Why videogames?

  Applying games in general (not only videogames) to education is not a new idea. Playing is an inherent trait of human beings which is closely tied to the learning process. The basic claim for supporting the introduction of games into learning processes is that games, unlike more traditional educational situations, are fun to play. Playful activities in a classroom (like role-playing events of history in class) can be a very appealing and effective way of learning, although it is not cost-effective and it is very unlikely that a system involving such a high ratio of instructors/learners may ever be implemented. However, technologies bring up new possibilities for gaming environments with computer and video games.

  Videogames allow the immersion of the student in richly recreated environments with a relatively low cost per student. Also, videogames support many educational approaches such as collaborating and/or competing within the game or, alternatively, simulating artificial peers in order to achieve similar results to collective playing in a cost-effective way. In any case, the experiences from in-game activities can then be shared with real peers and monitored by instructors to compensate for the lack of direct human intervention. Additionally, videogames as a medium offer a lot of possibilities beyond the limits of traditional content. Almost by definition, games are interactive and immersive, enabling constructivist and embodied approaches to learning. Besides, they are an optimal environment to deliver content in an adaptive fashion. In short:

  • Videogames are fun
  • Videogames are immersive
  • Videogames stimulate cooperation/competition
  • Videogames promote the creation of communities of practice
  • Videogames can support adaptive learning
  • Videogames provide innovative assessment mechanisms

  The academic acceptance of Game-based learning is growing very fast. In fact, in the last few years the academic discussion about whether they are a valid educational medium is no longer being disputed. The current discussion points focus on aspects such as cost-effectiveness and whether they can really be integrated in a school-based learning process. If we want to increase the penetration of games in our educational process, we need to address those issues.

About eAdventure

   The eAdventure platform is a research project aiming to facilitate the integration of educational games and game-like simulations in educational processes in general and Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) in particular. From an academic perspective, it is a multi-disciplinary approach to a broad problem, involving expertise from the fields of Software Engineering, formal languages, pedagogy and web technologies. Starting with an analysis of the issues that are hindering the deployment of game-based learning initiatives in real educational scenarios, we decided to focus our research in three specific areas:

  • Reduction of the development costs for educational games
  • Incorporation of education-specific features in game development tools
  • Integration of the resulting games with existing courseware in Virtual Learning Environments

Development process model:
  The development costs for educational videogames should be in the same orders of magnitude as alternative forms of learning content in order to fit educational budgets. Additionally, if we want videogames with high educational value, we must allow teachers and domain experts to actively participate in the development process. To cover this first objective, we proposed a documental (or language-driven) approach to the creation of educational games with groups of developers, instructors and artists working together. It is very scalable process that draws from spiral models such as Rational's Unified Process Model. Even though the eAdventure development process model is more sophisticated than usual approaches combining a game engine and an editor or scripting language, the tools that support this model can be used in this fashion. With the eAdventure game engine and the eAdventure graphical editor instructors (or even students!) can create educational adventure games without any background in programming.

Game Editor

Game Engine

Educational value:
  The eAdventure engine includes a built-in assessment mechanism that can be used to automatically grade the student or to generate human-readable reports to be processed by instructors with assessment purposes. Additionally, the engine supports real-time modification of the behaviour of the game in order to provide adaptive learning experiences. The games are encapsulated as Learning Object with standardized metadata that allows their storage and discovery in standards-based repositories of learning content.

Student Activity’s Report

Integration with online education:

  The editor allows us to export created games as standards-compliant learning objects (LO). A Learning Object is a standard way of packaging content, with embedded metadata to store and discover them in content repositories.

eAdventure games can be exported according to different Learning Object Profiles:

  • IMS Content Packaging
  • SCORM v1.2
  • SCORM 2004
  • WebCT 4 Course Packages (a variation of IMS CP followed by the current platform at Complutense University).
  • AGREGA (adapted for integration in the AGREGA content repository).