Silence is Golden – where action speaks louder

Yes was pretty quiet on the blogging side for the past 3 months. Was on the fast lane… not stopping for long anytime yet but taking a quick breather to reflect on what had happened so far and where I am at the moment.

Project works have been keeping me busy, on top of the usual administrative work, PhD examination and public engagement. And yes lots of traveling. I look at it as a Zelda adventure moving from one scene to another, entering one exciting doorway after another. Not without the usual stress and pressure. But I suppose the goal is bigger than the occasional upsets. Have always been glass half full – but I like to think that it is a more informed one. Though faith plays a key role as well- may not sit well with people who are working based on KPIs, but it seems to work so far.

Highlights from the past three months include the Coventry University Brussels office launch in April, where we showcased the fantastic portfolio the University has in applied research. I was also selfie-tastic on the day- as you do!

This launch was also followed up by a visit from the lab in June to explore opportunities for partnership with EU organisations, which also includes a session with the EU Commission DG Education.

May has also been busy with long haul travels, which started with the ChangSchoolTalks2018 in Toronto, where I keynoted alongside other gamification colleagues- those that I respect in the circuit. You know who you are! Great enthusiasm from the participants and clearly more work in the domain of serious games and gamification should be followed up in Toronto exploiting existing talents. Inspiring.

Beaconing’s Location-Based Games was also demo-ed in Toronto, where the link to the game was released via Twitter.

From Toronto, I moved on to Singapore and Malaysia, where I participated in a site visit for our Newton Funded CreativeCulture project. It was such a humbling experience working with the schools and community in a the remote Long Lamai Village in Borneo Malaysia. The potential of co-creativity inspired by play and games has been realised there, where teachers were able to remix existing games and create new games for teaching and learning STEM. This school is one of the three schools in rural Borneo that we are engaging with under the project, which is a spin off initiative from Gamechangers. I will have a separate blog post on the experience and lessons learnt.

You can watch a 17-minute long video capturing some of our adventures there:

When I was still in Malaysia, we have also managed to submit another Newton funding bid that is expanding the GameChangers approach for promoting social values, innovation and enterprise in Mexico. Another Gamification colleague from the circuit is part of the bid.

June was particularly interesting as well, where I was a member of the examination panel of an industrial PhD in Gamification in Barcelona- which I think was insightful. Well done Alberto! The gamification framework based on an agile approach will prove to be useful when it comes to being disruptive in the development and implementation of real solutions. Check out the Fraggle framework. Looking forward to the journal papers and perhaps full validation of the framework by gamification experts.

Then finally, the launch of the Centre for Advanced Computational Science at Manchester Metropolitan University on 27th June. Fantastic work by the team. A pleasure to be a member of the External Advisory Group, where games is one of the strands under the Centre’s Human Computer Interfaces lab.

Piloting a gamified platform with Sports Science

We have recently presented a paper that is looking at the perceived impact of competitive and collaborative environments on summative assessment. This study based its investigation on the StarQuest platform (, a social and gamified collaboration application hosting a private online environment for small groups of individuals to co-curate and share digital contents. The project was in collaboration with Playgen Ltd, who developed the platform.

The pilot was carried out with the Sports Science team, where the target participants were the second year undergraduate students (Sport Psychology, n=94), who enrolled on a module entitled “A Fundamental Approach to Motor Learning and Control”. The module was carried out by Mike Smith, Mike Duncan et al. for 11 weeks and the curriculum was delivered using a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach. Students were allocated to one of 20 tutorial groups, which consisted of approximately five students per group. There were five members of staff who acted as PBL facilitators and the curriculum was divided into four two-hour lectures, seven two-hour tutorials and three two-hour lab sessions. Problems were set from current issues in the world of sport and students had to prepare group and individual information related to providing a solution to the problem before the first tutorial.

The results highlighted a number of strengths and weaknesses of implementing a gamified online platform for team working, which will inform future design, development and deployment of gamified and learning platforms. The pilot demonstrates that teamwork skills can be scaffolded via StarQuest, and the mode the teams were impacted on their level of engagement and attainment in the learning process.

The academic achievement data suggests that the gamification of learning does not necessarily result in improved attainment for all students. It is clear that the marks for coursework 1 for those in the Collaborative condition were significantly lower when compared to those in the Control and Competitive conditions. Analysis of interaction data indicates that autonomy afforded within the control and collaborative modes encouraged learners to interact more with the system, whereby the competitive group interacted less (less liking and commenting on others’ posts) but competed more within the platform and possibly outside the platform judging from their coursework marks.

The study suggests that the motivational orientation of the learners (individually and collectively) influences the learning dynamics, and that the Competitive group outperformed those in the Collaborative group, which we propose is due to the Sport Psychology students being naturally competitive, in order to increase their level and position in relation to their peers. This suggests that the subject area being studied may attract a different type of student (e.g. Sport Psychology versus Art and Design), which consequently may have significant influence over whether a competitive or cooperative climate would be most advantageous in their learning and consequently summative assessment. Therefore, further investigations into the reasons for this anomaly are required.

The pilot also emphasises that the provision may prove to be more effective with level 1 students compared to other advanced levels, linking to the motivational conditions of learners (individually and collectively) that influence the learning dynamics and culture as they level up which has also been recommended when implementing PBL in to the curriculum. Many of the level 2 students this study had already been introduced to a systematic way of looking at the PBL pathway in the level 1 module ( and consequently had already established their own collaborative methods and channels of communication in the first year, e.g. using Facebook and WhatsApp groups.

Slide deck for the ECGBL 16 conference is as shared below. The slides summarise some of the key insights. The paper should be published in the proceedings soon.