Midway through Beaconing


1.1The Beaconing project has just completed its first review (the first 18-month Reporting period) with success. Thanks to the reviewers and the EU Project Officer, we passed with no corrections; all deliverables excepted. We are highly inspired by the feedback from the reviewers with regards to the value of work we have completed so far, specifically the development and integration outcomes.

Beaconing aims to support anytime anywhere learning by exploiting gameful and location-based techniques and technologies. We believe that a strong narrative that encapsulates a learning journey and the flexibility to contextualise learning in real geo-locations are key elements to engaging learners with various educational activities and challenges. And most importantly, we would like to support the teaching and learning community in discovering new ways for creating a more playful lesson plan populated with gameful resources without the need to code or script.

The project has produced individual components, which are deemed to be exploitable, such as the gamified lesson path (GLP) taxonomy, context-aware activity authoring tool, the GLP authoring tool and the gameplot editor. As a platform, Beaconing will allow you to reuse and modify existing lesson paths (shared by the community of teachers) and also create new ones. Please see a brief overview of the project and achievements so far:

 

Coordinating a project as large as Beaconing is indeed a mammoth task. The commitment from the work package leaders and the whole consortium is key to our success so far. It is by no means perfect but we have come so far as a consortium since the kick off in January 2016 (read year 1 reflections). Personality, professionalism and relationships are three key elements which I found essential on top of the relevant expertise. And a huge shout out to my coordinating team at Coventry University!

What I also learnt as the coordinator of the project is that individuality is key to collective creativity. In our case, components which are created based on the individual expertise of the different partners are now being integrated into the Beaconing ecosystem with functionalities that can be exploited individually or collectively. It is time to work closely with the user segments in the different pilot sites to identify sustainability and exploitation.

As part of our activities in the second half of the project, we aim to widen our reach to the different market segments. The pilot is currently ongoing and we are excited with the prospect of testing out our solutions with the stakeholders.

We will also soon announce an EU-Wide Location-Based event. Watch this space!!! We are coming to you!

Follow us on twitter – @BeaconingEU

Check out our publications so far

Quick reflection on @disrupt_learn, #gamescience and associated areas


A quick reflection on some of the work we are doing at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL). Since the official launch in 2014, the lab has successfully created a space and culture, demonstrating the  trans-disciplinarity of the research, development and practice outcomes of pathfinder and exploratory projects (both internal and external), where the use and the context of both mainstream and innovative approaches and technologies are explored, repurposed and remixed towards conceptualizing a more hybrid approach to teaching and learning. Such an approach has led to new models and practices being directly embedded in real modules and courses as well as indirectly supported via a more informal means to facilitating learning. The lab provides a context and model for the university to reposition and reconfigure education, research, development and practice in a more exploratory, experiential and agile manner.

The lab’s implication and impact on teaching and learning are explored based around four strategic aims:

  • Context: Help to re-position and re-configure education at Coventry University within the rapidly changing technological, social, economic, and political contexts that will shape the global learning landscape by developing a distinctive, internally and externally recognised and valued ethos and approach to higher education innovation and development.
  • New mindsets: Become a source of new research-informed pedagogic thinking. Stimulate innovation by challenging mindsets amongst stakeholders in teaching and learning. It will advocate provocative and radical ideas, models and approaches to existing education, analysing best practice and disseminating
  • New practices: Champion and evaluate new practices, approaches and methodologies and provide innovative/experimental spaces, funding, resources, additional capabilities and mechanisms for development and experimentation in methodologies, tools and pedagogies.
  • New models: Encourage and support the development of new forms of partnership, new models of cross-faculty collaboration, and new modes of delivering education provision via new platforms, technologies and ways of working which make the walls of the institution more porous.

Research into practice and pedagogy: Based on the recent research team’s away day, key insights and outcomes from existing projects can be categorised into the following themes:

  • Seamless LearningContinuity of the learning experience across contexts, space and time
  • Creative Pedagogies – Taking notice, seeing afresh and revisiting learning from different directions
  • Digital PedagogiesPedagogies enacted and experienced where digital technology is the key element using digital technologies
  • Student led learningSupporting students to take ownership of their learning
  • Graduate preparednessEncouraging learning which supports learner awareness, global citizenship and living with complexity
  • Open/connected learning Opening up opportunities for inclusion and participation in learning and research
  • Playful and Gameful learningFostering meaningful experiences afforded by the agency, fun and engaging aspects of play and games
  • Flipped (& beyond)shifting transmissive pedagogies

These insights are being further synthesised (also made more specific) and bitesize takeaways and know-hows will be provided for adoption and adaptation. Findings to be published on the DMLL’s website.

Based on the work carried out within the Game Science strand and the associated areas (Beyond Flipped, Openbadging, creative pedagogy, etc.), some of the highlights are as follows:

  • Hybrid spaces- The lab provides a space for teaching and learning practices to be re-configured and re-positioned as a response to the blurring of boundaries between learning spaces (digital/physical) and contexts (formal/informal/social). Research, development and practice within key areas, such as Game Science, Flipped Learning and Student Directed Learning emphasise the need for continuity of learning experience across contexts, space and time, recognising that there is a need to break the traditional boundaries between students and teachers, between and among personal abilities and types of learning. Acknowledgement of informal learning (a more creative, playful, inclusive and without barriers) as an extension to formal methods is an important means for promoting ‘lifelong learning for all’ and, subsequently, for reshaping learning and learner preparedness to better match the needs of the 21st century knowledge economies and open societies.
  • Flagship programmes for fostering change- Programmes, such as GameChangers, Beyond Flipped and OpenBadging establish means through which such spaces and contexts can be blended. GameChangers for instance piloted an open and informal programme for staff and students to adopt a co-design thinking exploiting digital and non-digital means, informed by a holistic gamified approach developed at the lab. This approach places learning objectives and pedagogy to form a strong foundation upon which gamified and technology-enabled solutions can be developed. Outcomes and toolkits, such as the Game Design Thinking programme, escapED, OpenBadges, Starquest and ImparAPP are currently being developed and/or implemented as part of the University’s Flipped agenda, blending digital/physical spaces as well as formal/informal instructions. Trans-national collaborations in teaching and learning is also demonstrated by projects such as the 3CityLink.
  • Game Science creating context for playful and gameful techniques– From the Game Science strand, the lab has defined an overarching domain within which research, development and practice of purposeful play, playful learning space, game design thinking, gamification and serious games can be contextualized with impact in real operational environment (educational, social change, healthy behaviour) as the key driver for promoting a more human(e)-centred design of a learning process, environment and space. As an overarching strand, this will inform the university of the context of its work within these sub-domains. The lab is key to creating this context, which will involve engagement from staff, who are exploring the potential of Game Science in their current practice. Including Game Science (playful and gameful, game-based learning, gamification, serious games, persuasive designs) in the Lab’s core activities has seen staff and students working together to co-design and create new game-based resources (see Imparapp and GameChangers), external recognition in the key research focus (e.g. focus on gamified and pervasive learning via H2020 Beaconing project, where we are the coordinator) and other achievements (REF-able publications, new models/frameworks (such as the holistic model  and the transdisciplinary development model that has informed projects such as Beaconing, Imparapp and gamechangers), keynote roles, awards, etc.). Other associated projects under the Game Science strand: here Also see my previous post on Gamification, Experience Design and Disruptions, and Remixing Play.
  • Impact and esteem- Moreover, externally funded projects, such as the EU flagship Beaconing project, provide a testimony to the impact of the lab’s ethos and specifically the focus on a hybrid-learning model in shaping a more global agenda in education. The lab currently has 8 EU funded projects, demonstrating our visibility and esteem.
  • Exploratory, agile and transdisciplinary- The lab as a cross-university unit allows for a healthy working relationships and culture to be developed through staff-led projects. The exploratory and agile model adopted by the lab has opened up opportunities for teaching-intensive staff to be interested in research and development of new approaches that could innovate their own practices. The transdisciplinarity of the projects has made the experience for both the staff and lab even more enriching, especially when the new approaches are being implemented in the modules and courses and demonstrating real impact.
  • The experiential cascading effect and impact– The cascading effect of the lab’s impression on the staff, who were involved in the first round of projects and the subsequent impact on the specific groups/schools/department has seen projects being initiated and developed on the back of their first engagement with the lab. The lab’s approach is not only exploratory but it is also experiential. For instance, the Starquest pilot, which was part of a PhD project and the first project under the Game Science theme has involved staff from the HLS (Sport Science) and EEC (CEM). The pilot has led to (1) the Starquest gamification and social platform being integrated with Moodle and taken up by lecturers at HLS and EEC, who are not involved in the original pilot, (2) transmedia (videoscribe, lego and stop-motion animation, fat-suit) being used as part of other modules at the HLS (won PGCert Innovative and Creative Teaching in 2015), (3) new initiatives to be developed, such as the Immersive Narrative project with the Sport Therapy team and CELE, and (4) the GameChangers programme being adapted for a masters course (Sport Psychology) in the new 2016/2017 term. Other outcomes from GameChangers, such as the ‘What is your story?’ meta-experiential design cards are now being used by academic staffs (such as the Flying Faculty (HLS) in China, which has recently won the PGCert Student Satisfaction award 2016), and the escapED programme that is being adapted for the Ethical Hacking course at the EEC amongst others. The Badging initiative has also seen traction in the interest to deploy open badging in existing modules/courses.
  • Staff and students dynamics– Projects, such as ImparAPP, SoundEar, etc. demonstrate the lab’s aim to break barriers between staff and students, where they have to collaborate as a team. For the students, this experience has impacted their graduate preparedness and created a clear narrative for their own learning. The lab is not only about developing projects but also the individuals who are involved in the experience, with the hope that they could be champions in their own faculties.
  • Pathfinding engagement– To facilitate dialogues between staff, students and the lab, the lab has a programme of on and offline events, development sessions, briefings, showcases and workshops; all captured for wider dissemination. Regular events such as the #DisruptiveBytes, Autumn Expos, Spring Expos and specialised workshops (Open Education, Accessibility, etc.). These events are key to introducing new approaches, challenging existing practices and fostering uptake of new practices in existing modules and courses. Subscribe to our youtube channel.
  • Joint dissemination – University staff, who are involved in our projects are also actively participating in disseminations as champions of their changing and shifting practices. On top of internal and external disseminations, the lab has also produced ref-able publications in SJR: Q1/Q2 journals (9 peer reviewed articles so far) and articles published and presented at targeted conferences and expos. Check out some of the publications here (2014-2016) and the most recent accepted articles for the flagship European Conference in Game-based Learning 2016.

These are only some of the highlights. More insights and highlights will be published soon and disseminated for reuse and remix within teaching and learning practices.