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

GameChangers showcase


The GameChangers initiative has been a key staple at Coventry University, aiming to embed playful and gameful approaches in our teaching and learning. It has not been an easy ride as playfulness can sometimes be seen as a bit too “arty farty” and not “serious” enough for HE. However, we are blessed with champions of the approach in the different faculties, centres and campuses. And the programme is such a success with approaches being embedded in real courses and modules and new interesting tools created by staff and students as part of a pilot for their teaching and learning.

As part of the soft launch for GameChangers 2.0, we organised a showcase workshop for colleagues to demonstrate how they have embedded playfulness and gamefulness in their practices and how GameChangers have been sentimental to influencing these practices. It was great to see most of them there and to hear about their experiences. We are also in the process of collecting talking head videos so that we can showcase these champions on the GameChangers online hub. The website is being revamped as we speak and we hope to have a Beta version by end of July.

You can catch the session here:

#DisruptiveBytes – EU-Funded Game-based projects


In the spirit of collaboration amongst the different Eu-Funded projects, we organised a short lunchtime seminar to showcase the work that we have been carried out within the game-based research and innovation domain. The #DisruptiveBytes session is a regular lunctime meetup for staff across Coventry University and it is a great platform to demonstrate relevant outcomes that may inspire them to rethink teaching and learning.

The session touched on three projects that showcased reusable game components, new ways of developing gamified lesson planning and use of pervasive and location based technologies.

I presented the BEACONING project that stands for ‘Breaking Educational Barriers with Contextualised, Pervasive and Gameful Learning’ and focuses on ‘anytime anywhere’ learning by exploiting pervasive, context-aware and gamified techniques and technologies, framed under the Problem-Based Learning approach. You can see more updates on the project here.

 

It was a shame that Prof. Paul Hollins was not able to make it but his colleague Dr. Ying Liang was there to present the Rage Project, which stands for ‘Realising an Applied Gaming Eco-system’. The project aims to develop, transform and enrich advanced technologies from the leisure games industry into self-contained gaming assets that support game studios at developing applied games easier, faster and more cost-effectively. These assets will be available along with a large volume of high-quality knowledge resources through a self-sustainable Ecosystem, which is a social space that connects research, gaming industries, intermediaries, education providers, policy makers and end-users. The presentation discussed some initial findings of the project and how these might inform, shedding new light on the future development of Applied Games industry in Europe. 

Dr. Petros Lameras closed the seminar with a presentation on the MAGELLAN project, which has an overall vision to enhance the creativity of game designers by establishing a web platform for cost-effectively authoring, publishing, executing, and experiencing location based games. This unique integrated web-based infrastructure will be targeted at both skilled professional authors, but also at everyday authors without deep technical skills. MAGELLAN will be underpinned by scientific research into the principles and technologies of creative and location-based experiences in order to ensure that the platform is innovative while also extending our broader scientific understanding of creativity.

You can catch the presentations here:

Playing for Real – into a research paper


The Playing for Real project ended September 2016 and it has produced guidelines for how gamification can inspire social change. The practice partners have since adopted and adapted the approach into their engagement with the local unemployed. See also my reflections here.

I have been planning to write a research paper to share some of the reflections and qualitative insights on the pilot that was carried out in Barcelona 2016. The paper is nearly completed and will be submitted to the Journal of Games and Culture.

Playing for Real: Piloting gamification in the community of unemployed adults towards fostering new mind-sets and practices

Abstract

This paper explores the potential of gamification for informing the design of a community-driven programme based on the Playing for Real project, which aims at nurturing positive attitudes and behaviours amongst unemployed adults. The levelling up programme co-designed with social actors within the project is described and the lessons learnt and reflections on the approach and outcomes of the project are also included to inform best practices, further improvements and future potential of the approach for further work and applications in other domains.

Keywords: Unemployment, capacity building, gamification, play, game-based learning

The paper will unpick the programme that was developed and pilot, and concluded with some recommendations of how they can be adopted and adapted. Qualitative feedback from the social actors are also documented to provide insights on the impact of the approach.

The project has explored and exploited the crossings between ‘play’, ‘games’ and ‘gamification’ in order to provide a more elastic approach for fostering gamified capacity building that is focusing on individuals’ potential to drive social change within their own situations and potentially impacting their local community. It is not about providing the solutions to their situations, but it is to expose them with a new approach for realising different potentials and outcomes they can tap into and produce.

The project has developed a Gamification taxonomy, template and programme that can be reused and repurposed for other application domain (learning, social change, behavioural studies, health etc.). The participatory approach for the co-designing of the programme exploited the power of community-driven development and practice.

Watch this space.

The first #Gamification conference in Finland #Gamifin2017


It was a pleasure to be invited to speak at the first Gamification conference (GamiFIN 2017) in Finland. Finland has key players in games and gamification, such as Juho Hamari (the first Professor in Gamification). It is good to finally meet him in person. His systematic review of the literatures in the domain has been very useful and I have quoted it many times.

Juho presented his updated findings in his keynote at the conference (Day 2). The paper should be published soon. Looking forward to it.

Sebastian Deterding, a Reader at the University of York opened the conference with his keynote on theories and gamification, raising interesting insights and questions on how we need to conduct studies on the impact of gamification at a more granular level. What is actually working within the gamification process and system.

It was an interesting day filled with presentations on the various applications of gamification – both digital and non-digital. It was inspiring to hear about the different experiences and insights that came out of the experiments, pilots and actual implementation within real operational environments.

I closed day 1 with a keynote that emphasised on going back to basics and being inspired by the act of play and gameplay to inform the design of engaging experiences. Gamification is just a tool that can help us design such experiences.

Well done to the organisers, especially Jari Multisilta and Pauliina Tuomi of TUT. And Kristian Kiili, it was fab to see you again!

More tweet pics.

 

#BERA blog post on #GameScience methodology


I was recently invited to write a short blog post on Game Science for the British Educational Research Association (BERA) based on an article published on their SJR: Quartile 1 journal – British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET).

The use of game science in redesigning ordinary tasks is transforming everyday lives and most importantly injecting more fun in everyday contexts. The power of games to immerse and motivate, and the capabilities of games to foster and facilitate cognitive gain, awareness, and behavioural change have encouraged more games of this nature to be developed within a research context as well as to be deployed in real application setting.

The article describes a methodology for game science/game-based intervention development based on previous development experience that may inform future design and development for games and/or gamification with a purpose.

This piece of work, which has been published by the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET) (see Arnab and Clarke 2017) emphasises on the need for best practices within a multi-disciplinary setting to be translated into a trans-disciplinary development methodology, which infuses knowledge from different disciplines and creates a unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives. This infused methodological framework should act as a validated guide to inform a development process.

Read the blog post and/or the full article.

 

#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.