The Be-attitudes of ‘Think Hybrid’

My previous post emphasises on the importance of a more hybrid approach when it comes to using gamification as an experience design tool. I talked about my views on this at the last Gamification Europe conference and summarised lessons learnt as the Be-Attitudes of Thinking Hybrid. Please check out my slides here:

You can catch up on the talk here (think i had tooo much coffee), and correction – my colleague Mike Duncan is a Prof in Exercise Science, and not Game Science – that’s me- DOH!:

Check out more keynotes from the conference here: Playlist

Well done to Pete Jenkins, Vasilis and team!!!

#BeaconingEU Meta-Game plot thickens

Had a productive Beaconing Virtual Workshop yesterday, where the partners demonstrated the current status of the various components that are also currently being integrated.

There are various components ranging from the game engine and authoring tool through to the analytics, PCG and context-aware components.

Slide1To break barriers of space and time in learning, there needs to be an overarching backbone that will bring these components together, and in our case it is the lesson paths that are being gamified and made more pervasive and context-aware. Each lesson path will be encapsulated by meta-game plots and narratives to provide a playful interface to the learning process, with key learning activities represented by a suite of mini-games and location-based activities. Please see the promo video in my previous post.

And the plot thickens with the need to support three different stakeholders i.e. learners, teachers and parents. The lesson path, analytics and dashboard teams are working hard to ensure that we take their needs and requirements into considerations.

Thanks to all the partners for the hard work to date and looking forward to the first integrated prototype by the end of the month.

Get your game on with @Disrupt_Learn and @BeaconingEU #gbl #gamification #pervasive

DMLL_logo_mainReferring back to my last post on the Beaconing project; we are in our second year with a critical milestone that concerns the development and integration of a demonstrator for showcasing the Beaconing ‘anytime anywhere’ gameful learning solution.

And we are looking for a new talent to join us at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL) and be part of the Beaconing’s coordinating and leadership team. DMLL is a cross-university experimental unit comprising of academics, learning technologists, educational developers and researchers. The Lab is based in the heart of the campus, uniquely designed to promote open dialogues, collaborative work and exploratory play for all interested in defining the 21st century University.

Extract from the advert we have just put out. The deadline for application is 3rd March 2017. So chop chop people.

The Research Associate will undertake and play a lead role in the research, development and evaluation of pervasive and gamified approaches for the Horizon 2020 BEACONING Project (, which will include designing and developing pervasive and gamified learning scenarios (gamified lesson path design) and applications that promote cross-subject teaching and learning, recruiting and engaging with stakeholders/users, evaluating the impact and effectiveness of new and innovative education interventions through the collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data, and disseminating the findings.

Currently in its second year, the project is now at the integration phase of the gamified play-lesson plans, which involves working with relevant technical partners across the consortium towards the development, testing and piloting of the Beaconing solution.

BEACONING stands for ‘Breaking Educational Barriers with Contextualised, Pervasive and Gameful Learning’. The project aims to exploit and integrate pervasive, context-aware and gamified techniques and technologies, framed within the Problem-Based Learning context towards facilitating ‘anytime anywhere’ learning.

The Research Associate will also participate in other research activities (with a particular focus on Games Science) within the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL).

To apply please visit:

#GWC16, #Play, Human-driven #Gamification and #BeaconingEU

I really enjoyed the recent Gamification World Congress in Madrid (GWC, 26-27 Oct 2016). It was great to see old friends and make new ones!

untitledIt was also great to hear about amazing gamification initiatives that are addressing challenges associated with engagement, education and health. And ‘play’ has been one of the themes throughout the two days. 

It is essential to get back to basic and be holistic about how we use gamification as a design tool, and most importantly gamification is NOT a technology, it is a human behaviour driven methodology. Please see some of my previous posts here, here and here.

Yu Kai’s workshop on the Octalysis Framework at GWC unpicked this view and elaborated on how important it is to be human-driven by looking at 8 core drives that influence the way desired actions are responded to.

The workshop and the main congress have really inspired me and there are so many different views that I can consider towards ensuring that the Beaconing project is developed based on a more evidence driven approache. The project is already based on a holistic approach and at the congress, I spoke about our concept and aspirations for a more hybrid and playful learning experience.

My slidedeck for the GWC :

Beaconing was shortlisted for the Best Education Project award at the congress. We didn’t win but it was an honour to be a finalist as the project is only 11 month old. Well done to Ball State University and well done to the other finalists and winners. 

Here’s to GWC 2017!

Anytime Anywhere learning with gameful Beaconing

Key to reducing the barriers of time and physical space in teaching and learning is to open up education in such a way that formal/informal learning contexts, and digital/physical experiences are blended. Exploiting current advances in digital technologies allow for learning processes to be better situated in a learner’s context, needs and surroundings, where many different forms of learning experience can be combined in working toward the desired learning outcomes.

To understand how digital and physical learning contexts could be exploited to enhance the learning experience of learners, there is a need to study students’ engagement with learning spaces, pedagogical (such as game-based learning, gamification for learning) techniques as well as technologies to understand learning dynamics in physical and digital environments, and the extension of learning beyond the limitation of a physical classroom by looking at relevant enabling technologies. It is thus important for educational institutions to evaluate and possibly re-design how formal spaces are used in teaching and learning and how digital platforms can help facilitate delivery, application and assessment of learning in informal context.

Advances in ubiquitous computing, mobile and location-based technologies open up opportunities for digitally-enabled learning to be facilitated in everyday spaces, increasing flexibility for learning experience to be made more engaging, contextualised and seamless. With game-based learning and gamification in mind, potentials include games or gamified activities taking place in the physical world, concurrently with the normal activities of learners’ everyday lives, where virtual actions may be the trigger for physical actions in the real world and vice versa. Example games with serious purposes that adopt such a pervasive approach include Zombies Run- an adventure location-based mobile game that advocates running, and Ingress- transforming local landmarks into game objects in a viral and global gaming, provides an avenue for teaching and learning to be made more playful and pervasive. 

Pervasive gaming is getting a lot of attention recently since PokemonGo marched on to the forefront of the mainstream. This opens up opportunities for technology-enabled pervasive play-learning to be embedded in education fostering an ecosystem where informal activities are recognised as an important extension to formal delivery and instructions. This will allow us to inject educational play in both formal/informal and digital/physical spaces and contexts.

1.1The Beaconing project is exploring this opportunity as a response to an increasing appetite for such an approach. In the process, we will investigate the crossings between pervasive gaming and gamification and how the digital connectedness will supersize the playful experience that may transform into the new “norm” in teaching and learning. We however need to be careful in terms of providing support to the teachers, who are at the forefront. The ability to reuse, adapt and/or create new pervasive play-lesson plan will hopefully expand and extend the impact of learning beyond the traditional classroom setup.

I will talk about the ideas that underpin the project and where we are so far at the coming Gamification World Congress. The project has also been nominated as a finalist for the GWC Best Education Project 2016 at the congress.

Playful and gameful learning in a hybrid space

Screenshot 2016-08-10 10.10.44Keynoted at the SGames conference in Porto in June and it was directly after the H2020 Beaconing project workshop. A full week exploring the impact and implication of gamification in pervasive learning and how we could break barriers between formal/informal contexts as well as digital/physical spaces.

The mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics of gameplay have the potential to enhance the way a learning process/programme to be designed. We understand that there is a progression from play into gameplay and gamification as discussed in my previous post.

As a reflection piece based on my keynote (to be published as a sole book chapter for the conference proceedings- Springer), a short extract below iterates the progression from playfulness to gamefulness.

Play is key to intrinsically expanding and broadening our embodied experience with our surroundings, fostering autonomy and freedom. It is an exploratory and experiential means for incrementally, iteratively and continuously updating our understanding and interpretation of the various concepts, objects, people, emotions and the mapping between these variables [4] [5]. It is a complex process that is difficult to decode and measure. We are however in the world where almost everything is measured and within the context of education, measures and assessments are key to ensuring that the learning process leads to the desired learning outcomes and some forms of certification.

With these perspectives, for play to be included in learning to increase motivation intrinsically, it will have to be more structured and “formal”, adhering to the play-learn rules and associated measures. How do we design this playful and gameful experience without making it too restricting and to allow the feedback cycle to be as natural as possible so that it may add to the “play” experience? “This shouldn’t be construed as a claim that “everything is a game.” Games are a particular manifestation of play, not its totality. They happen to be a good starting point for an investigation of play because the formality of their rules makes the machinery of play easier to observe and analyse” [6]. Hence, games are a means by which play can be observed in a more objective way, which will lead to purposeful and meaningful engagement.

[4] Pramling Samuelsson, I., & Johansson, E. (2006). Play and learning—inseparable dimensions in preschool practice. Early Child Development and Care176(1), 47-65.

[5] Broadhead, P., Howard, J., & Wood, E. (Eds.). (2010). Play and learning in the early years: From research to practice. Sage.

[6] Upton, B. (2015). The Aesthetic of Play. MIT Press.


The playful learning experience should also support a more hybrid approach- such as the one being explored and investigated by the Beaconing project.

By further investigating how learners use the different spaces for learning, how to exploit learners’ preferences for enhancing the use of digital platforms and the potential of gamification, pervasive gaming and context-aware technologies in enhancing a blended learning process, the expected benefits of blended spaces and contexts can be optimised.

The Beaconing project ( funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme investigates playful approaches for digitally enabling play-learn in everyday spaces fostering cross-subject learning. Figure 1 illustrates the pervasive learning concept that will be supported by the play-lesson plan.


Figure 1. Beaconing conceptual ecosystem

Learning within a classroom setting is expanded into the outdoor including personal spaces at home, providing support for the seamless transition from formal to informal contexts and vice versa. The key challenge for this approach is the feasibility of tracking meaningful measures and indicators for performance of informal learning activities.

The SGames keynote slides are as shown below:

Quick video of #BeaconingEU Kick Off 19th January

1.1The Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL), Coventry University hosted the BEACONING project kick off meeting from 19-20th January as described in my previous post, where 26 attendees representing 15 partners from 9 different countries came together for the first time to define a shared vision for the project over the next three years. The day and a half meeting covered many topics all delivered in a unique and interactive way to pave the way this ground breaking project set to change mind-sets and create new models and practices of teaching and learning.

The video is a quick overview of the kick off day. It was a shame that we didnt get to video all partners. The official project video is to come!

BEACONING stands for ‘Breaking Educational Barriers with Contextualised, Pervasive and Gameful Learning’ and will be focusing on ‘anytime anywhere’ learning by gamified techniques and technologies, framed under the Problem-Based Learning approach. The project is co-funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 687676.

The official website will be up and running soon –

Follow us on Twitter – @BeaconingEU 

Hashtag – #BeaconingEU