Story-Game Design for Learning

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Keynote for the Third International Conference on ICT in Education - ticEDUCA2014, at the Institute of Education of the University of Lisbon, on 15 November 2014.

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Story-Game Design for Learning

  1. 1. Story-Game Design for Learning Nelson Zagalo, University of Minho http://nelsonzagalo.googlepages.com http://virtual-illusion.blogspot.com Institute of Education of the University of Lisbon 15 November 2014 Third International Conference on ICT in Education - ticEDUCA2014
  2. 2. …work done Authored and edited books on: Interactive Storytelling, Aesthetic Emotion, Virtual Worlds and Videogames. I’m now writing a new book specifically on: Interaction Design.
  3. 3. Great domain of Human–Computer Interaction, from a Communication Cognitive approach. In specific, Interaction Design, and in concrete, Engagement. What I do?
  4. 4. How does ‘Interaction Design’ relate to ‘Education’? Interaction Design is a specificity of the communication concerned with the design of the relation between machine and human. Education is the relation built within the transfer of knowledge and skills from generation to generation.
  5. 5. How to design better the communication in education, bringing into play knowledge from Interaction Design, more specifically from videogames. What will we talk about?
  6. 6. Like all other animals in the planet Earth, from an evolutionary perspective, we are made of very basic needs - Food, Sex, and Shelter. We believe, that what have made us follow different paths, in the past, was the need to Questioning. We were endowed with a sustained “epistemic curiosity” (Leslie 2014). . Who we are . What we are . Where we are . Why we are Evolutionarily, the questioning survived and became more and more relevant, because it was primordially responsible for the progress of our culture and technology. Our biology became designed to feed us pleasure, whenever we get answers. To do that, we need to understand our subjects,
  7. 7. How do we make sense of ourselves? We create stories (Bruner, 1990; Boyd, 2009; Gottschall, 2012). How do we make sense of the others? We empathize (Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2004; De Waal, 2009). How do we make sense of the world? We simulate (Gallese & Rizzolati, 1999; Kergen 2012). and, we need to understand our tasks.
  8. 8. To make sense of ourselves and the others We have Narrative. To simulate (decisions, choices, building, etc.) We have Games and Play. To learn We have Teachers. thus, what tools do we have…
  9. 9. The Narrative
  10. 10. What is a Narrative? Narrative is made of a story (chronological and causal set of events) which is represented trough a plot (specific organization of events) and specific medium (words, pictures, sounds, etc.).
  11. 11. What is a Story?
  12. 12. We build sense in our minds through narration, because we are unable to understand disconnected fragments of words, pictures or sounds. Our mind blends everything together in a whole, using narrative, creating sense and meaning. But stories are also intense empathizers machines - we mimic, we copy, we identify, we project, we identify – with story characters. We learn from them, what means to be other, creating awareness, building our own identities. The purpose of stories.
  13. 13. Stories are made of sequences of progressive and causal events, this means: for every event presented, a cause (an answer) must exist, and must always be given. You’ll then stay engaged until you get your answer (the climatic end). But why do we engage with stories?
  14. 14. You don’t get to act, to participate, in the sense you don’t need to take sides, to make choices. You sit and you cognitively interact, but you never decide anything, it’s not up to you to do it. That’s why videogames surpassed movies. And that’s why movies are struggling for alternatives to introduce participative accesses for the spectators. Does stories have problems?
  15. 15. The Game
  16. 16. What is a Game? “A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.” Salen & Zimmerman (2004)
  17. 17. Points Pointing Victory state Reward Feedback Progress Value Leaderboards Leadership Social Feedback Comparison Social Pressure Badges Achievement Visual representation Flexibility Social Status Credential Collection What are these “quantifiable outcomes”?
  18. 18. More or less like current school systems, no? Points Exams Tests Essays Leaderboards Class Grades School Grades District Grades Country Grades Badges Class Years: K1 - K12 Honor Boards 10/1 0 20/2 0 Gamification is so profound in our schools, that students will not work toward extra-curricular assignments, if it is not quantified by the school.
  19. 19. Dopamine For every outcome achieved, a drop of dopamine (the pleasure hormone) is released in our brain flow. How does this “quantification” works?
  20. 20. What are these “outcomes” good for? Engagement and Repetition We engage easily when there’s something to gain, when the outcome is quantifiable, when we get: the ANSWERS. Engagement make us Repeat, which is important to make us better in the process of mastery.
  21. 21. You get happy because you get feedback, the answers, but you are only following structured paths. …you don’t get the chance to question it, because of that, it becomes repetitive, and finally looses you... What is the problem with these systems?
  22. 22. They added progressive causal events. How videogame industry reacted to repetition? +NARRATIVE, complexer story layers and affective motives
  23. 23. VIDEO: “Assassin's Creed: Unity” (2014) Ubisoft
  24. 24. Added tools to create. How game industry reacted to lack of questioning? +PLAY, build your own games, build your own worlds
  25. 25. VIDEO: Toy Box Mode in “Disney Infinity 2.0” (2014)
  26. 26. The Play
  27. 27. "Play is free movement within a more rigid structure". (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004) Play is “contextual”; “free”; “spontaneous”; “unpredictable”; “enthusiastic”; “self-motivated”. (Lopes, 2004) Why Play is different from Game?
  28. 28. “The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the better their self-directed executive functioning [planning, organizing, strategizing, attention, etc.].” (Barker, et al., 2014) You defy rules, you go against status quo, you subvert conventions… this is also what happens when you create Art, that’s why we call it Creative Play. Play is nothing less than the highest creative human behavior. What happens when we Play?
  29. 29. Why do we engage with Play? The free and spontaneous action acts toward designing possible and achievable activities. You incrementally evolve your actions and goals, at your own specific rhythm. You create your own “scaffolds” (Bruner) you design your own “zone of proximal development” (Vigotsky). You feel advancing, progressing, step by step (like making stories in your mind), this pushes you to maintain your self-motivation active.
  30. 30. What’s the problem with Play? In the 21st century with computers, robots and automation the society we built throughout the 20th century is changing. More than ever repetitive work (manual or cognitive), the one that can be traced through patterns and routines can be easily done by computers/robots. We need to adapt, and look for areas were machines have difficulties, Brynjolfsson and McAfee (2014) purposed three areas: :: “ideation” (have ideas), :: “creativity” (do differently) :: “innovate” (create new) Society knows that, politicians know that, and because of that a witch-hunt started. Erase fact knowing, forget knowledge and put all emphasis on Logic, Critical Thinking, Techniques to Reasoning all in the name of building the New. The problem: You cannot learn to think differently, we are learning today was we had learnt in the past 50 thousand years, our brains didn’t change. Means we are unable to create in the void. To play creatively - have ideas, do different, create new - you need to know and understand very well the old.
  31. 31. The Teacher
  32. 32. Ethnographic studies have questioned the idea of genetic talent, Colvin (2008) and Coyle (2009) showed how throughout the world talent is mastered, and it comes essentially to three vectors: Repetition, Motivation and Coaching. If you want to be a good piano player, a marathon runner, or live from writing, there are no shortcuts, you need to REPEAT over and over (Ericksson, 1993), but to be able to keep repeating, you need MOTIVATION, which can only be built with the support of a COACHER (our Teacher). The teacher is someone who knows what to look for in the repeating process, knows errors and successes from the past, guides the learner, makes him feel anew everyday, giving feedback about progress, showing the evolution, the step by step, and it is from here that motivation is built. What is the purpose of a teacher?
  33. 33. How then can we design better engagement in education?
  34. 34. What we know, and how it works? Time Game Engagement Time Narrative Engagement Climax (final answer)Mastery of task Narrative gives us the ability to understand; Games the ability to repeat; and Play the ability to create. Also, teachers bring old knowledge, show the path and sustain motivation.
  35. 35. Our proposal Duration of the bloc of knowledge Knowledge Engagement Climax (final answer) Play Games Story Have the teacher bringing together the best from - Story, Game and Play - in the design of blocs of knowledge. Use Narrative to create the backdrop for knowledge, launch a big question of the bloc, and leave it in the air, to be answered at the end. Build short Games, throughout the description of knowledge, in order to develop repetition and attain mastery of each bit of knowledge. Finally use the last part, after the climax, to open a contextual Play space, permitting free construction of ideas.
  36. 36. . Continue the discussion around Creative Play, and its need to be fueled by old knowledge… . Open the discussion around Gamification taking into account videogames, not games… . Use the Gamification momentum to Rethink the way we quantify school outcomes, Rethink the relevance of outcomes for politicians against our children… …next steps
  37. 37. Story-Game Design for Learning Nelson Zagalo, Universidade do Minho http://nelsonzagalo.googlepages.com http://virtual-illusion.blogspot.com nzagalo@ics.uminho.pt

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