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!!!

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).

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:

Being hybrid in a digital age


I have shared various views and perspectives on how important it is to preserve the tangible relationship between our engagement with both digital and physical spaces and contexts. No one context is better than another and it all depends on what it is that we are trying to achieve in the learning process. How do we balance the different interactions towards a more seamless reflection of the learning process? Being exploratory and experiential is key to possibly enhancing this and foster a much deeper learning in the process.

Under the GameChangers programme (Coventry University), we are exploring different ways of addressing the need for a more hybrid approach to learning- the blended approach that offers a more seamless process; a less disconnected process.

At the recent ECGBL conference, we showcased two projects that are looking at ways of supporting a more live action and pervasive approach to learning built upon the importance of play in learning.

Paper 1: ImparApp: Designing And Piloting A Game-Based Approach For Language Learning

  • Authors: Koula Charitonos, Luca Morini, Sylvester Arnab, Tiziana Cervi Wilson, Billy Brick, Tyrone Bellamy-Wood, Gaetan Van Leeuwen
  • Abstract: The paper gives an overview of the development, deployment and evaluation of ImparApp, a location-based game to support teaching and learning of Italian Language. It draws on a project currently developed at Coventry University, which examines pervasive approaches to learning and exploits game-based techniques in contextualising language learning in a more active, innovative and engaging way.

Paper 2: EscapED: A Framework for Creating Live-Action, Interactive Games for Higher/Further Education Learning and Soft Skills Development.

  • Authors: Samantha Clarke, Sylvester Arnab, Luca Morini , Oliver Wood, Kate Green, Alex Masters
  • Abstract: There is a rapid growing interest and demand globally, for developing and participating in live, team-based, interactive gaming experiences otherwise known as Escape Rooms. Traditionally designed to provide entertainment, Escape Rooms require its players to solve puzzles, complete tasks and work together efficiently in order to complete an overall goal such as solving a mystery or escaping the room itself. The structure of Escape Rooms and their overall growing popularity, equally amongst players of all ages and genders, indicates that the premise of interactive, live-action gaming can be adapted to develop engaging scenarios for game-based learning. The authors therefore present; EscapED, as a work in progress, case study and paradigm for creating educational Escape Rooms and Interactive Gaming Experiences aimed at staff and students in further/higher education institutions. A focus is drawn to designing and developing on-site experiences, to provide engaging alternatives for learning and soft skills development amongst higher education staff and students. A review of a prototype scenario, developed to support Coventry University staff at a teaching and learning training event is given, alongside participant’s general feedback and reactions to the overall experience and perceived educational value of EscapED. The EscapED framework is then discussed and offered as a tool to help foster a best practice approach to developing future Interactive Game-Based Learning Experiences (IGBLE). To conclude, the authors examine future needs and requirements for refining scenario design, development and iterative live-player testing, to ensure the EscapED Programme meets all educational and player engagement standards.

You can read more about the design process for a live action approach here.

These are just some of the work that we are doing. Interested to find out more?- do not hesitate to contact us.

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 (beaconing.eu) 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.

pervasive

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 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.