Design of a Socioconstructivist Game for the Classroom: Theoretical and Empirical Considerations

Design of a Socioconstructivist Game for the Classroom: Theoretical and Empirical Considerations

Margot Kaszap (Laval University, Canada) and Sylvie Rail (University of Ottawa, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-731-2.ch011
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Abstract

The overall goal of our research was to create a Web-based health education game that was compatible with new school requirements in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick, Canada, covering the development of competencies including problem solving and critical thinking, while using a learning approach involving the collective construction of knowledge. This chapter introduces the theoretical and empirical studies which led us to choose the game framework and question types to achieve the desired learning objectives.
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The Project: Context And Questions

This project builds on several studies, game implementations, and development projects (five generic shells for multimedia educational games on the Internet in the Carrefour virtuel des jeux éducatifs/ Educational Games Central website (http://ecg.savie.ca) that were developed by the research team at SAVIE (Société d’apprentissage à vie), a partner in the Canadian SAGE for Learning research network. One of SAVIE’s aims is to provide teachers at all levels, in-house trainers, and community or non-profit organization workers with tools to develop educational games on the Internet and to use them with their students or clients by means of generic computer-based frame games. Some examples of frame games that have been programmed for online use are Snakes and Ladders, Tic-Tac-Toe, Trivia, and Mother Goose. A generic shell is a frame game which has had its original content removed and for which only the structure remains. Game authors can use the shell to build a new game by adding their own content. For example, a teacher who wishes to make a history game could input his own questions on the historic period that he wants to cover with his students. For this research, a new game shell was to be created to allow the construction of games in a new format. The specific game to be created was an educational game covering some aspect of health for young people between 10 and 12 years old.

Decisions related to the conception of the game shell and game were influenced by several constraints. The mandate was to build a game shell that met the strict definition of “game” as opposed to “simulation game” (see Chapter 1). The frame game had to allow the use of a socioconstructivist approach. We had to take into account the technological and ergonomic constraints found in schools. There was a limited budget. The game shell had to remain independent of any educational content and be reusable for various clientele. Finally, the learning environment had to allow for learning new content rather than serving only for testing student knowledge levels (Rail, 2005).

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