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From the field                              Envigame – Linking Environmental Education to                              ICT...
From the fieldThe game is played by teams consisting of five and more players,             The content of the game has bee...
From the fielders. After initial difficulties most of the schools dealt smoothlywith the platform and ICT equipment. Stude...
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Envigame – Linking Environmental Education to ICT in Czech Primary Schools


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Author: Barbora Štollová.
The Envigame project was created to address Czech teachers' lack of methodological guidance and practical educational materials.

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Envigame – Linking Environmental Education to ICT in Czech Primary Schools

  1. 1. From the field Envigame – Linking Environmental Education to ICT in Czech Primary SchoolsAuthor The Envigame project was created to address Czech teachers’ lack of methodological guidance and practical educational materials. Its outcomes are a set of educationalBarbora Štollová programs in the form of interactive digital games and methodological aids. The projectENVI GAME ( Koordinátorka introduces a platform where most materials are uploaded and organized as game sce-projektu narios. It succeeds in linking Environmental Education (EE), a transversal theme in thebarbora.stollova@ Czech Primary School system, with ICT use.crossczech.czTags 1. Introduction Based on the previous experience from similar international projects dedicated to the imple-environmental education, mentation of the game based learning concept, the project decided to bridge two differenteducational platform, worlds – Environmental Education and ICT. Playing envi-games involves work in outdoor ter-education and ICTs ritory and execution of indoor activities with the use of computers, mobile phones and game platform. Ten schools and 300 pupils engaged in the pilot are mapping ecosystem and spe- cies biodiversity, cultural and historical heritage, use of natural resources, health and healthy lifestyle on local level all over the Czech Republic. 2. Learning by Playing Envigame project is based on several fundamental theoretical and practical pillars. The first is the concept of the Game Based Learning (GBL) often explained as learning by playing or education based on new digital games. In this context, a game constitutes of a clear frame given by the digital system, where player has to know the rules and accept them.1 New digital games are characteristic by certain features such as social cooperation, relations based on participation of all, equity and inclusivity, critical of mainstream, creativity between players, instigate real world actions, etc.2 Important aspects from the pedagogical point of view, are the reality of games with the social context, development of cultural critical and creative literacy of players and at the same time it represents a “window to culture (in our case en- vironmental culture)”.3 This is the theoretical foundation for the architecture of the basic project tool – the Envigame platform and its games4. 1 WASTIAU, Patricia; KEARNEY, Caroline; VAN DEN BERGHE, Wouter. How are digital games used in schools? : Com- plete results of the study [online]. Brusel : European Schoolnet, 2009 [cit. 2010-11-17]. Available from: http:// ISBN 978-907820987-4. 2 HAGUE, Cassie; WILLIAMSON, Ben; Digital participation, digital literacy, and school subjects. London 2009. Avail- able from: 3 Detto. 4 Available at At the moment in the pilot phase with restricted access. ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • www.elearningpapers.eueL ers 25 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 25 • July 2011Pap www 1
  2. 2. From the fieldThe game is played by teams consisting of five and more players, The content of the game has been created by the group of ex-roles within the team are divided by the players’ skills (“techni- perts in the field of environmental education, thus there is acian”, communicator, task editor etc.). Team has to fulfill lev- very small need from the teachers to work on the predefinedels of the game, the game is linear. Each game level has several games, they only have to adopt games to the local conditionstasks in various complexities. Those tasks are to be carried out before it is launched (insert GPS, define some places or spe-within the school – mostly at the computer lab and/or outside cies etc.). Methodology represents a manual leading the gamethe school in nature or town environment. The team either master through game and at the same time game master leadsdivides, and the game is played in parallel mode, or the game through the game played in sequences (firstly the whole team plays outdoors,then indoors). The communication between the team players is 4. Conclusion – Lesson Learnedmade via platform chat (computer and mobile phone with datatransfer). Indisputable experience for creation of a new digital game is its testing in the real life conditions. As the philosophy of theLength of the task varies from 20 to 45minutes. Completed project is to develop students ICT skills also outside the compu-tasks are uploaded to the platform and evaluated by the game ter lab, the project simulates real situations related to environ-master. The game master is a teacher of particular subject or so ment, where new technologies has to be used. Very importantcalled Environmental Education Coordinator. The game master part of the pilot preparation was a one day workshop for teach-provides discreet help to student teams if necessary and he also ers “game masters” and their “assistants”, mostly school ICTsets the pace of the game by instant task evaluation. Whether coordinators. During that workshop teachers played the gamethe task is fulfilled or not depends solely on the evaluation of as students in order to gain an important experience of the stu-the teacher, the platform does not evaluate tasks automatically. dent role. The use of equipment caused some problems to adultIn case of satisfactory task fulfillment, the game masters gives participants; nevertheless, the obstacles were overcome by thepoints to the task a lets the team to play another task in the professional lectors. Pilot pedagogical teams are set up in suchsame or another (higher) level. way that both methodological (EE coordinators) and technical (IT coordinators) support of the game are covered. Some of the3. Bridge between the Technologies, school teams engaged into the game playing more colleagues in Environmental Education and Pedagogy order to share the subjects in which the game is played.The second pillar of the project emphasizes practical use of the During the pilot, the feedback is collected via evaluation ques-game and ready-to-use methodology for teachers. According to tionnaire filled in monthly intervals. As the pilot has not finishedthe survey carried out by the Ecological Education Club in year yet, so far we have only interim conclusions. Actual results show2008 among the member schools5 and the analysis prepared by the game is easier for pupils than for adults to play. Teachersthe Research Institute of Education6, there is an insufficient use spent more time on studying manuals; they spend a lot of timeof active teaching methods in the crosscutting theme of EE and with game coordination and setting up game players teams. Or-a very small amount of practical teaching programs to be used ganization part is more demanding, especially if the teams areoutside of school environment exist. There are seven games on set of more than one class. Rather easy seems to be for teachersthe platform (also called game scenarios) played in pilot trial by to adopt the game scenarios to local conditions.the schools at the moment in ready-to-use status. The games On the contrary, motivation seems to be a challenging aspect ofare played at various length from 4 to 6 hours (so called project Envigame. Although pupils like to use ICT, if the level or task isday games) to midterm and whole term length with a periodic- difficult to solve, they lose their “drive” for playing.7 However,ity of playing for 45minutes a week. the content of the game has been very welcomed by the teach- 7 Tasks are set up in such way, that repetitive action is possible if the game master decides that the task is insufficiently carried out. However, this re-5 Approximately 120 schools in the Czech Republic. petitive action is viewed by the pupils as the least interesting part of the6 JANOUŠKOVÁ, Svatava: Environmentální výchova – ukázka zpracování. [cit. game. 2010-11-17]. Dostupné z: ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • eL ers 25 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 25 • July 2011 Pap www 2
  3. 3. From the fielders. After initial difficulties most of the schools dealt smoothlywith the platform and ICT equipment. Students’ reaction wasvery positive mainly because of the integration of new appli-ances (GPS, smart phone, digital cameras) and creative work(students had to work with many kinds of different software).8Social networking improved, especially on those school combin-ing different age groups. Many of the teachers endorsed equityand inclusivity aspect of the game. The notion of creativity var-ies from game to game and according to the age group. Theolder the teams are, the more independent the decision makingprocess is. As for players’ literacy, there have been a lot of dis-cussion on that issue and the opinions are biased.The aim of the project is to introduce new ICT to teachers, notonly as tools but also as sources changing the character andteaching style in particular subjects. To secure the sustainabil-ity of the new pedagogical concept is always difficult; howeverwe would like to launch in the last year of the project series ofworkshops in all regions of the Czech Republic. We plan to in-volve at least 1300 teachers and policy makers in the workshopswhere demo of the game will be presented.8 Mostly open source. 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: 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: The full licence can be consulted on Internet: es/by-nc-nd/3.0/ ing earn eLearning Papers • ISSN: 1887-1542 • eL ers 25 u ers.e gpap .elea rnin n.º 25 • July 2011 Pap www 3