Back to basics with Game Changers

Learning in the 21st century is definitely very hybrid. But there was a time when the interest was very much on the digital side of things, where learning innovation was very technology-driven (general assumptions i know but you get my drift). As mobile phones used to get smaller and smaller in size (until fat fingers like mine just couldn’t cope), learning contents, resources and practices were becoming more digitised and virtualised in line with the increase interest in digitally immersive technologies and the need for distance learning. But recently, mobile phones are getting bigger and bigger and more intuitive with touch screens, etc., learning trends are also getting more appreciative of the need to facilitate a more hybrid space and context.

Ok what am I getting at! We are moving away from a more technology driven focus to a highly empathetic and experience-centred approach. Not just user experience as in interface and interaction design but more of an ecosystem of experience design – connecting people, context and activities- digital and/or physical and the context of both as a collective. Meaning should come before the tools and the hows.

I will write (rabbit on?) more about this. But in the meantime, in line with these perspectives, I will showcase some of the work we are doing where we revisit and”up-cycle” “old” technologies to support a more contextually immersive learning experience. It is about tapping into our natural ability to conceptualise abstract concepts into meaning.

What is your story?  L Heywood & S Arnab  CC BY-NC 4.0

What is your story: I have blogged about Game Changers plenty a times. This programme has really helped us to experiment game thinking. Together with my partner in crime Lauren Heywood , we designed a card-based game on Experience Design for fostering a more creative and personalised approach to describing abstract concepts. Personal interpretation of a concept or a topic is key to our knowledge development. By looking at a topic in different perspectives, collectively we can build this knowledge base- a base of personalised context and understanding. Story-telling and narratives have been key in our history from the oral accounts of events, written scrolls to printed books to highly animated and interactive medias. Appreciating the power of creativity and personal experiences, we designed and developed a physical card-based game to facilitate this process. It is aptly named “What is your story?”. Pictures do paint a thousand or many thousand words, and this tool will help encourage the creativity and story-teller out of our learners. The (box) design prototype (CC By-NC 4.0) is as illustrated. We will share images of the cards soon. This will also be part of the tools to be used within the Flipped Learning initiative at the university. We will test-run this at the DMLL Expo in April 2016 and the Revolutionary Learning in NYC in August 2016.

Puzzle adventure: In line with “up-cycling” “old” technologies, we  (led by Kate Green and Lauren Heywood) are also designing a team puzzle-game for engaging participants at the DMLL expo. The mechanics will involve finding puzzle pieces at the different sessions and developing a picture of the different elements “who, what, where, when”. The team who manages to guess the pictures (via twitter) correctly during the day will be rewarded (all for good fun). The basic concept has been tested at the lab and the refined version will be revealed at the expo.

escaped-bannerescapED: Our obsession with an alternate approach to game-based learning extends to the design and development of escapED (led by Samantha Clarke, also CC by-NC 4.0) – an escape room adventure for flipping learning into problem solving quests with creative props and setups ( a true personification of ARTs in STEM – also known as STEAM). “escapED is a programme to primarily aid the design and development of interactive, live-action, game-based learning (GBL) experiences. escapED has been adapted from traditional Escape Rooms and Live-action gaming experiences (think Crystal Maze and Knightmare and you’ve got the general idea) and has been given an educational twist“.

We are very excited with how game thinking and gamification has really impacted the way we think of and look at learning and these initiatives will hopefully open up more doors for students and lecturers to create their own gamified approaches to support the hybrid learning process.

I will definitely write more about this in hope to inspire others to get back to basics and inject more fun in our teaching and learning and life in general. Our very own Hero’s Journey as Gamification is indeed a way of life!!


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