UPDATE: Date change to July 11th 2013
Pervasive Learning Activities (PLAs) are deeply embedded games-based approaches to learning which draw from key features of alternate reality games, and play on the idea of suspension of disbelief amongst participants: students become part of a developing scenario, learning skills and approaches in context, and gradually blur the line between the scenario and real life.
This approach has been used successfully to teach Enterprise in the Universities of Portsmouth and Leeds, and has potential for any other discipline.
As part of our ongoing research and practice in this area, Simon Brookes, Sarah Underwood and I are holding a workshop to outline the concept of PLAs, give participants experience of a real PLA, and then cover the skills needed to develop one in any discipline. It will be no surprise to hear that the day will be action-packed, fun and (we hope) rewarding.
The PLA Workshop is being arranged in conjunction with the Higher Education Academy, and will take place on Thursday 11th July at the University of Leicester.
Info / Sign up here
A paper in which I revisit the research I conducted into the most engaged players in the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) Perplex City has just been published in the International Journal of Games Based Learning (IJGBL), Vol. 2, Issue 3, pp32-50.
The paper takes a fuller look at the data I presented at ALT-C in 2008, and – drawing on more recent research into ARGs since – reaffirms the seven key features I feel can be transferred to higher education to improve engagement with learning:
- Problem solving at varying levels (graded challenge)
– enable students to pick their own starting level and work up from there
- Progress and rewards (leaderboard, grand prize)
– this could also be assessment
- Narrative devices (characters/plot/story)
– doesn’t have to be fictional: academic subjects have histories, themes, news etc.
- Influence on outcomes
– as researchers we don’t think that we are working towards a known answer or statement; and we would like our students to think in the same way: by letting them decide or influence some aspects of their course, this helps to scaffold their path into a critical academic thinker
- Regular delivery of new problems/events
– key to maintaining engagement. Thinking about ways to keep things moving without putting extra pressure on staff
- Potential for large, active community
…which is self-supporting/scaffolding – the potential is less the smaller the group and the narrower the subject interest/specialisation.
- Based on simple, existing technologies/media
– rather than high-end simulations or graphics
If you can’t access the journal article from your institution, you can get the gist of the paper from the 2008 conference paper in Publications, and I hope to be able to provide the new full paper here in due course.