#TEDxCoventryUniversity- #Gamification and #ExperienceDesign

IMG_6325The first TEDx at Coventry went pretty well I must say. Topics covered include recruitment, sustainable building, cyber security, the future of cyborg technology, films and the power of serious games and gamification. It was great to be part of the event as a speaker and share my ideas, which I hope have inspired some on the day. My talk was very much about the potential of gamification in designing the experience of a super learner. See previous blog posts: Gamification and Experience Design and Super learner in a hybrid space.

Sustaining engagement with learning within a formal context is a great challenge and on top of this, learning within an informal context is highly disconnected from the formal narrative of education. It is essential to connect different types of learning in order to contextualise the process. The use of gameful design will allow fun to be injected into the learning process and experience, which can potentially sustain long term engagement and promote retention. IMG_6334

Education as a non-linear adventure “game”, a Hero’s Journey, will allow exploratory and experiential learning to be encouraged, which will allow learners to expand their learning experience above and beyond their formal and linear education. As a designer of our own experience, we will begin to understand the context of our education and the impact it will have in the real world. In order to play the game well, we need to know how it works.

A holistic approach to designing gamified and pervasive learning

I’m starting to think about the different projects that I’m going to be working on this year. My perspective on gamification and experience design has definitely set the tone for my research, development and practice in 2016. I will also be developing the holistic and modular approach in gameful learning design further, and adopt and adapt it in the various projects, programmes and initiatives.

For instance, the BEACONING project, which will be kicked off this month will adopt the modular approach to ensure that the expected ubiquitous and gameful solution is built on strong scientific, pedagogical and technological foundation towards ensuring feasibility, uptake and sustainability. Existing platforms, tools and technologies developed by the partners will be key building blocks for the integrated BEACONING platform. The key layers as illustrated below, which help structure the design and development considerations as well as the components of the BEACONING platform. This model has been adapted and modified slightly to include Experience Design (EX) and the key attributes to be considered under the learning context.

holistic model

S Arnab CC BY NC 4.0

Layer 1 Learning Context: The first layer is vital in ensuring the learning objectives and pedagogic perspectives inform the mechanics and dynamics of the intended learning process and activities that will be developed. The lesson plan, curriculum, co-curriculum, non- and in-formal learning, and learners’ needs (including accessibility) will help determine the anchor points, which are the important milestones set for the learning activities and the relevant assessment measures.

Layer 2 Learning Dynamics: Building on top of layer 1, this layer will help map out lesson plans with associated learning objectives/anchors (what skills to apply, what knowledge to assess), which will inform the content and the context of learning including associations of objectives and topics covered in the general education curriculum and structured around the identified anchor points. This layer will consider learners’ motivational model, learners-teachers-parents dynamics and pervasive contexts of play (e.g. digital and physical spaces, formal, non-formal and informal). The monitoring and validation dynamics (formal – informal) will be defined in this phase to ensure that learning and progress are continuously recorded and assessed. Learners need to be able to “identify, document, assess and certify/validate all forms of learning in order to use this learning for advancing their career and for further education and training”[1].

Layer 3 Gameful design: The gameful design layer aims to map the learning mechanics and dynamics with game mechanics and dynamics[2] to inform the design of intended experience (EX), user experience (UX) and pervasive engagement. Lesson plans will be gamified. The overarching ‘gamification’ will drive a lesson plan (linking formal, non and informal activities) represented by ‘missions’ and ‘quests’ associated to the discretised lesson plan.  Strong and engaging narratives wrapping around the lesson plan will be designed based on the motivational model, needs and local contexts of the beneficiaries, and the location of play. A variety of narratives, mechanics and aesthetics will be defined and act as the interface between the learning objects and the learners.

Layer 4 Enabling technologies: The gamified lesson plan in previous layers will inform the standard-driven specification, integration and implementation of enabling technologies for interfaces, media, analytics, communications and storage, including data security and access. Existing platforms, tools and applications will inform the building blocks of the BEACONING solution.

The project will also be informed by an existing work in trans-disciplinary game-based intervention approach, which will structure the production process.

[1] http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/events-and-projects/projects/validation-non-formal-and-informal-learning

[2] Arnab S., Lim T., Carvalho M. B., Bellotti F., de Freitas S., Louchart S., Suttie N., Berta R., De Gloria A. (2014) Mapping Learning and Game Mechanics for Serious Games Analysis, British Journal of Educational Technology.

Copyright S Arnab 2016

CC BY NC 4.0

#Gamification, #ExperienceDesign and #Disruptions

My first post in 2016! Developed further interest in the science of games and gameplay in 2015, which has also led to a deeper interest in Experience Design (XD). And being part of the Disruptive Media Learning Lab has also given me space to think about what do I think ‘disruptions’ are, when it comes to gamification and education.

“Disrupting the new norm – moving from random engagement with seemingly innovative practices and technologies to a more devised, designed and manipulated experience (designed and planned serendipity)” Sylvester Arnab 2016

New technologies and approaches are “disrupting” the status quo of teaching and learning practices. There is however a danger that learners’ focus is further fragmented in a world that is already saturated with information and myriads of technologies. How can we disrupt this new norm and allow a more contextualised, seamless and sustainable learning experience to be designed?

To me ‘disruptions’ should be a catalyst and tool to scaffold an upward journey towards mastery. In a gamified sense, ‘disruptions’ can foster a dynamic, ever-evolving and agile environment within which progressions can be encouraged from the on-boarding stage towards mastery. Progressions and mastery in this sense is evolving within a non-linear narrative, leading to the notion of personalised learning, mimicking Jon Cambell’s Hero’s Journey. Some sort of disruption (change and agility) is required at each stage to trigger certain actions and reactions and nurture desired attitudes and behaviours as a learner levels up in his/her learning journey. A non-linear progression approach will give learners choices in how they proceed through the learning process.

Therefore, we are moving from a focus that is purely on learning outcomes to emphasis on learning experience. Learning experience is what puts new innovations, disruptions and changes (technological and/or non) in context. They should not be random and disconnected as per learning outcome. There should be narratives, mechanics and dynamics that collectively make sense of engagement with a learning process and the associated learning objects. Pedagogically, we can be inspired by situated, experiential and contextualised learning. It’s about disrupting with context and not to be solely driven by technologies. Sustainable disruptions can be cross-context iterations and increments of existing tools and practices. For e.g. the practice of digital gaming has led to the science of gamification (motivation by design) in non-games contexts, the introduction of a social context to an otherwise isolated online experience, etc.

Hence, experience design is key to contextualising engagement and interactions with existing and future technologies and practices in a seamless and connected way. Disruption in this case is to challenge the new norm, where there is a growing obsession on digitisation and virtualisation of experience. Experience is turning more digital and virtual, which has seen disparities between virtual and real capabilities (Warburton 2009[1], Arnab et al. 2011[2]), confidence and self-awareness.

Therefore, there is a need to harness the potential of a hybrid space in teaching and learning. Digital and physical experiences are merging, and it is essential that the experience empowers minds and practices. Disruption in this case is applied and inspired innovation; meaning exploiting existing trends and integrating them towards a more optimised experience. Within this space, we are going to explore pervasive, context-aware and gamified techniques under the H2020 Beaconing project[3], and focus on experience design for learners towards a more cross-subjects approach. With the advancement of Internet of Things (IoT), wearable technologies, mobile and mixed reality, a more hybrid experience can be designed and developed. Designing experience should also include architecting learning “space”.

Experience, when designed should also include a sense of surprises; positive coincidences. ‘Designed experience’ and ‘serendipity’ might seem an oxymoron depending on what your role is in the learning ecosystem. As a designer, the ‘Easter eggs[4]’ of learning will allow serendipity to be embedded in the process. As a learner, he/she will discover additional knowledge, experience and insights as part of learning. What would also be empowering and disruptive is for learners to also be co-designers of their experience and the experience of others; referring back to the context of a non-linear ‘Hero’s journey’. We are beginning to explore this possibility with the Game Changers programme[5] [6], emphasising on game design thinking as key to creative problem solving opening up opportunities for learners to design their own learning experience. Design thinking has crossed over to learning, where it is a “way of finding human needs and creating new solutions using the tools and mindsets of design practitioners” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, pp. 24-25[7]). Experience design has also been key to the Playing 4 Real project.

There is a potential for gamified learning to be so pervasive that we will not even realise that we are already in the system (a designed experience); a system that connects mind space, digital presence and physical existence. Should we only be a player benefiting from the designed experience or also as the co-designer of the experience? It is time to exploit ‘Games Science’, turning learning into a game; a journey without borders – a journey where anything is “achievable”; a journey that is non-linear with various possible outcomes. Be a super learner without borders (digital, physical, mindset), a designer of our own learning experience, a journey towards mastery; mastery that evolves with personal needs and aspirations.

Experience design is a powerful disruptive tool – design an experience towards achieving the desired learning outcomes and nurturing attitudes and behaviours. Use it wisely will create a positive environment, a non-linear progression towards mastery. Falling into the wrong hands will lead to negative manipulation and gamified “dictatorship” (see Sesame Credit video[8]). Therefore, it is essential for such a tool to be used carefully and in the context of teaching and learning, learners should be included in the design of the intended experience.

Some of my thoughts will also be reflected in my 15-18 minute TEDx presentation on 23rd January in Coventry.

[1] Warburton, S.: Second life in higher education: Assessing the potential for and the barriers to deploying virtual words in learning and teaching. Br. J. Educ. Technol. 40(3), 414–426 (2009)

[2] Arnab,S., Petridis,P., Dunwell,I., de Freitas,S.: Enhancing learning in distributed virtual worlds through touch: a browser-based architecture for haptic interaction in Ma,M., Oikonomou,A., Jain,L.,C. (ed.) Serious Games and Edutainment Applications. Springer Verlag. (2011) ISBN: 978-1-4471-2160-2

[3] http://dmll.org.uk/projects/beaconing/

[4] Easter eggs in gaming is the inclusion of surprises, hidden messages or objects, not directly connected to the intended gameplay

[5] http://dmll.org.uk/projects/game-changers/

[6] https://sylvesterarnab.wordpress.com/2015/12/02/game-changers-game-design-thinking-for-creative-problem-solving/

[7] Tom Kelley and David Kelley, Creative Confidence (New York: Random House, 2013), pp. 21-25

[8] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHcTKWiZ8sI


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