Future of Games and Learning


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Keynote talk for FOTE12

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  • Hello and thank you for listening. I’m going to talk for the next twenty minutes about computer games and learning; I’m going to start with a little bit of future-gazing, followed by a bit of theory and some examples of games in practice, and finally some quick take-aways...Main focus is on Higher Education, although a lot of what I’m going to say is probably true for other sectors too.I’m a research fellow at Manchester Metropolitan and I specialise in research into the design and use of games in Higher Education. I’m also a self-confessed gamer, geek and lover of anything involving micro-chips...Mention the game that’s running, hope to exemplify some of these principles
  • Lo cost games – toolkits for game creation, casual gaming rather than high-end productionTraditional and mixed-media gamesGameMaker, Inform, Adventure Game Studio, Sandbox GamemakerGamification – hype will peak then backlash, idea of embedding gaming elements in teaching Playfulness Exploration and surprise Game structures – challenge, progression, rewards, scaffoldingStudent-centred gaming – students become game creators, supporting transferrable skills, creativity, technical skills, overlap between real world and game world (e.g. ARGs), developing resources and communities around the game
  • Action – many games embody active learning principlesCollaboration, problem-solving, experiential learning, principles of feedback and scaffolding, ability to practiceThese aren’t unique to games, but a way of getting active learning principles in ‘through the back door’Engagement – a lot of these techniques are used in gamificationGoals, rules, challenge, rewards, points, leaderboards/competition, collection, curiosity/mysteryWon’t appeal to everyone, can be disengaging as well, has to be well thought outPlay – educational games don’t have to be ‘serious’For me, playfulness is the key aspect, the idea of the ‘magic circle’ that allows people safe spaces in which to make mistakes, use of fantastic environment, narrative and storytelling, playing on the emotions, giving students agency to make decisions
  • Games embody the characteristics of active learning environments, learning by doing, experiential learning, problem-solvingMarketplace – 3rd year ‘application of marketing principles’ course, replaced a lecture series, heavily used scenarios, and examThe game took over the entire course, students we put into teams (companies) and had to make marketing decisions each week, starting with east decisions, the results of their decisions were fed back each week so that students could reflect on their choices and experienceAssessment not linked to game – presentation of marketing plan, marketing strategy report, individual reflectionplayFOTE12 – aims to get people actively engaging in the sessions, by looking out for specific things
  • The Great History Conundrum – University of LeicesterFirst year undergraduate history – critical web search and analysis skillsFour week online game, students provided with puzzles (with different difficulty levels), which can be solved any time, puzzles = points (shown on a leaderboard) and completing a puzzle leads to a new oneCollaboration – through swapping, and online discussion/wikiAssessment for combination of: a) points, b) discussion posts, c) group mark for students who submitted to the wikiplayFOTE12 - Points, continual updating, prizes, differing levels of challenge, set collectionFOTE12 – use of points, challenges of different types/levels, leaderboard, rewards
  • Staying the CourseDeveloped at MMU as a board game to set student expectations – students have to be first to get around the board, answering questions about different aspects of university life. Use of chance elements - surprisesCreate a forum for discussionUse the narrative of a student completing his/her first yearPhysical ‘large-scale’ versionLowers barriers, build trustplayFOTE12 – fun, silliness, getting people to do things/think a bit differently, meeting people at conferences not always easy, takes away the embarrassment factor
  • Still time to take part in the game.Game structure - race, prizes, reward progress, gradual challenges, visualise progressionAdd some mystery - randomness, surprises, do something unexpectedAdd some playfulness - use toys/physical objects, creative exercises, do something silly
  • Future of Games and Learning

    1. 1. What is the future of digital games and learning? Nicola WhittonManchester Metropolitan University
    2. 2. The future of games in HELow cost gaming Bespoke game production Casual games Traditional and mixed-media gamesGamification Beyond points, badges, leaderboardsBlurring boundary between player and creator Student-centred gaming
    3. 3. Why are games great for learning? Engagement Action Play
    4. 4. Action
    5. 5. Engagement
    6. 6. Play
    7. 7. Some ideas to take away...
    8. 8. Thank you for listening! Dr Nicola Whitton n.whitton@mmu.ac.uk @nicwhitton http://playthinklearn.net/http://gamesandlearningsig.ning.com/