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Learning Games #2

The second ‘Learning Games’ event took place on 17th January. To give everyone a chance to eat their lunch, the session started with a discussion around the tables about where we would like to use games in our teaching, and barriers we have (except for time – time is a problem for everyone!). Each group fed back and the key barriers were:

  • Resistance to change – some colleagues may not believe that learning with games can be as effective as more ‘traditional’ forms of learning.
  • Not knowing where to start – lack of experience in making/ designing games, what to make the games for, what tools to use, etc.
  • Having the resource/ capacity – this is quite similar to lack of time but is a key point – many staff would like to take time to create a game for their learners but there is not capacity in the team.

Dr Kieren Pitts, a senior developer in Research IT, presented a game he has been working on as part of a research grant with colleagues from physiological science. The game, EyeTrain, was developed to improve oculomotor control in children and consists of three ‘scenes’ (one urban, one woodland and a high contrast scene) in which the player has to tap when they see an animal move. The game encourages the player to move their eyes in repeated, specific movements with both smooth and saccade motion. The game begins with an animal that has quite obvious movement (e.g. a hare that moves its ears) and as you improve more animals are unlocked, each with more subtle movements, and the backgrounds (scenes) becoming more complex and detailed as the player improves. Illustrations were done by Bristol-based illustrator, Alex Lucas, whose work can be seen in the School of Education and on walls across the city.

eyetrain.jpg
Example image from ‘EyeTrain’.

Settings in the game are highly configurable and it has been programmed to collect vast amounts of data to ensure its effectiveness. Early testing has shown it to be effective in improving oculomotor control in children. More information about the game can be found here.

We then heard from two members of staff who have recently been awarded Discretionary Seedcorn Funds from BILT. Dr Frankie MacMillan from the School of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience explained the card game they are making for students studying Histology. Students must place down a card, with the next player putting down a card linked the image on the card before and explaining why. If a student can not go, they can use red blood cell ‘counters’ to buy an answer off another player. They hope that this game will make quite a ‘dry’ topic more interesting and memorable as the students have to create links between the types of cells and tissue themselves.

Next, we heard from Dr Isabel Murillo Cabeza from the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and her game, Microbial Pursuit. The plan for this game is for it to be played across two sessions and is to be used as both a learning and revision tool. The first session students are split into small groups and each write multiple choice questions with three options. The students can use their lecture notes, eBioLab materials, tutorials, essays and other academic material to help them write the questions. In the second session, students are reshuffled into different groups and use the questions to play a board game, similar to the layout of Trivial Pursuit. Students can play as individuals, in pairs or in threes.

The session concluded with a short game that was based around weather predictions (but I’m not sure where the weather link came in!). We all started with a coloured counter balanced on the back of our hands and the aim of the game was to be the last person with their counter on their hand, while at the same time attempting to knock off other peoples.

If you’d like to come along to play a silly game, hear about what others are doing with games and their teaching and discuss your ideas for gamifying learning, get in touch with Chrysanthi Tseloudi or Suzi Wells to find out when the next session is on.

Meet the BILT Student Fellows

Meet the Student Fellows… Johannes Schmiedecker

We asked our Student Fellows to write us a short blog about their background and what they are doing as part of their BILT role. The following blog is from Johannes Schmiedecker, who has been a BILT Student Fellow since December 2018.

Hi!

My name is Johannes Schmiedecker, I come from the beautiful country of Austria, where I studied law at the University of Vienna. In finished my degree in June 2018 and in September, I moved to Bristol and now study the LLM programme European Legal Studies here at the University of Bristol.

Studying European law in the UK in those times might not be everyone’s first choice but I find it interesting to see the Brexit debate from the British point of view. And, who knows, what will happen it the next months. Apart from studying I enjoy exploring the city, travel around in England and use the sports facilities at the University as well as engaging in different societies. The openness and friendliness of the Bristolians really surprised me in a positive way and I enjoy living here. I want to use this (probably) last year as a student for improving my language skills, get to know different people from around the world and learn as much as possible before I will start working.

I got appointed as a Student Fellow for Project 4, which is researching BILTs new theme. In this position, I will, among other things, do research about how we can improve learning and teaching by analysing the big amount of information that is collected. I find this a great opportunity to explore new digital technologies and how they might be useful in the academic environment. One thing that I would like to focus on is Big Data. The huge sums of information that are collected nowadays could be used effectively to improve the teaching and learning atmosphere. Doing research in this field is new to me, as I come from a legal background, but I am very excited in exploring new areas.