Commercium and Cognitionis Project: A Gamification Experience in an Undergraduate Course

Commercium and Cognitionis Project: A Gamification Experience in an Undergraduate Course

Alexandre Farbiarz, Jackeline L. Farbiarz, Guilherme Xavier, Cynthia M. Dias, Lucas L. A. Bastos, Eloisa F. F. S. Gonçalves
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-4287-6.ch020
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This chapter presents the Commercium & Cognitionis project, which aligns technology and playfulness, implementing DICTs and gamification as pedagogical tools that value didactic content and engagement, combining competition and collaboration in the search for knowledge to solve the proposed challenges. The proposal is aligned with the insertion of urban youth into a highly imagetic and technological contemporary culture. Adopting active pedagogical methods that exploit skills and abilities in the game allows the combination of systemic and procedural evaluation in the discipline and the evaluation of knowledge construction. To reach the play goal, it was necessary for the student-player to pursue the didactic objectives, as the evaluation of the experience indicates that dedication to the game positively influenced the academic dedication, also stimulating access and meaningful learning on the programmatic contents and guaranteeing autonomy and independence in the educational process.
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In their first year, students of the Fluminense Federal University (UFF) Journalism undergraduate course, in Brazil, have a mandatory 60-h Visual and Graphic Languages discipline. The authors decided to develop strategies and solutions to the problems identified in the discipline focusing on imparting initial knowledge about basic elements of graphic-visual systems.

The authors started from the UFF Journalism course curriculum, established with a vision that “In recent years, Communication studies have evolved towards understanding the language and theory of media not only as a field of action, but as a place of knowledge” (Universidade Federal Fluminense, 2016, p. 2). It indicates that subjects in the graphic area with an emphasis on Editorial Design, among the seven different areas of emphasis that students have at their disposal, were the core influence on the creation of the Graduate Program in Media and Everyday Life, back in 2013.

Given the clear insertion of urban youth in a contemporary culture that is highly imagetic and technological (Kellner, 2001), the authors' premise seeks to combine technology and teaching practice playfully, developing tools that value didactic content and interaction, helping and stimulating learning. So, the first pedagogical strategy adopted was the insertion of Digital Information and Communication Technologies (DICTs) through smartphones as an interactive tool of a pedagogical nature. The second was the use of gamification as the mainstay of the discipline’s pedagogical project. It is important to remark that gamification is the use of game elements in other situations than amusement ones, with a focus on developing the motivation and engagement of participants (Deterding et al., 2011). At the same time, the use of games and playful practices as pedagogical resources can be a way to train people who are both intimate and critical of DICTs (Gee, 2007). This approach can relate to both ways games have content: as a story designed by someone else or the record of its player’s decisions, actions, and feedback (Gee, 2015).

Thus, the research that supports this project confirms that the accelerated flow of information (Lipovetsky, 2004) from the media culture (Kellner, 2001) offers information quickly and superficially to young people, sometimes without critical training to deal with them. That is a complex phenomenon and, in this sense, the combination of digital technologies, gamification, and Critical Pedagogy (Giroux, 2016) presents the possibility of rehearsing new forms of interaction between students, educators, and content, promoting the expression of creativity and critical thinking through the use of media. Even immersed in this context of extremes, educators can seek its most favorable face, flee from the mercantile logic and value the processes of interaction between subjects, avoiding the exacerbated individualism characteristic of hypermodernity (Lipovetsky, 2004).

The Commercium & Cognitionis project (CetC) seeks to associate technology and teaching practice playfully, developing tools that value didactic content and interaction and help meaningful learning through cooperation. The project, in addition to its application as a discipline, develops experimental field research that investigates how young university students enhance and develop skills necessary for their trajectory in the university environment and everyday life outside the campus, starting from the perspective of the constructing and sustaining discourse in the media as a central element in these processes.

Gamification was a chosen strategy for the CetC project because of its configurative approach to game elements, applied in non-game situations (Deterding et al., 2011; Rivera & Garden, 2020). Zichermann and Cunningham (2011) regard gamification as the use of mechanics, style, and thinking involved in game design techniques to promote the engagement of participants in the solution of a problem, also clarifying that gamifying a process or system will not generate a game per se, despite the use of game elements.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gender of Discourse: Relatively stable forms of discourse, linked to specific spheres of human communication and social action, realized through multimodal means of meaning production.

Critical Media Literacy: Subjects formation to media products critically reading, promoting critical and transformative social awareness.

Digital Information and Communication Technologies: Digital media, that is, technologies based in binary code that allow exchange of information and communication among people.

Multimodality: A property of messages and media, which states that meaning is always produced via multiple modes of communication and their combinations (written, oral, visual, procedural, gestural, sound).

Gamification: The application of game elements, as systems of engagement, and game design principles to contexts other than games, especially education, marketing, and work environments.

Mechanics: In games, the ways of “functioning”, that is, the different ways in which objects relate to each other, and which generates dynamics through players’ interactions.

Suspension of Everyday Life: Elevation of the individual from his alienating routine to a moment of critical distance through art or science.

Embedded Narrative: The narrative developed by game designers, and embedded in the game, in the form of character descriptions, speech and dialogue, texts, music, visual representations, and even mechanics can compose the embedded narrative.

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