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).
Reflecting 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).