From the field                              Introducing Serious Game Programming to                              Teacher E...
From the fieldlike Audacity. Thus, the course contributed to increasing their         needed a visual structure and it was...
From the fieldReferencesGee, J. P. (2007). What Video Games Have to Teach Us aboutLearning and Literacy, New York: Palgrav...
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Introducing Serious Game Programming to Teacher Education at Hamburg University

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At the University of Hamburg, integrating new media into educational settings is a central aspect of teacher education. The introduction of Serious Game programming to teacher education supports pre-service teachers as they familiarise themselves with creative ways of utilising the educational potential of new media, for themselves as well as their students.

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Introducing Serious Game Programming to Teacher Education at Hamburg University

  1. 1. From the field Introducing Serious Game Programming to Teacher Education at Hamburg UniversityAuthor At the University of Hamburg, integrating new media into educational settings is a cen- tral aspect of teacher education. The introduction of Serious Game programming toSilke Günther, Fakultät fürErziehungswissenschaft, teacher education supports pre-service teachers as they familiarise themselves withPsychologie und creative ways of utilising the educational potential of new media, for themselves asBewegungswissenschaft well as their students.Universität Hamburgsilke.guenther@uni-hamburg.de Hamburg University, one of the largest universities in Germany, accepts about 900 pre-ser- vice teachers per year. During their course of studies, they can choose to focus on courses in educational science aimed at deepening their knowledge about integrating new media intoTags educational settings.Pre-service Teacher In this article, we describe a course for pre-service teachers designed to get them into touchEducation, Serious Games with creating games for educational purposes while offering them various possibilities of having experiences with the benefits and the possible pitfalls of new media usage in educa- tion in general. In the second half of 2011, twenty-seven students attended the course as a part of their regu- lar coursework required for a master’s degree in teaching. Most of these students had never programmed before and were introduced to programming by using the iconic programming tools Alice 2.0 and Scratch. Three participants had been taught at school how to program in Delphi and were encouraged to make use of their skills. The central task of the course was to create a Serious Game that should either relate to the students’ subjects or to a pedagogical field they had already worked in, e.g. youth work. The game was to be supplemented by the structure for a lesson or an activity based on the educational possibilities of the game. A pre- requisite for conducting the course was the availability of a mobile notebook center, about one third of the students used their own notebooks. Mostly working in groups, the students familiarized themselves with the programming tools after drawing pictures of what the final ten games should look like. In addition, they were introduced to the ideas behind using Serious Games in educational settings (Gee, 2007) as well as basic concepts for developing and evaluating software in general, e.g. usability and playability (Genvo 2008). While programming their games, the students came across a num- ber of problems (Jenkins, 2002), which can be sorted into three major categories. Some obstacles came up, when the students tried to grasp basic programming concepts like loops or if instructions. To solve these problems, the students required little assistance and usually used a try-and-error approach, which was supported by the possibility of getting im- mediate feedback by playing the current version of the respective game. A lot of students were successful in grasping more advanced concepts like the usage of variables. A second kind of problems involved integrating visuals and audio into the games. Some students were not familiar with image editing freeware like GIMP or had never used free recording software ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eueL ers 30 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 30 • September 2012Pap www 1
  2. 2. From the fieldlike Audacity. Thus, the course contributed to increasing their needed a visual structure and it was necessary to define how tofamiliarity with software they can rely on when working on new present information, e.g. answer clues, to the learner. Besides,media projects with their future students. the level of difficulty had to be adjusted to the intended play- ers and motivating the players became important. After testingAnother difficulty was the didactic design of the games. The their games with the intended gamers twice, the students couldstudents had to make a lot of choices not only typical of design- adjust their programs and handed in their final versions at theing games for learning, but also reflecting the difficulties of de- end of the semester.signing analogue learning material, e.g. worksheets. The games Figure 1 shows a hidden-object game created to motivate junior students to acquire and practice an understanding of basic French. The game was pro- grammed in Alice 2.0. and embeds the search for hidden objects in a crime story, mainly told in French. The math game shown in Figure 2 main- ly relies on motivating by giving visual feedback. After choosing a number range, the players get to solve a num- ber of randomly created equations. The game was programmed in Delphi. The course was an initial attempt at in- troducing Serious Game programming to teacher education at Hamburg Uni- versity. The results showed that pro- gramming Serious Games offers a lot of possibility for supporting pre-serviceFigure 1: Hidden-Object Game for learning basic French – example of verbal motivation teachers in acquiring the skills neces- sary for integrating new media in educational set- tings.Figure 2: Game for training basic arithmetic operations within variable number ranges – example of visual motivation ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eu eL ers 30 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 30 • September 2012 Pap www 2
  3. 3. From the fieldReferencesGee, J. P. (2007). What Video Games Have to Teach Us aboutLearning and Literacy, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Genvo, S. (2008). Understanding Digital Playability. In Perron, B.& Wolf, M.J. (Eds.): The Video Game Theory Reader 2, New York:Routledge, 133-149.Jenkins, T. (2002). On the Difficulty of Learning to Program,retrieved August 10, 2012 from http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/localed/jenkins.html. Edition and production Name of the publication: eLearning Papers Copyrights ISSN: 1887-1542 The texts published in this journal, unless otherwise indicated, are subject Publisher: elearningeuropa.info to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivativeWorks Edited by: P.A.U. Education, S.L. 3.0 Unported licence. They may be copied, distributed and broadcast pro- Postal address: c/Muntaner 262, 3r, 08021 Barcelona (Spain) vided that the author and the e-journal that publishes them, eLearning Phone: +34 933 670 400 Papers, are cited. Commercial use and derivative works are not permitted. Email: editorial@elearningeuropa.info The full licence can be consulted on http://creativecommons.org/licens- Internet: www.elearningpapers.eu es/by-nc-nd/3.0/ ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eueL ers 30 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 30 • September 2012Pap www 3

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