Work-Life-Play blend – visiting fellowship in America

I was awarded a Research Collaboration Fellowship that has allowed me to engage with researchers and practitioners within the area of games science. Games Science can be defined as a field under which, applied games approaches, such as game-based learning, serious games and gamification can be framed- techniques that are underpinned by pedagogical, motivational and psychological theories and practices.

11893746_10155948261885581_2507363162176057191_oThe visit was divided into two 3-week periods. The first three weeks in May were filled with great discussions, drafting of research ideas, article writing, book proposal outlining and bid writing. The visit has further strengthened the development of a key research focus related to pervasive gaming and learning, which has also seen pervasive games being developed and piloted at Coventry University (al11838613_10155948262205581_6484854061139757191_oso follow our intern/developer Tyrone’s weekly blogs on his experience building the prototypes), and a holistic model being established to help inform gamified learning design. This model is currently being refined to further address both technology and non-technology perspectives, which will also include views on both digital and analogue technologies.

The second three weeks started with exciting news about the recently submitted EU Horizon 2020 grant bids. Two bids are successful so far (bids submitted to the ICT-20-2015 and ICT-10-2015 calls). The success of these bids further substantiates the importance and relevance of my key research focus on pervasive games, gamification design and context-aware technologies, and their potential to impact learning, cross-subject teaching and community building. Furthermore, I will also chair a special track on Pervasive Gaming for Learning at the up and coming ECGBL 2015 conference in Norway.

boston 1
Casper, Sebastian and yours truly on a lunch discussion session

I had the opportunity to engage with peers at Northeastern University and the MIT Boston, such as Assoc. Prof. Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr, Dr. Seth CooperDr. Casper Harteveld and Dr. Sebastian Deterding of the Game Design group at Northeastern, and Scot Osterweil, Dr. Phillip Tan and Dr Judith Perry of the STEP/Education Arcade group at the MIT.

An article on ‘An Inquiry into Gamification Services: Practices, Experiences and Insights’ co-authored with Casper has recently been accepted for the IGBC 2015 conference and an article on a trans-disciplinary game design and development model is currently under peer-review (the British Journal of Educational Technology). I’m also working on a grant concept note with Magy on games and emotions, which will target the Leverhulme Trust. Seth gave an interesting talk on the use of games and gamification techniques in solving scientific problems at the DMLL’s #DisruptiveBytes afternoon session via Google Hangout.

Seth at his NE office ready to broadcast
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Live from DMLL

Engagement with the STEP group at the MIT has led to an authoring tool for pervasive games (TaleBlazer) being trialled at the DMLL for developing pervasive game prototypes for supporting language learning. These prototypes will be piloted at Coventry University to evaluate the potential and impact of pervasive games and gamification in higher education. I also gave a talk at the MIT’s GameLab/EducationArcade lunchtime seminar on the research and development work we are doing at the DMLL related to pervasive and gamified learning.

Ross and Ilena of IoP
Ross and Ilena of IoP

Took a scenic train route to New York from Boston and had the opportunity to visit the Institute of Play there. Ross Flatt and Ilena Parker (bios) kindly hosted me one morning, where we talked and discussed about our shared interest in the use of game design thinking in teaching and learning, especially within the context of co-designing and co-creation of lesson plans and contents. Future collaborations and partnerships will be further explored towards the end of the year and our immediate focus is to see if they can be included as associate partners in one of our grant bids.

fab 1The visit also coincided with the FabLab festival in Boston, which was very fortunate. Spent one afternoon being a “student” again- gamified approach to teaching and learning programming and electronics.

All in all, it has been a great experience, and the activities during the visit also align with Coventry University’s Applied Research and Internationalisation Strategy. I’m looking forward to further exploring partnership developments with colleagues and peers in the USA, aiming for excellence in research with impact. Thanks to Coventry University for the Research Collaboration Fellowship that has enabled me to explore opportunities across the pond and to focus on my personal research, publications and grant bids whilst abroad!


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