In this edition of the Serious Games Network Newsletter we would like to draw your attention to the revamped SEGAN community website
Additionally we will be presenting a recipe for the integration of an educational game into a lesson
, as well as give you observations on how pupils reach the educational goals in the flow
Finally we will present how students of computer science teaching education program on University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education, design and test their games.
New SEGAN Community Website
In the beginning of June 2013 a completely refurbished Serious Games Network community website was launched.
The now clearly targets distinct groups of people: teachers
can share and find useful tips and tools for the use of games in their classroom, developers
can stay up to date on existing and emerging development tools, and researchers
can join the discussion on Serious Games and get the latest information on events.
If you find yourself in any of the before mentioned groups or are simply interested in the topic, we warmly invite you to join us on the SEGAN community. See you on http://seriousgamesnet.eu
Use of games in school
Serious learning games are basically designed to be used as a learning material. But is it enough to let students play with the game or should we prepare additional activities to enhance learning? How can we integrate learning games into lessons?
As teachers we are aware of the fact that we have limited time to present certain topic, so we need good reasons and strategies to integrate a new strategy into our lessons. Serious learning games can be one of appropriate learning materials if used correctly. For this reason, we are presenting some methods which can be used in order to effectively integrate serious games into lessons.
Games can be very effective if used as motivation before the lecture. The game environment can help students focus on the topic that needs to be learned. For example using games we can illustrate life in a specific era. This can be achieved by showing scenes or playing certain parts of the game as an illustration before the lesson. It is recommended that this activity is followed by gameplay either at school or as homework.
Another example of integration of serious game into lecture is that the teacher plays the game as an illustration of the theme one is explaining. This gameplay can consist of playing just short parts of the game during the lesson, which helps students visualise the topic presented by the teacher.
Games can also be used as a group activity in classroom. This is not a classical lecture as social constructivistic approach is used. Strong motivational elements can be found in this kind of activity: flow experience, challenge of the game that should fit the ability of the players, feeling in control of the situation, clear, appropriate and immediate feedback, peer interaction and collaboration, where each member of the team is responsible for learning outcomes of the group and others. After the gameplay teachers should discuss the main learning goals from the game with students and point out main objectives so students reflect on the knowledge they should have obtained from the game.
As playing games in class may be a time consuming activity it is also possible to use games as home activity. This can be done as a continuation of the first two methods mentioned or as independent activity. If used as the latest, it should be followed by analysis or reflection later in classroom, which can be organised as discussion or group work based on the game, which helps students make joint conclusions, as well as detect and correct misunderstandings. It is recommended that students gain some initial background knowledge before the activity.
University level students creating and testing serious games in schools
At the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education students of Computer Science teacher education in their 4th
year of studies in groups design serious learning games on the chosen topic from the field of Computer Science. This year students designed several games using e-Adventure, among them were games dealing with the safe use of social networks “Niko and social network”, game dealing with ASCII code and binary numbers “Secret code”, and game dealing with the basic programming loops “Magical solution 3”.
All of the above games were tested in class with pupils of age 12 to 15. As it showed the most difficult thing was the creation the testing protocols and pre- and post-tests of knowledge. Despite the difficulties results of the testing showed that games were well designed but needed some improvements.
Serious learning game designing is not new at the faculty. Some interesting games were designed by the students also in the previous years. One of the best games from last year “Dr. Zdravko Dren and his adventures”, deals with curing the computers of viruses, Trojans and worms. The English version of the game can be found online on http://hrast.pef.uni-lj.si/games/
"Design of Serious Games" Tallinn Summer School
This summer SEGAN is holding its 2nd Summer School in Tallinn, Estonia. The Summer School CFP has been well received by the Serious Games communities worldwide; up to now, we have had a number of registered attendees. The participants come from various backgrounds such as teaching, research, development, etc.
Register online soon at: http://summerschool.tlu.ee/practical/registration/
The registration closes soon, as we aim to run a small to medium sized class (maximum 30 participants).
Presentation of serious games and observations
On Sunday, 06/09/2013, Association for Technical Culture of Slovenia held an award ceremony called ZOTKA's talents for students in primary and secondary schools who competed in science competitions on national level.
Along with the event we presented our educational games portal under which we collect educational games designed by students from University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education. Games were created as a project assignment in course
Multimedia learning materials or as a result of diploma thesis. The goal was to introduce new methods for learning, showing students how learning can be presented as fun and engaging even though it is based on school curriculum.
Despite the fact that students found all of presented games interesting and fun to play, the game »Niko and social networks« drew the most attention. The goal of the game is to organize birthday party and invite all Niko's friends. His success is based on a number of friends that will accept the invitation. Their decision in based on player's action on social networks (choosing safe password, publishing appropriate pictures…). While player is focused on acquiring friends for his birthday party he is also learning how to act responsibly on social networks as the course content is cleverly hidden in the game scenario. Student can progress in game only if she understands the concepts we want to teach.
It was interesting to observe how children were motivated to repeatedly re-playing the game if the objective was not fully met. Their reactions proved us again how games can induce state of flow and thus contribute to enhanced learning and high motivation.