I have been experimenting with playing Ingress as part of INF541. Although the game play is very interesting that are worthy of a blog post, I wanted to write about a few things that immediately stuck me about Ingress and started me thinking about whether the game’s accessibility and inclusivity.
Ingress is a location-based, augmented-reality mobile game. The concept is basically that you pick one of two sides and you battle for control of “portals” that are located around your town or city.
To start the game you must login using a google account. Once you have logged in, it will tell you the nearest “portal”.
The game is owned by Google and so requiring a Google sign-in is understandable but it immediately stops people from playing the game if they are in a country where Google is banned (e.g. China) or people who feel uncomfortable with sharing information with Google due to privacy concerns.
The concerns about Google are fairly minor, my major concern with the game is the accessibility of the portals. I live in a fairly major city but my nearest portal is over a kilometer away. Most off the portals around my area are not close to public transport.
I feel Scott makes a really good point in his post, for a fairly small amount of effort the needs of a diverse range of the community can be included.
As augmented reality games become more popular, they should take in to consideration a broad a range of society as possible in their development. Whether that be people who are concerned with privacy, people who don’t have access to transport or people with a disability.
In a number of the key note presentations there were references to needing to help Australians become “cyber literate”
Having spent most of the last few weeks trying to get my head around what digital literacy was, this new term was interesting to me. Having done a quick Google, the results seem to suggest that digital literacy and cyber literacy are interchangeable.
I would mostly agree with this but would suggest that based on the way it was being using by people such as Gai Brodtmann MP would imply that cyber literacy also implies a certain amount of awareness of the need for privacy and security in your digital life, the threats you might face and the ways you might mitigate them.
This idea of safety in your digital life was furthered by a talk by Jess Wilson from the Goodthings Foundation. Jess’ work is focused on cyber inclusion and helping older Australians get online. She said that the main reason these people are not online is that they are afraid of the online environment (e.g. getting scammed).
So although the terms digital and cyber literacy may currently be interchangeable, the use of the term cyber literacy may allow us to start a conversation about how we transition from using technology to using it securely.
Looking back at my initial notes on “connected learning” I have scrawled “What is this? There are no decent succinct definitions!”. This is not a criticism of the course content, it is my usual reaction when confronted by theoretical constructs. However, my reaction is a good bellwether. I do not work in an education institution and if I don’t understand a concept, then it usually follows that others within my organisation will struggle as well. This means that it is worth me documenting not only an understandable explanation (when I find it) but also the process of how I got to that understanding so that I can (hopefully) bring others on the journey.
It was watching the following video a couple of times that helped me to come to grips with what “connected learning” meant.
After watching the above video, I revisited other resources on connected learning, such as this infographic and things made a lot more sense. For my I benefit I came up with the following definition of connected learning:
Learning opportunities are everywhere and people can learn anywhere. Digital enables this as it connects people with resources and communities.
I believe the challenge for students will be the same struggle I myself had with the concept of connected learning. Can they identify what connected learning is and how they can benefit from it? Do they have the skills to think critically about their learning experiences and apply what they learned in one arena to different contexts? I believe an important role that I can take is in helping to curate other possible learning experiences for students/colleagues but also to highlight that people are already having “connected learning” experiences, just in many cases, people don’t realise.
At the same time as helping colleagues with the concept of “connected learning” there is the need to challenge supervisors and managers within the organisation to accept learning experiences acquired outside of formal learning channels.
For me, connected learning requires digital literacy. Bawden (2008), helped me to come to an understanding of “digital literacy”. My own definition would be:
Where a person actively knows the norms and conventions of a platform (i.e. Could tell you what they are), can use the advanced features of a platform to interrogate the data available, and can think critically about the information they find.
This differentiates from what I see a lot in my own organisation that I think of as “passive digital literacy”, where a person understands how to use a particular platform to get information but could not explain to you how they would use the platform.
I can see the requirement for metacognition about a digital platform as being vital to students getting the most from connected learning and so I have started to consider how I can help students/colleagues develop this deeper form of digital literacy (and whether I have this type of digital literacy on the platforms I use).
Using these articles as a springboard, and your readings and interaction with the subject to date, develop a statement about your current knowledge and understanding of game-based learning. You may wish to recount an instance of your own learning through game (whether the game was designed for learning or not) and reflect on what you learned. What is the context of your ongoing learning through games? What are your personal aims in this subject? What challenges are you hoping to meet for yourself?
My knowledge and understanding of implementing game-based learning is limited but developing rapidly thanks to this course. Game-based learning is going to become an increasingly important to promote the skills required in the jobs of the future (such as collaboration and digital literacy). Game factors can be a great motivator but they must meet instructional design goals.
My personal experience with game-based learning is more varied. In school I played a number of rudimentary “progression” games. The most memorable being a game where you discovered the wreck of the Mary Rose, a sunken Tudor warship. The goals for the game (of me learning Tudor history) were brushed aside as I quickly endeavoured to finish the tasks as quickly as possible. That desire to “win” was my experience with most games and reflecting back, there were lots of teachable moments that were missed because the explicit links were not made between what I learnt in the game and how it could be applied to other parts of my life (a critical step as discussed by Spector et al (2010)). My time with edu-games were not accompanied by teachers prompting discussion on the topics the game raised.
My entertainment gaming experience was mostly around strategy games such as Sim City and Theme Park and again, reflecting back, I learnt a great deal from those games about logistics, budgets and contingency planning. My early game-based learning was mostly as an individual and it was not until much later that I began to appreciate the learning potential from playing games with others. Halo was my first experience with cooperative play and it was exhilarating to be exchanging ideas an strategies and quickly evolving tactics and techniques to be able to complete the game.
Reflecting on my own experience and the lessons of this course I believe the game-based learning can be a very important tool. A number of the readings have raised that some scholars, teachers and parents are concerned that there is not enough evidence to support the use of video games as a valid learning tool. In order to appropriately respond to these questions on effectiveness, it is vital to look to the instructional design model. If the teacher can clearly articulate the learning goals and the skills they are looking for the student to develop, then it should be much easier to convey why the game choice will help develop those skills. The reasons for game choice will then form an important role in helping the students to make explicit links between the skills and knowledge learnt in the game and how they can be translated in to other parts of the students life.
I found this YouTube video to be a good description of Instructional Design
My readings so far have raised some important cautionary lessons to be considered if you are using game-based learning as a tool:
Ensuring that students have sufficient digital literacy in order to use the game for the desired learning outcomes.
Receiving feedback from students and iterating on your approach is important to ensure that you can harness the “tremendous potential” of game-based learning and not fall in to traps such as an over focus on the game factors of winning and losing. (Media Literacy : New Agendas in Communication, edited by Kathleen Tyner, Taylor & Francis Group, 2009. ProQuest Ebook Central)
My personal aims for this subject are to be able to:
understand and convey to others why game-based learning is important;
learn the principles of good game-based learning so that I can create or adapt games for my work environment.
challenge myself to think creatively about how different games can be utilised to convey the learning goals of a subject.
I work in the public service but come from a background of web design. These two jobs are often diametrically opposed in their approach to technology.
The public service (at least in my department) has a very limited number of options to create digital learning and does not invest in helping people to learn how to use these tools in a creative way.
They do have a large amount of people with subject matter expertise but without instruction on how to convey this information it often means that when they are teaching others it is in the form of dense PowerPoint and the amount of information retained by the students is minimal.
This approach is very different to my last job where it didn’t matter what learning tool you were using, as long as it was free and it got results. When thinking about the “ten skills for the future workforce”, it is very easy to understand why people with these skills would not want to come in to the public service as our learning culture does not nurture those skills.
What are your personal aims in this subject?
My aims for this subject are to acquire an understanding of the principles of digital learning. Partly so that I can make digital learning packages that help people to learn and engage with the topic but also so I have the skills to explain to my bosses what good digital learning can be and how we can improve what we currently do.
What challenges are your hoping to meet for yourself?
I hope to have a “Beautiful Mind” moment! Credit: Giphy
I am hoping to challenge myself to get back in to an academic state of mind and become more comfortable with less certainty. I have not done any academic learning for a number of years and have become very comfortable with the certainties of work.
I am hoping to push my boundaries and make myself feel like I do not understand what is going on and then (hopefully) have the ah-ha moment!
Referencing correctly is going to be another big challenge 😉