Impressions from the GALA 2014 Conference

The 2014 edition of GALA conference was held last week from July, 2nd till 4th in the beautiful city of Bucharest. This edition was organized by Carol I National Defense University and the University of Genoa with the active sponsorship of the GALA European Network of Excellent and the Serious Games Society. Besides being a very joyful event from the cultural point of view since we enjoyed of the Rumanian hospitality and very well organized cultural and gastronomical tours. It was a good opportunity to meet different actors concerned with the design, implementation and deployment of games as active support to the learning processes in different contexts.

One of the most interesting contributions, from my personal point of view and considering its possible impact on the SG industry, was: “A Conceptual Model towards the Scaffolding of Learning Experience” by Sylvester Arnab, Pablo Moreno-Ger, Theo Lim, Petros Lameras, Maurice Hendrix, Kristian Kiili and Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge. It was presented during the Technological session on Thursday July 3rd by Sylvester Arnad on behalf of the authoring team.

The presentation introduced us to a conceptual model resulting of the research and development activities of a group of GALA partners. Such conceptual model is composed of an ecosystem and architecture, which supports the deployment of game-based learning and teaching experiences within formal settings.

The ecosystem, based on a participatory design approach, aims at supporting capturing and reasoning of large scale educational data for engaging sources and better understanding of learner’s knowledge, evaluate their progress and providing actionable feedback to all relevant stakeholders (learners, teachers, parents, school administrative personnel and state/regional educational bodies representatives).

Meanwhile the architecture provides the technical components to facilitate the achievement of the ecosystem goals, through the interaction and collaboration of the following three main technical infrastructures:

Learning analytics systems and models (implemented as the GLEANER framework [1] to track learners/players activities, analyse their in-game activities and provide some personalized feedback and actionable steps).

Mapping pedagogical patterns to game mechanics (to facilitate the reasoning of in-game interactions related to learning, implemented through the Learning-Game Mechanics mapping LM-GM framework [2]).

The User modelling and adaptive modeling components, the first one includes cognitive models, prior knowledge and learning preferences to describe learner characteristics, meanwhile the second one provides information about adapting contents, mechanics dynamics and aesthetics in order to facilitate the learner’s personalization of contents and interactions and to adapt the learning experience to his/her different abilities and preferences.

The availability of such conceptual framework represents a step forward in the provision of flexible and intelligent frameworks capable of optimizing the learning environment resources with wider applicability, better interoperability. It also facilitates a better understanding of the learners’ current knowledge, preferences and assessment of their learning, provision of personalization and support in the achievement of their learning goals. Moreover this type of framework helps to gather tangible evidences about game-based leaning processes’ effectiveness that can help on broader uptake of game-based innovative learning solutions.

All details about this presentation and other contributions to the 2014 GALA Conference can be found at http://www.galaconf.org

[1] Serrano-Laguna, Á., Marchiori E. J. et al. A framework to improve evaluation in educational games. In Proceedings of the IEEE Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), Marrakesh, Morocco, April, 2011

[2] Lim, T., Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Ritchie, J.M., Aylett, R.S., Stănescu, I.A., Roceanu, I., Martinez-Ortiz, I., Moreno-Ger, P. (2012) In Press. Strategies for Effective Digital Games Development and Implementation. Youngkyun Baek & Nicola Whitton, (Eds) Cases on Digital Game-Based Learning: Methods, Models, and Strategies, IGI Global, 168-198. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2848-9.ch010.

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