Game-Like Technology Innovation Education

Game-Like Technology Innovation Education

Rikke Magnussen
DOI: 10.4018/jvple.2011040103
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This paper examines the methodological challenges and perspectives of designing game-like scenarios for the implementation of innovation processes in school science education. This paper presents a design-based research study of a game-like innovation scenario designed for technology education for Danish public school students aged 13-15. Students play the role of company heads that develop intelligent music technology. This game-like learning environment was designed to develop innovation competencies through the simulation of a practical learning situation. The term “game-like” is used to denote that the scenario should not be considered an educational game, such as the educational computer games used in many schools today. The focus of the design is to include practices and tools from innovative professions and use game principles and elements to create a meaningful frame around the creative and innovative practices.
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One key-adage of our time is that Western countries will only survive based on their populations’ abilities to be innovative, flexible and creative in a world of global warming and foreign industries that exploit cheap labour (Drucker, 1993). To meet these challenges, the primary task of educators has been defined as preparing learners to participate creatively in the knowledge economies that most Western countries have become (OECD, 2000). In spite of this being one of the main educational challenges of the 21st century, schools still teach students that knowledge is static, and as a result, students are being taught to become experts at consuming knowledge rather than producing new knowledge (Sawyer, 2006).

Past science and technology studies of actors in the field have led to a discussion of what is meant by “authentic science” in school education (McGinn & Roth, 1999). Rather than the traditional picture of the scientist as the isolated genius endowed with superior mental abilities, scientific knowledge in the field of science and technology studies is seen as emerging from disciplined ways of organising and making sense of the natural world, as well as being a construction of visual representations (Latour, 1999; Lynch & Woolgar, 1990; Latour & Woolgar, 1986). Visual representations such as graphs, x-ray images, maps, models, diagrams and hybrids of these are central in creating and communicating science and it has been argued that this view of scientific practice should have implications for how science is taught (diSessa, 2000; McGinn & Roth, 1999).

Games that simulate scientific practice have been mentioned as an approach for implementing innovation in school education (Shaffer, 2007). The game media is well suited for simulating complex rule systems and real-life settings. Game scenarios offer a medium equipped for complex simulations integrating many different aspects of real-life learning environments and framing them in a simulation a player can identify with and relate to. Access to a wide range of professional tools and representations supports authenticity and allows for players to tackle complex problems from professional contexts (Magnussen, 2008). Though the potentials of game media in technology innovation education are clear, how innovative practices in game-based environments occur has yet to be fully understood.

In this paper, the design of a game-like technology innovation scenario is presented. The scenario was developed as part of a design-based research study of how to implement innovative learning environments into cross-disciplinary science education in schools. I present the design, preliminary results and the methodological discussions that arise from the first application of the design.

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