the feedback from the reviewers with regards to the value of work we have completed so far, specifically the development and integration outcomes.

Beaconing aims to support anytime anywhere learning by exploiting gameful and location-based techniques and technologies. We believe that a strong narrative that encapsulates a learning journey and the flexibility to contextualise learning in real geo-locations are key elements to engaging learners with various educational activities and challenges. And most importantly, we would like to support the teaching and learning community in discovering new ways for creating a more playful lesson plan populated with gameful resources without the need to code or script.

The project has produced individual components, which are deemed to be exploitable, such as the gamified lesson path (GLP) taxonomy, context-aware activity authoring tool, the GLP authoring tool and the gameplot editor. As a platform, Beaconing will allow you to reuse and modify existing lesson paths (shared by the community of teachers) and also create new ones. Please see a brief overview of the project and achievements so far:

 

Coordinating a project as large as Beaconing is indeed a mammoth task. The commitment from the work package leaders and the whole consortium is key to our success so far. It is by no means perfect but we have come so far as a consortium since the kick off in January 2016 (read year 1 reflections). Personality, professionalism and relationships are three key elements which I found essential on top of the relevant expertise. And a huge shout out to my coordinating team at Coventry University!

What I also learnt as the coordinator of the project is that individuality is key to collective creativity. In our case, components which are created based on the individual expertise of the different partners are now being integrated into the Beaconing ecosystem with functionalities that can be exploited individually or collectively. It is time to work closely with the user segments in the different pilot sites to identify sustainability and exploitation.

As part of our activities in the second half of the project, we aim to widen our reach to the different market segments. The pilot is currently ongoing and we are excited with the prospect of testing out our solutions with the stakeholders.

We will also soon announce an EU-Wide Location-Based event. Watch this space!!! We are coming to you!

Follow us on twitter – @BeaconingEU

Check out our publications so far

CreativeCulture in Borneo


FullSizeRenderSince the launch of GameChangers in 2015, the initiative has produced two spin-out projects- Mobile GameChangers and CreativeCulture funded by HEFCE and Newton respectively.

CreativeCulture was kicked off in February 2017, where the Malaysian team was involved in the Remix Play Summit. As part of the programme, the UK team recently visited the Malaysian site (7th – 18th August 2017) and spent 2 weeks with the local team developing the localised game design thinking programme for STEM education, carrying out workshop for educators in Kuching and visiting one of the project’s sites.

The UK team ran the Remixing Play into a GamePlan workshop with the local team prior to the site visit and the workshop with the stakeholders.

The workshop has led to a simple play-learn programme developed for the site visit, where we introduced a game-based learning activity to the teachers and students at Telok Melano (a remote/rural Malay fishing village). It was a great experience and a satisfying one, especially seeing the pupils enjoying the play-learn process. The teachers were also inspired and the school will now be one of the main sites for the CreativeCulture programme.

The site visit was followed by a workshop with the local stakeholders in Kuching. A call out for participation was published in the local news.

The workshop attracted just over 40 participants from various teaching and learning background (HE, schools, state ministry of education, regional/district education office, etc.). The participants had a lot of fun experiencing the Remixing Play process, where in less than 1 1/2 hours, they managed to create playful solutions to real challenges and some of them addressed STEM topics.

Slides used on the day:

The collaboration was further covered by the local press.

The project is putting out a call for teachers/educators in the Kuching/Sarawak area to be involved in the project. You may either want to explore the power of play and games in education, the game design process for learning or if you are already using game and play-based learning in your teaching, we would like to showcase your work. The local lead is Dr. Jacey-Lynn Minoi. Please visit the project’s website – http://mycapsule.my and email us at gamemaster@mycapsule.my

C4Rs: Drive and sense smart


As part of the stakeholder engagement plan for the Crowd4Roads project (C4Rs – a project that is funded under the EU Commission Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action (CAPs)), we recently organised a 2-hour workshop on research and innovation in transport and mobility (Our city, our roads – Let’s make a difference) – 3rd July 2017 at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University. We are a partner of the project that is coordinated by University of Urbino in Italy.

The aim of the workshop was to engage others who are involved in innovation related to transport and mobility and specifically those from the local council in the UK. We also aimed to raise awareness of the smart sensing and collective awareness approach that the C4Rs project is developing and is key to informing future pilot testing of the prototype in the city. Twenty people attended the workshop and they were from Coventry City Council, the university’s Mobility and Transport research centre, the enterprise and the engineering faculty. It was also a great pleasure to have Sunil Budhdeo (Transport Innovation Manager , Coventry City Council), who talked about innovation in traffic management and Professor Andrew Parkes (Executive Director, Centre for Mobility and Transport), who discussed connected and driverless vehicle technology and the contribution to future mobility.

We showcased current outcomes from the C4Rs project (Smart sensing, gamification and our roads: The C4Rs journey – presented my myself, Saverio Delpriori from the University of Urbino and my colleague Mark Lewis. The talk demonstrated the Crowd Sensing approach and the gamification design so far.

GameChangers showcase


The GameChangers initiative has been a key staple at Coventry University, aiming to embed playful and gameful approaches in our teaching and learning. It has not been an easy ride as playfulness can sometimes be seen as a bit too “arty farty” and not “serious” enough for HE. However, we are blessed with champions of the approach in the different faculties, centres and campuses. And the programme is such a success with approaches being embedded in real courses and modules and new interesting tools created by staff and students as part of a pilot for their teaching and learning.

As part of the soft launch for GameChangers 2.0, we organised a showcase workshop for colleagues to demonstrate how they have embedded playfulness and gamefulness in their practices and how GameChangers have been sentimental to influencing these practices. It was great to see most of them there and to hear about their experiences. We are also in the process of collecting talking head videos so that we can showcase these champions on the GameChangers online hub. The website is being revamped as we speak and we hope to have a Beta version by end of July.

You can catch the session here: