Gamification of education, where gameplay mechanics traditionally used in video games are used to engage students could be an essential ingredient of our teaching practice.

Speaking at the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) Learning and Teaching Practice Experts group in Birmingham today, Michael Callaghan, team leader of the Serious Games & Virtual Worlds research team at the Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC), School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, Faculty of Computing & Engineering, University of Ulster outlined how gameplay mechanics from successful video games can be re-used in an educational setting to engage and motivate students.

The popular video games “Call of Duty” and “The Sims” are billion dollar gaming franchise which tops most teenagers Christmas present list. They create compelling virtual experiences that immerse the player and engage a key demographic, the same demographic tertiary educators need to enthuse and excite about the possibilities of careers in Science, Computing, Engineering and Technology. We should explore using selected (non-violent) elements of modern games to try to recreate that level of student engagement in our teaching.

In this context the Circuit Warz project, created by the Serious Games & Virtual Worlds research team at the ISRC attempts to reimagine and reinvent the teaching of Electrical and Electronic circuit theory as a highly interactive video game. Circuit Warz pitches teams of students into a virtual games arena where they must work collaboratively to design and bias digital circuits against the clock in real time. The game has the look and feel of a AAA gaming experience but is solidly grounded in pedagogical theory, allowing students to apply circuit theory in a practical but unique and immersive way that would not be possible in the real world or in a traditional laboratory environment.

Dr Shane Wilson, a lecturer in the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems and a member of the Serious Games team said “Video games have entered the mainstream with casual puzzle based games such as Angry Birds being played by millions worldwide. Today the average gamer is more likely to be a female and in her forties than a teenager in their bedroom.  As educators we must acknowledge and embrace technological advances in areas such as gaming, and explore how these can be leveraged to engage and educate the modern student”.

Ms Kerri McCusker added “Immersive virtual worlds allow us to rapidly prototype and test new and innovative ways of engaging students, the addition of  game based mechanics to these platforms only highlight their flexibility”. More information on the JISC, Learning and Teaching Practice Experts Group Meeting is available on the JISC website here

Extracted from: http://sgvwtv.ulster.ac.uk/news/36-news/146-what-can-call-of-duty-teach-educators-about-student-engagement

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