It has been something akin to the elephant in the corner of the room, the nearly six month gap since my last post that extolled all to “Watch this space!” for upcoming posts and discussions. Life it seems had its own agenda and failed to inform me of the fact. That said however, it’s time to start posting again.
I’ll begin innocuously with a few links to a historical development, The Literacy Project, that was completed in 2014 but has only recently had its final report released by the funding agency. This Final Report was submitted to Ako Aotearoa by the project educator Merle Hearns.
The following is the report abstract:
The Mythical World of Hīnātore is a new literacy game developed in the virtual world of Kitely. The game was funded jointly by the Northern Hub of Ako Aotearoa and Manukau Institute of Technology. The game is designed to fill literacy gaps for students who desire to follow a tertiary study pathway. Many tertiary students fail papers, even though the concepts they are taught are understood and retained, simply because they cannot adequately express what they know. This game is a small step towards addressing this issue. The game has been tested by students and staff at Manukau Institute of Technology’s School of English and Foundation Studies. Student feedback from the pilot test has shown that the game is motivating and engaging, and focusses students’ attention on aspects of sentence construction. Lecturers have acknowledged that the game is a useful literacy resource. The game is not restricted to class time and computer laboratories. Students can play the game in their own time, on home computers. If students are enjoying grammar and sentence construction, the result must be seen as positive. (Hearns, 2014)
This next link directs you to the slideshow I created as part of a presentation at the Ako Aotearoa Showcase Day in October 2015. In a collaborative effort with Merle, my part of the presentation looked at the pedagogical and design considerations given to the development of the game and discussed the effectiveness of their application. The slideshow gives a quick insight into the main aspects of the development, along with references to some of the research that supported the approach taken.
Some of the considerations that the research informed, and their practical applications in virtual world environments, will be discussed in my workshop, Virtual World Simulations: Designing Authentic and Effective Learning Experiences, that I will be holding at this year’s VWBPE Conference. This workshop is scheduled for Saturday, March 12, at 11:00 a.m. – 12:50 p.m. Pacific time (Sunday, March 13, 8.00 a.m. – 9.50 a.m. NZT) in Second Life. The following is the abstract for this workshop:
Simulations can provide an authenticity of learning that is not necessarily bound to their physical fidelity. In his research Aaron Griffiths investigates the elements essential to the creation of an authentic context for learning and explores how those elements might be effectively applied in virtual world simulations. This presentation demonstrates interactively the pedagogical and design rationale employed by the presenter in pursuit of this research and provides educators with insights into designing effective learning experiences.
As for the Literacy Project the game continues to be used by Merle in her Foundation Studies classes and has garnered interest throughout New Zealand and beyond. Presentations at the Manukau Institute of Technology Mana Rangahau Conference, the Whitireia and WelTec Research Symposium, the 2015 NAEEA Conference, and Ako Aotearoa showcases have been greeted with enthusiasm from the participating educators. If any readers would like to experience the game first-hand feel free to make contact and a tour could be arranged.
Hearns, M. (2014) Literacy Game in a Virtual World. Available from https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/download/ng/file/group-5/literacy-game-in-a-virtual-world—report.pdf [Accessed 18 February 2016].