Case Study 4: Using Game-Based Learning for Induction

Case Study 4: Using Game-Based Learning for Induction

Osman Javaid
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 3
DOI: 10.4018/IJGBL.2017070111
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This case study tracks the development of a digital induction resource implementing game elements that focuses on the first two stages of Gilly Salmon's Five Stage Model, namely ‘access and motivation' and ‘online socialisation' (Salmon, 2011). In the summer of 2016, a prototype was developed and presented at the Playful Learning conference, with a view to completing a full evaluation for the next cohort of the programme.
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The department of Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University are now in the third year of running a very successful online Master’s degree, with over 200 students studying on the programme every year, many of whom are part time and study around busy professional lives. Although the majority complete the course successfully, a common concern of tutors is that students often underestimate the time needed to successfully complete the course, which leads to difficulties down the line. There is evidence to support the claim that a clear induction strategy for online students increases retention and progression rates (Crosling, Heagney, & Thomas, 2009).

The user of the resource/game follows a fictional character through a typical day on the programme in question, charting their struggles to keep up with the demands of the programme and at the same time maintaining a social life. The nature of the game is to make decisions for the character around what activities you would like to carry out, whether that be to go out for a coffee with a friend, catch up on a TV show or attempt some academic work. Each decision takes up time, and if you get to the end of the day not having completing your required academic tasks, you lose. The user is penalised for not knowing where to find information on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which uses up more time, or getting to the end of the day not having completed any ‘fun’ activities for the character. The story that is followed was developed in conjunction with students and staff to create a compelling narrative which not only engages but is representative of common student concerns.

Why Gamify?

Gamification can be defined as using game elements and game design techniques for use in non-game contexts (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011). One of the main objectives of the gamified resource was to reduce the number of hours staff were committing to dealing with ‘administration’ type queries such as where certain documents were located or submission formats – information that was readily available in text format on the institutional VLE. By gamifying, an alternative delivery method of accessing this information was introduced which it is hoped will increase the take up of such information. The other major objective was to increase retention rates. Research suggests that a more robust induction process leads to improved academic progress (Knox, 2005). Through interacting with the resource, the goal is for students to explore the Learning Environment and become accustomed with the course structure, and so reducing instances of contacting staff for non-academic matters. It is also hoped that students will have a greater appreciation for the time commitment and workload involved by playing the role of a student on the course, making decisions on time management whilst encountering some of the most common obstacles students face.

Who Are the Users?

Based on Bartle’s classification of player types (Bartle, 2004), it is anticipated that users of this game will be presenting traits of the ‘explorer’ role (who tend to focus on exploring and discovery of the unknown) and ‘socialiser’ role (who tend to focus on socialising with friends and developing a network of contacts). By giving the user ‘free’ movement within the game and to control the direction the story takes, as well various points at which users are encouraged to share their reflections and experiences on the VLE forums, it is hoped both types are engaged, as well as helping form an online community.

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