Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Designing Educational Games and Simulations for Humanities: Case Study of Czechoslovakia 38-89 #ECIL2016

More liveblogging from the European Conference on Information Literacy 2016, in Prague. Invited speaker Vít Šisler talked about Designing Educational Games and Simulations for Humanities: Case Study of Czechoslovakia 38-89. He started by talking about his early love of games that allowed you to create your own world. Simulations and games have been used for a long time and are still used in the military, health etc.
An early example of a humanities simulation is a historical game which could be seen as a simulation. One thing that emerged from use of this was that it is likely to be better to use games specifically designed for education, rather than commercial games. The speaker was then involved in developing a simulation about international relations, which enables students to implement neew policies and see what the result is. To be successful the learner has to negotiate, critically evaluate the results of decisions. This was aimed at high schools, and is used in over 300 high schools in the Czech Republic.
The speaker went on to talk about the research process he and his colleagues used to evaluate the impact of a simulation game (involving a number of tests e.g. pre and post tests). The results indicated that it was the longer term retention of knowledge/understanding that was most benfitted by use of serious games. I think this is the research paper about it
He went on to talk about a specific serious game Czechoslovakia 38–89: The Assassination. There is information on it here and here They used real testimony and evidence from the time, but are very aware of being sensitive to the people and situation, with their being emotional and ethical issues. Therefore whilst thyey used the real testimony, it was with fictitious characters, constructing testimonies which students can interact with critically. The game designers were not interested in enabling people to replay history. You are in the position of being a kind of detective finding out what happened to your grandpa, but examining testimonies which may be contradictory or complementary, and you have to work out what you feel has actually happened and understand the situation better. This means, as with real history, there is not a straightforward story, it is complex with different viewpoints. The game includes testimonies from people who were not part of mainstream culture such as a Roma girl.
They have undertaken an evaluation in successive semesters in various high school classes. The game is available for free use in education. The trailer is below.

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