Project Description

Background
Objectives
The game
The methodology

Background

Research into the processes and pedagogies underlying learning and training is constantly addressing new challenges. One such challenge faced by the e-VITA project is the requirement that learning has to become more meaningful in order to be assimilated more quickly and re-utilised in real world contexts. Innovative concepts and pedagogical models for effective knowledge transfer and the safeguarding of experience-based knowledge are essential in order to strengthen the knowledge society of a Europe that is facing significant demographic changes. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play a crucial role in these addressing these issues.

Over the last 20 years, the European society has invested much into developing an ICT infrastructure and promoting its use. A large number of programs and projects at different levels have led to a substantial increase in the utilisation of ICT in a wide range of applications. According to EUROSTAT, at the end of 2007, 54% of European households were connected to the Internet, representing 43.4% of the total population (in comparison to a world average of 20%). This figure is set to continue to increase, and to further promote Internet use, plenty of innovative approaches exist on both National and European levels. However, the increased use of ICT bears new challenges for the society of the 21st century, particularly with regards to issues such as learning and knowledge management. The e-VITA project tackles several key research themes centred on this area, including:

  • Approaches to building 21st century skills. The pervasiveness of ICT has changed the way people live, work and learn. This trend puts tremendous stress on education: to prepare society for the future. 21st century skills focus on using knowledge to think critically, collaborate, communicate, solve problems, create and continue to learn.
  • Fostering ICT potentials. ICT has tremendous potential in the educational field. It can be used to support deep understanding of interrelated concepts, address misconceptions, explore systems, solve problems and connect learners to real-life contexts. After a 20-year investment into an ICT-Infrastructure, it is now time to ensure general uptake and full pedagogical integration. The future of ICT in an educational context lies with pedagogy-driven innovation.
  • Supporting intergenerational knowledge transfer. Addressing the demographic changes in Europe also means finding ways to promote effective knowledge transfer and safeguard experience-based knowledge. This contributes substantially towards improving the competitiveness and productivity of the European economy, through better use of the knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the European knowledge base.

Objectives

By combining two methodological approaches, the e-VITA project promotes and investigates pedagogy driven innovation, defining new approaches to problem-based and contextualised learning as well as knowledge-transfer through the integration of Game Based Learning (GBL) with intergenerational learning concepts.

A set of games increasing European cultural awareness by conveying the cross-border experiences of older Europeans will be developed, allowing users to experience Europe in a time when strict travelling and migration rules, different economic and monetary systems, and intercultural uncertainty was commonplace in an innovative and engaging way. Thus, the games will promote self- reflection upon the achievements of the European Integration process outside of a formal instructional context. The key outcomes, which include innovative pedagogical models, GBL development and implementation processes, and intergenerational approaches, can be transferred to other learning scenarios in different organisations for different learners.

The project focuses on GBL in order to provide games that are deeply motivating, engaging and foster learning and training 21st century skills like adaptability, self-direction, risk taking, interactive communication, and prioritisation, that are difficult to teach with normal approaches.

Serious games (SGs) are interactive e-simulations of real situations where the learner develops communication or behaviour strategies to reach an objective, manage situations, take contrasting elements into account and try different approaches to see how the context reacts to different inputs. Very close to reality SGs are multi-situational - the user can experience different aspects of the same situation

Promoting intergenerational learning approaches is crucial for knowledge transfer and to safeguard experience-based personal knowledge. Generations derive mutual benefits from storytelling, and the learning process as a whole is reciprocal.  Personal history and experiences, related to European history as a whole, are an interesting and appealing cultural subject, representing a significant cultural resource which may easily be lost. e-VITA's approach is based on contextualised storytelling: stories are recognised to be faster and easier understood than abstract and theoretical concepts; and they embed knowledge in a concrete game situation with facts, connections and emotions resulting in a holistic approach which fosters experiential knowledge.

The game

Under the e-VITA project, a set of games are being developed which seek to promote European cultural awareness by conveying the cross-border experiences of older generations to younger gamers. These games allow users to experience aspects of Europe's past - for example strict travelling and migration rules, different economic and monetary systems and uncertainties towards intercultural aspects in an interactive and engaging way. Consequently, the games devised promote self-reflection on the achievements of the European Integration process, outside a formal instructional context.

The methodology

The methodology underpinning the e-VITA project seeks to devise an appropriate learning environment in order to obtain the highest possible quality of educational results. Using serious games in order to achieve effective knowledge sharing and transfer of experience is a challenging task, and for this reason the e-VITA methodology gives specific reference to pedagogical frameworks and the relationship between theories of learning and serious games. A four-dimensional framework is being utilised which considers the dimensions of learner, pedagogy, context, and representation in order to define a participatory design approach, with clear guidelines for implementation and knowledge transfer.