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Supporting Active Learning Through Simulation Games Maria Fasli University of Essex Department of Computer Science

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Presentation on theme: "Supporting Active Learning Through Simulation Games Maria Fasli University of Essex Department of Computer Science"— Presentation transcript:

1 Supporting Active Learning Through Simulation Games Maria Fasli University of Essex Department of Computer Science

2 2HE-ICS Animation Workshop Outline Introduction Games Motivation & Context e-Game Example simulation game Benefits Conclusions

3 3HE-ICS Animation Workshop Introduction Engagement and motivation play fundamental roles in learning Setting goals, problems and challenges motivates students Learning by doing is more effective Putting into practice knowledge and skills helps students gain a deeper understanding and retain knowledge Motivated students learn better

4 4HE-ICS Animation Workshop Games I Fascinating Different types of games: action, adventure, fighting, sports, strategy, puzzles, simulations Key elements of games: Goals and objectives Competition/challenge/opposition Outcomes and feedback Interaction Storyline Rules

5 5HE-ICS Animation Workshop Games II Games have a number of characteristics that make them attractive from a pedagogical point of view: They immerse users into a world They are interactive, engaging and fun They encourage and promote active learning They motivate participation Provide instant feedback on the users actions Tedious and difficult tasks can be fun when they are part of a good story

6 6HE-ICS Animation Workshop Games III What can be taught through games? Facts, principles, cause and effect, complex problem solving Successfully integrating gaming principles and techniques into a learning environment could: Make learning itself for fun Provide a challenge for the students Help them learn more effectively In some knowledge domains simulation games may be the only way of simulating and practicing real world problems (e.g. military, aviation, medicine)

7 7HE-ICS Animation Workshop Simulation Games Educational simulations (as opposed to tutorials and drill- and-practice forms) excel in that they represent experience as opposed to information. Learning through direct experience has in many contexts, been demonstrated to be more effective and enjoyable than learning through information communicated facts. Direct, multi-sensory representations have the capacity to engage people intellectually as well as emotionally, to enhance the contextual aspects of information, and to encourage integrated, holistic responses. Laurel, B. Computers as Theatre (1991)

8 8HE-ICS Animation Workshop Motivation and Context I Agent Technology for E-commerce A graduate course in Computer Science whose aim is to teach principles of design and implementation of software agents that can be used in e-commerce applications Software agents in e-commerce: continuously running entities that can negotiate for goods and services on behalf of their users reflecting their preferences and negotiation strategies Core topics: negotiation protocols such as auctions and other bargaining protocols and strategic behaviour Problem: how to provide students with hands on experience of the problems that can arise in a dynamic environment such as a marketplace?

9 9HE-ICS Animation Workshop Motivation and Context II Experimenting in real marketplaces NOT possible Only realistic alternative: simulations Underlying idea: integrate concepts and techniques from gaming in a framework that would support active learning Enhance the students learning experience through: Interactive teaching of principles Hands on experience by putting principles into practice Providing instant online feedback on their coursework

10 10HE-ICS Animation Workshop electronic Generic Auction MarketplacE I e-Game: an auction platform that allows the development, running and administration of multiple-player simulation games

11 11HE-ICS Animation Workshop electronic Generic Auction MarketplacE II It allows users to: Create and experiment with different types of auctions and different strategies Design and implement software agents that are capable of participating in online auctions Design and implement electronic marketplaces Design and implement complicated software agents that can participate in electronic marketplaces

12 12HE-ICS Animation Workshop Use in Teaching & Learning e-Game can be used to: Teach principles of market institutions, negotiation protocols and strategies, agent design and implementation in a systematic way Design and implement new simulation games (simple and advanced) to suit particular learning outcomes Run competition tournaments in which the students have to participate Provide online feedback while an exercise is running as well as at the end with the final results

13 13HE-ICS Animation Workshop The Computer Market Game I Clients 1 Cases (C1, C2) Monitors (M) Motherboards (MB1, MB2, MB3) A B C D E F Agents AgentClientMB2MB3C2 C C C C C Continuous Single Seller M: 30 Mth Price MB1: 17 MB2: 8 MB3: 5 Mth Price C1: 20 C2: 10 CU i = Motherboard Bonus + Case Bonus AU = (CU 1 +CU 2 +CU 3 +CU 4 +CU 5 ) – Expenses – Penalties

14 14HE-ICS Animation Workshop The Computer Market Game II Auction Scheduling

15 15HE-ICS Animation Workshop The Computer Market Game III The CMG Applet showing game progression and acquired goods for each player e-GAME(1) e-GAME(2)

16 16HE-ICS Animation Workshop Benefits I The system was used in the Spring term of 2004 (23 students) and 2005 (21 students): Firstly in teaching, to demonstrate principles of auctions and students had to create their own simple auctions and participate in them applying different strategies Secondly in assessment, where they had to implement their own individual agent, perform experiments and also participate in an internally organized competition the outcome of which was connected to a percentage of their coursework (25%) In 2005 a version of the simulation game suitable for human users was built and used to run experiments in the classroom

17 17HE-ICS Animation Workshop Benefits II 90% of the students reported that the use of e-Game had actually helped them in better understanding topics such as negotiation protocols and strategic behaviour 90% reported that the form of the coursework had enabled them to put into practice principles taught 85% of the students considered the competition to be enjoyable and fun 90% of the students claimed that the use of the simulation game and platform had enhanced their learning experience and the same percentage reported that they believed they had achieved the modules learning objectives

18 18HE-ICS Animation Workshop Benefits III Student: Deeper learning experience Hands on practice on applying principles in a realistic scenario Immediate feedback on the students efforts and coursework Discover themselves the principles governing a situation Peer feedback Observation of ones efforts in comparison to others Students can progress at their own pace Comprehend cause and effect Competition: enthusiasm, incentive for more work, disincentive to plagiarism

19 19HE-ICS Animation Workshop Benefits IV Teacher: Savings in time and effort Better delivery of material The continuous interaction enables the teacher to identify difficulties with parts of the material and take action A repository of exercises can be built over time The material can be taught in a different form from year to year with minimum effort

20 20HE-ICS Animation Workshop Conclusions Introducing gaming principles and techniques in a learning environment can have significant pedagogic benefits as games: Provide a valuable and effective means to engage the students Help them learn more effectively Enable them to put into practice principles taught Allow them to learn at their own pace Allow the creation of communities of learners; students develop a sense of camaraderie and they can learn with and from each other But, game content needs to be well-engineered and targeted at clearly defined learning objectives

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