Designing Game-Based Learning Activities in Virtual Worlds: Experiences from Undergraduate Medicine

Designing Game-Based Learning Activities in Virtual Worlds: Experiences from Undergraduate Medicine

Maria Toro-Troconis (Imperial College London, UK) and Martyn R. Partridge (Imperial College London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-713-8.ch016
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In view of the current interest taking place in the area of education and virtual worlds, such as Second Life®, many educationalists have began to explore the benefits of applying game-based learning in these environments. In this chapter, the authors attempt to explore the elements associated with game-based learning in virtual worlds, focusing on the design process and how effective game-based learning activities can be achieved following pedagogic frameworks. The authors view learning in games as a form of driving learners’ motivations and this is reflected in the design and development of the virtual respiratory ward at Imperial College virtual hospital explained in this chapter.
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Computer games have been developed and embedded in academic settings since the first arrival of computers in the classroom. As Veugen and de Lange (2007) pointed out, one of the key factors for using computer games in education is the power to motivate. The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) highlighted the following statement:

“A striking feature of games software is its power to motivate. Motivation or the will to continue the use of the software is the end product of a mixture of psychological effects” (BECTA, 2001, pp.2).

Malone (1981) and Malone and Lepper (1987) identified four features that motivate persistence and enjoyment of games: challenge, control, curiosity and fantasy. At the same time, Flow Theory has become very significant in explaining the feelings of enjoyment including playing computer games (Sherry, 2004). According to this theory, arousal will increase as a task becomes more challenging but performance and enjoyment will depend on the level of skills. Flow is achieved when a gamer reaches an optimal match between his/her skills and the challenges presented by the game (Boyle and Connolly, 2008). Video game designers create these emotions by balancing a number of game components, such as character traits, game rewards, obstacles, game narrative, competition and opportunities for collaboration (Squire, 2003).

The theories described above contribute to our understanding of player enjoyment in computer games. However, games that over-emphasize educational requirements in some cases undermine the potential of play, game and story for creating memorable experiences (Hirumi and Stapleton, 2008). Therefore, the right balance between educational requirements and motivational factors should be achieved in order to ensure an enjoyable and effective game-based learning experience.

Learners, usually in their 20s, are native speakers of the digital language of computer, video games, DVD players, mobile phones, iPods and the internet (Holloway, 2003). According to Prensky (2001), they are “digital natives”. The “gamer generation” has a cognitive style characterised by multi-tasking while learning, short attention span during learning, and an exploratory and discovery approach to learning (Asakawa & Gilbert, 2003; Bain & Newton, 2003; Prensky, 2005).

Virtual worlds present rich interactive 3D collaborative spaces in which users can meet and interact (Livingstone, 2007). These virtual worlds can be used by many different users at the same time and for a range of different applications, including cultural, business, tourism and education (De Freitas, 2008). According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and De Freitas (2008), virtual worlds have the following characteristics:

  • “Learner control: learners control and interact through the creation of a virtual representation of themselves, called “avatars”” (De Freitas, 2008, pp. 8).

  • “Collaboration: emphasis upon collaboration and community building”. (De Freitas, 2008, pp. 8).

  • “Persistence: persistence of the world leads to the capacity for immediacy and synchronous use of the world” (De Freitas, 2008, pp.8).

  • “Inclusion of shareable and user generated digital content.” (De Freitas, 2008, pp. 8).

  • “Immersion and interactivity: the user feels immersed in the environment and fully engaged with the activities being undertaken.” (De Freitas, 2008, pp.8).

As De Freitas pointed out, it is worth noting that

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Dan O’Brien, Kimberly A. Lawless, P. G. Schrader
Digital games are a relatively new tool for educators, who often misunderstand their value for education. This is partly since they perceive many... Sample PDF
A Taxonomy of Educational Games
Chapter 2
Collin B. Price, Miss J.S. Moore
Computer game technology is poised to make a significant impact on the way our youngsters will learn. Our youngsters are ‘Digital Natives’, immersed... Sample PDF
The Design and Development of Educational Immersive Environments: From Theory to Classroom Deployment
Chapter 3
Danielle S. McNamara, G. Tanner Jackson, Art Graesser
Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) have been producing consistent learning gains for decades. The authors describe here a conceptual framework that... Sample PDF
Intelligent Tutoring and Games (ITaG)
Chapter 4
Ayotola Aremu
Teachers are a critical factor in the educational system; they are vital to the success or otherwise of any innovation (such as computer games) in... Sample PDF
Using ‘TRIRACE©' in the Classroom –: Perception on Modes and Effectiveness
Chapter 5
David Gibson
What is “one wikipedia’s” worth of time and effort outside of school? About 100 million hours of free labor, which illustrates one of the features... Sample PDF
Bridging Informal and Formal Learning: Experiences with Participatory Media
Chapter 6
Elisabeth Katzlinger
This chapter deals with a training curriculum for kindergarten teachers to introduce a learning game for technology-enhanced language learning in... Sample PDF
Technology Enhanced Language Learning in Early Childhood: Competencies for Early Childhood Teachers
Chapter 7
Kevin Kee, Tamara Vaughan, Shawn Graham
As gaming technology for personal computers has advanced over the last two decades, the text-adventures that predominated in the 1980s ceased to be... Sample PDF
The Haunted School on Horror Hill: A Case Study of Interactive Fiction in an Elementary Classroom
Chapter 8
Hoe Kyeung Kim
The purpose of this study is to examine how the use of multiplayer English teaching online games influences students’ self-efficacy and their... Sample PDF
Use of Interactive Online Games in Teaching English as a Foreign Language
Chapter 9
Louise Sauvé
Digital games are increasingly being seen as effective learning resources. This is especially true because of how society is being transformed by... Sample PDF
Using an Educational Online Game to Stimulate Learning
Chapter 10
Hélder Fanha Martins
With a new degree on Management, a new course called Management Simulation Project was created and started in the summer semester of 2006-2007 at... Sample PDF
The Experience of an Online Management Simulation Game to Foster Collaboration and Teamwork
Chapter 11
Adam Friedman, Richard Hartshorne, Phillip VanFossen
This chapter reports the results of a survey study of the civic engagement and participation of guild members in the massively multi-player online... Sample PDF
Exploring Guild Participation in MMORPGs and Civic Leadership
Chapter 12
Regina Kaplan-Rakowski, Christian Sebastian
Creating new resources in computer games and virtual worlds by modification – also known as modding and rezzing, respectively – is a popular pastime... Sample PDF
Modding and Rezzing in Games and Virtual Environments for Education
Chapter 13
Brian Bauer
This chapter centers on a publically traded Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical company based in the United States. With over 100,000 employees spread across... Sample PDF
Considerations and Methodology for Designing a Virtual World: Solution for a Large Corporation
Chapter 14
Brian Ferry, Lisa Kervin, Lisa Carrington
This chapter presents one approach to educator development through games and simulations. The goal of the authors’ project was to enhance... Sample PDF
ClassSim: An Approach to Educator Development Through a Simulation
Chapter 15
Chaka Chaka
This chapter explores how virtual gaming (VGaming) serves as an ideal platform for harnessing multi-skills and multi-literacies. It argues that... Sample PDF
Virtual Gaming A Platform for Multi-Skills and Multi-Literacies for Gamers
Chapter 16
Maria Toro-Troconis, Martyn R. Partridge
In view of the current interest taking place in the area of education and virtual worlds, such as Second Life®, many educationalists have began to... Sample PDF
Designing Game-Based Learning Activities in Virtual Worlds: Experiences from Undergraduate Medicine
Chapter 17
Youngkyun Baek
The scope of learning with games is determined by their genre, characteristics and scenarios, or content. Therefore, the frame of a game containing... Sample PDF
Principles of Educational Digital Game Structure for Classroom Settings
About the Contributors