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.

Follow the project on Twitter and Facebook.

 

#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.

 

Coventry meets Italy in a location-based game


screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-16-54-21We have been piloting a learning game co-design and production approach between teaching staff, students and researchers based on the holistic game-design approach, which has led to the development of a location-based game for learning basic Italian. The game, aptly called ImparAPP is still in the prototype stage, where it is currently being evaluated with our students at Coventry University.

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-16-43-59

Developed using the TaleBlazer authoring tool, the game allows students to learn Italian and discover Coventry city at the same time. A player will explore the city from point to point (on the map) searching for clues as part of the game quests, absorbing as much of the Italian language as possible through interactions, quizzes, videos and audio cues and use them to tackle the in-game challenges and ultimately progress the story of the game.  Any items collected will be stored in the inventory. The game dynamics are facilitated via engaging narrative and story as the players go through the locations that are triggered as they complete specific tasks/scenes.

If you would like to test the current prototype, please follow the instructions below:

  • Download Taleblazer app on:
  • Open the TaleBlazer app, click menu and insert the game code below for levels 1-4:
    • Game code for Level 1: gtvvwhj
    • Game code for Level 2: gpudhyb
    • Game code for Level 3: gkyyhge
    • Game code for Level 4: gihlmfd
  • NOTE: The prototype version will allow game locations to be clicked/tapped on as you progress with the story and tasks (quizzes, puzzles, etc.). If you are in Coventry, you can use the location-based functionality of the game.
  • If you are not in Coventry: Once you are in the ImparAPP game, please click on menu -> setting and switch Tap to Visit– pls see below:

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-16-38-32

Let us know what you think! If you are interested in participating in the study, please let me know.

Existing findings from the preliminary studies will be presented at the upcoming ECGBL conference. Please also see a reflection video from the subject experts (colleagues from the Languages Centre) below.

Big shout out to the team members: Billy Brick, Tiziana Celvi-Wilson, Tyrone Bellamy-Wood, Gaetan Van Leeuwan, Luca Morini and Koula Charitonos. And thanks to the STEP team at the MIT for their support.

 

 

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.

Re-Mixing Play


remixplayPlay is key to expanding and broadening our embodied experience with our surroundings. 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. It is a complex process that is difficult to decode and measure.

We are in the world where almost everything is measured. Competitive play for instance allow for  winning conditions to be determined and play outcomes to be assessed. A more summative approach to assessing play leads to having winners and losers at part of the experience. But what about the process in between. Are there any feedback mechanism that would influence the play process and steer the activity towards a more serious experience. What is serious? Serious competition with tangible outcomes/rewards or serious endevours with an aim to win for the sake of the adrenaline buzz?

This would mean that play that is meant to foster autonomy and freedom has now become more structured and “formal”. A personal experience is now influenced by the need to adhere to the play rules and the winning conditions? Play has been re-mixed into the context of gameplay. 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 analyze” (Upton, 2015). Hence, games are a means by which play can be observed in a more objective way, which will lead to purposeful and meaningful engagement.

Entertainment games provide this environment, where players can immerse in the “tasks” at hand. Play is now more designed with specific goals (pre)set for the players. The engaging characteristics of digital entertainment games and the need to inject more fun and play in serious activities have also inspired the use of the same technology for achieving more serious and purposeful outcomes. Serious Games as we called it is formally defined as the use of digital game technologies for purposes other than entertainment. (Game) Play has been re-mixed in such a way that the designed play experience is mapped against some serious and measurable outcomes (games for learning, games for change, games for health, etc.).

However, there is a danger that the mapping can be imbalance, where either the play elements or serious goals are compromised. Challenging! There are however existing studies such as flow (see Kristian et al., 2013;  2014), Learning-Game Mechanics Mapping (Arnab et al. 2015, Lim et al. 2014) and Transdisciplinary Methodological Framework (Arnab & Clarke 2016) amongst others which can be exploited and expanded towards informing the design and development process.

Another domain that is also influenced by the engaging and motivating aspects of games and play is Gamification, defined as the use of game elements (mechanics, dynamics, aesthetics) in non-game contexts. Simple examples include FitBit, Habitica, Starbucks reward app, Zombies Run, LinkedIn leaderboard, FourSquare, RiseGlobal leaderboards and many more.The more effective use of gamification will normally go beyond the extrinsics and focus more on intrinsic motivations and means to engage and sustain participation in an otherwise tedious task. Essentially, key to expanding gamification beyond the basic Points, Badges and Leaderboards (PBL) is to go back to basic and unpick the autonomy  of playfulness and the “formality” of gamefulness. Gamification in its positive forms maps the intrinsic pull of playfulness and gamefulness against purpose and meaning and the personalised needs of the individuals to achieve “mastery” in whatever activities they are engaging with. The activity- (actionable) feedback cycles commonly used in gamification are underpinned by meaningful measures,  observation and analysis afforded by the formality of game-like rules (mechanics and dynamics).

There are still a lot of studies and investigations that need to be carried out on the mapping between the autonomy of play, the formality of games, the desired serious outcomes and the individual needs of the target audience, which could transform ordinary activities into extraordinary experiences. The hybridness of space and contexts afforded by the advancement of technologies, such as the Internet of Things will supersize the playful and gameful experience. It is time to re-mix and transform play and make it even more pervasive in day to day life. Games and gamification are the instruments that can help to formalise and structure the experience to create context and narratives for the experience. Designed autonomy and serendipity?