Think Hybrid


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).

think hybridReflecting 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).

#BeaconingEU and #C4Rs at #ECGBL17


ECGBL is a mecca for game-based learning researchers, developers and practitioners. It is great to be here again and this time around with two papers based on work carried out in the H2020 Beaconing and Crowd4Roads projects.

Taxonomy of a gamified lesson path for STEM education: The Beaconing approach

 Aikaterini Bourazeri, Sylvester Arnab, Olivier Heidmann, Antonio Coelho and Luca Morini

 Abstract

21st Century learning focuses on different skills and expertise that learners should develop for a successful life and career, and these are usually organised into four main categories: ways of thinking (e.g. creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving); ways of working (e.g. communication and collaboration); tools for working (e.g. digital literacy) and living in the world (e.g. citizenship, social responsibility, awareness). Learning should be reshaped to better match these requirements and prepare learners for open societies where learning will be lifelong and based on critical-thinking, cultural awareness, flexibility and adaption to changes. This paper introduces a new approach developed under the scope of the Beaconing project, which aims to contextualise the teaching and learning process, connecting it with problem-based mechanics within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The aim is to provide the missing connection between STEM subjects and real-world interactions and applications, and it is developed with inputs from teachers, researchers, educational experts and industry leaders. The pedagogical foundation is based on problem-based learning, in which active learning is in the centre and learners have to work with different tools and resources in order to solve problems (quests). Teachers facilitate, assess and author pervasive and gamified learning activities (missions). And these quests are gamified in order to provide non-linear game plots. This paper discusses the taxonomy for the Beaconing lesson path, which includes specific categories such as STEM competencies, learning objectives, pedagogical resources, rewards, narratives, game plots, location-based activities and game parameters. The lesson paths developed with the stakeholders will be populated with gamified learning activities such as mini-games, location-based mini-games, location-based activities and physical activities. The lesson paths will scaffold learners through self-directed and independent study, extending the learning experience beyond the classroom settings and complementing existing methods of teaching. The gamified lesson path taxonomy provides the backbone to the Beaconing platform and the associated components. This approach is adoptable and adaptable to various learning objectives.

 

A Gamified Approach for Facilitating a User-engagement Strategy for Public-Led Collective Awareness Platform for Road Sensing

Samantha Clarke, Sylvester Arnab, Mark Lewis, Luca Morini, Saverio Depriori, Alessandro Bogliolo and Lorenz Klopfenstein

Abstract

Collective awareness is a means by which communities can engage in collective action and crowdsourcing through citizen participation, leading to the accumulation of big data essential for informing decision making and for solving difficult problems.  However, engaging a huge number of the general public in a crowdsourcing initiative is a mammoth task. This paper explores the approach implemented by the Crowd4Roads (C4Rs) project, which aims at combining smart sensing, ride sharing and gamification applications to harness collective intelligence for providing open data towards boosting traffic conditions in Europe. Drawing on the theory of gameful/playful successes of using gamification as a motivating and behavioural change tool, Crowd4Roads adopts gamification as an innovative strategy for fostering user-engagement and promoting growth within the projects user acquisition and retention metrics. This paper presents the development approach of the C4Rs’ SmartRoadSense system and the design of the gamified layer that is employed to actively engage a large number of users for the pilot trials of the system. The paper provides a discussion and reflection on the development approach.

 

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

#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:

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.

 

Game-based intervention design meets Design Thinking


It was a great pleasure to run a one-day workshop with Daniel Meusburger with the University of Munich on 6th May 2017. A weekend well spent.

The workshop merged the transdisciplinary considerations for game-based intervention design and the design thinking methodology for empowering non-game designers to design their own playful and gameful strategies. The participants are involved in psychology and clinical research within the context of interventions for children with learning disorders. And this is part of their project for developing digital and online hub for supporting children and professionals, such as teachers, parents, support workers, etc. Picture1

This calls for a methodology with rigour that will ensure that the change objectives and measures intended for the proposed intervention programme are emphasised in the design process. The specific slide deck for the transdisciplinary approach is shared below. And you can read more here.

The group achieved first iteration of their design for interventions related to learning disorders and it is my hope that they will adopt and adapt the approach to develop programmes that will be implemented.

 

 

#BeaconingEU showcased at #Else2017


We managed to meet our milestone for the end of April and presented what we have developed so far at the ELSE Conference 2017 as one of the 1/2 day workshops. It was pretty intense with quite a variety of prototypes to show- from the integrated gamified lesson path through to the location-based game authoring and the actual pervasive games that was designed specifically for the workshop.

Introduction slides for the workshop:

 

A quick introduction to our lesson path approach:

Some tweets from the day, also featuring the winners from the workshop on the day – the pervasive game, teacher feedback and student feedback. Well done to all and well done to the Romanian partner for making it a success.

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