Higher Education and Student Expectations Today

Within the context of higher education today, there is a movement away from an education model towards a business model. Universities are in the process of defining themselves within the ‘business’ space and the following trends are impacting the definition:

  • Opportunities for ‘Open’ education (movement away from entrance ranks to education for all) is in its infancy, but a driver for e-learning.
  • Teaching versus research institution poses an increase demand on academic staff in relation to research, the promotion of and findings.
  • Government funding is targeted towards the percentage of low-SES students attending the University.
  • Disengagement of students with ‘knowledge’ driven classroom settings (lecture/readings/tutorials) at a time where retention is essential for the underlying business model.

The following video highlights expectations of students within higher education today and questions the traditional practices, including classroom design, that are a part of everyday University life.

Given the current context of higher education, combined with the current digital environment demands and Johnson, et. al’s (2012) projection of education in the next three to five years, the educator needs to embark on Wesch’s (2012) idea of moving:
  • from a knowledgeable (knowing and retaining information) practice of teaching
  • to knowledage-able (find, sort, analyze, discuss, critique and create information) practice of teaching.

Role of Educator and Learner in Game-Based Learning

The Role of the Educator in Game-Based Learning

As Garrison (1997) observes ‘collaboration and constructivist approaches to learning do not happen by simply making the technology available’ (p. 5). The educator plays a critical role in the transition period mapping the curriculum to game-based learning. It is worthwhile to note that the transition must ‘not be merely about moving conventional learning to Internet [game], but about enriching and changing it’ (Lynch, 2001, as cited Teras & Myllyla, 2009, p. 3). Enrichment would be evidenced in the creation of a knowledge-able learning environment (see Wesch, 2012).

The transition period would involve stakeholder management. Supervisors, e-learning support staff and IT support would need to be brought on board early in the process. Student stakeholder management is also essential as they also can create obstacles to implementation should they not see gaming as a learning tool.

During the game based learning sessions, most importantly, educators should provide structured reflection and debriefing to make explicit the knowledge that has been developed (Wagner, 2008) and allow students themselves to acknowledge that game-based strategies can also foster learning (Prensky 2003). Reporting, reflection and evaluation is a key part of the learning process that will be undertaken.

In-game, the educator becomes the lorekeeper (Gillispie and Lawson, 2011). It is anticipated that the educator will also need to participate in peer-based online activities as they can serve as innovative and immersive learning environments in themselves (Ito et al. 2008). As they develop their own expertise, curriculum-centred learning environments can be built, which resemble existing patterns of lessons in the classroom (Mayo, 2009, p. 13).

The educator also needs to share experiences and evangelise to other teachers the benefits to the learner, such as the development of deep understanding and problematic knowledge (see Wood, 2011), thus encouraging integration of game-based learning.

The Role of the Learner in Game-Based Learning

The role of the learner is to be a produser (see Bruns) in a knowledge-able environment (see Wesch, 2012). Participating virtuality through game play and make meaning of those experiences through character interactions. Within the realm of games, there is the opportunity for building identity for interaction and experimentation and for amplification and practice (see  Engenfeldt and Nielson, 2006).

Assessments may include reflections and content creation through a variety of formats, including blogs, video, advertisements, propaganda, media articles, reviews, and Fakebook accounts.

Assessments take the form of quests and may include:

  • comparing and contrasting in-game experiences to curriculum
  • making meaning of game based experiences
  • reflections on identities in online space

In addition to compulsory learning objectives, learners should be permitted enough freedom to decide on strategies and choose their own pathways through a constructivist-style learning environment (Sanchez 2011). The learner becomes the hero (Gillispie and Lawson, 2011).

Learners should also experience failure but without serious consequences and be given constructive feedback to encourage them to keep trying (Sanchez 2011; Squire 2008). It is through alternative courses of action the learner is able to experience consequences (Mason and Rennie, 2008, p. 110).


Bruns, A., 2008. The Future is User-Led: The Path towards Widespread Produsage, The Fibreculture Journal. Available at: http://eleven.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-066-the-future-is-user-led-the-path-towards-widespread-produsage/

Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S., 2006. Overview of research on the educational use of video games, Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, [online] Available at: <http://www.idunn.no/ts/dk/2006/03/overview_of_research_on_the_educationaluseof_video_games>

Garrison, D. R., 1997. Computer conferencing: the post-industrial age of distance education. Open learning, Vol. 12(2), pp. 3-11.

Gillispie, L., and Lawson, C., 2011. WoWinSchool: A Hero’s Journey. Available at: http://wowinschool.pbworks.com/f/WoWinSchool-A-Heros-Journey.pdf

Ito, M, Horst, H., Bittanti, M., Boyd, D., Herr-Stephenson, B. Lange, P., Pascoe C., and Robinson, L. (with Baumer, S., Cody, R., Mahendran, D., Martínez, K., Perkel, D., Sims, C., and Tripp, L.), 2008. Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning [pdf], Available at <http://digitalyouth.ischool.berkeley.edu/files/report/digitalyouth-WhitePaper.pdf>

Mason, R. & Rennie, F., 2008. Chapter 4: The Tools in Practice, in E-Learning and Social Networking Handbook: Resources for Higher Education, New York and London, Routledge. Available at: <http://www.lib.uts.edu.au/drr/25184>

Mayo, M., 2009. Bringing Game-Based Learning to Scale: The Business Challenges of Serious Games, [online] Available at SSRN: <http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1494526>

Prensky, M., 2003. Digital Game-Based Learning [pdf] Available at: <https://learn.it.uts.edu.au/gamed/Autumn04/support/gamebasedlearn.pdf>

Sanchez, E., 2011. Key Criteria in Game Design: A Framework [pdf] Quebec: The European Commission. Available at: <www.reseaucerta.org/meet/Key_criteria_for_Game_Design_v2.pdf>

Teras, H. and Myllyla, M., 2009. Educating Teachers for the Knowledge Society: Social Media, Authentic Learning and Communities of Practice. Available at: http://tamk.academia.edu/HannaTer%C3%A4s/Papers/652118/Educating_Teachers_for_the_Knowledge_Society_Social_Media_Authentic_Learning_and_Communities_of_Practice

Wagner, Mark., 2011. Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games As Constructivist Learning Environments in K-12 Education: A Delphi Study. [pdf] Available at: <http://edtechlife.com/files/dissertation/Wagner_Mark_Dissertation.pdf>

Wesch, M., 2012. From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able. Available at: <http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxKC-Michael-Wesch-From-Knowl|http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxKC-Michael-Wesch-From-Knowl>

Wood, K., 2011. Simulation video games as learning tools: an examination of instructor guided reflection on cognitive outcomes. Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology Ph. D. Georgia State University, Atlanta.

Lu and Properties of Digital Environments

Lu (2005) proposes there are four properties of digital environments, plus an additional two when you combine some…I have mapped some examples of what I believe would fit within these properties…feel free to let me know your thoughts and if you have any to add reply to this post 🙂

Property Summary/Description (Lu, 2005) iTV Examples
  • “…patterns of rule based behaviour”
  • “…rule generated behaviour. We can induce the behaviour.”
Procedural + Participatory
  • Murray (as cited Lu, 2005) states “interactivity is best achieved by maximising the procedural and participatory properties” (p. 116)
  • “…patterns of navigation and boundary definition”
  • “navigating in 3D”
  • “…patterns of segmentation, categorisation and agglomeration”
  • “information storage and retrieval”
Spatial + Encyclopedic
  • Lu (2005) advises the effect of this combination is ‘immersion’.
  • CSI App Lu discusses


  • Lu, K. (May 2005) ‘Chapter 5: Principles of interaction design for iTV: synthesizing the investigation’ in Interaction design principles for interactive television, A thesis presented to the academic faculty, Master of Science in Information Design and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Task Oriented Design

The question of the week embedded in each of the readings seems to be what is interaction design. Calde & Cooper (n.d.), Rheingold (1992) and Hurst (2002) focus on knowing not just who the user is, but also about knowing the goal the user wants to achieve, and designing for that goal to be achieved. Rheingold (1992) states that “We ought to be asking what tasks people need to accomplish, what tools are most appropriate for those tasks” (p. 7). This could be labelled as goal directed design or task oriented design.

Calde & Cooper (n.d.) propose the following steps to achieve goal directed design:

  1. Interview and observe customers
  2. Discover their goals
  3. Create an archetypal user
  4. Design something that satisfies the archetypal user

It is important to note that Calde & Cooper (n.d.) were talking of their clients in the above process. The steps in isolation, would be able to be used for clients walking into a shop, using a vending machine, using a website to make a purchase among other commerce transactions. There is no specific context, nor is there any information about how to make the product interactive. It is more about the designer knowing who the user is and what the goals they would like to achieve are, then designing for the user to complete the set goal/s.

Similarly, Hurst (2002) provides goal oriented design steps. Hurst (2002) states that “users either click toward the goal, or they click the Back button” (p.1). In order to make sure the user completes their required task, rather than clicking the Back button, Hurst (2002) proposes the designer to:

  1. Identify user’s goals on each page
  2. De-emphasize or remove any page elements (or areas of a site) that don’t help to accomplish this goal
  3. Emphasize (or insert) those links, forms, or other elements that either take users closer to their goal, or finally accomplish it

While the above steps are more suited the context of the online world than Calde & Cooper (n.d.), I believe Hurst’s (2002) model is also suited to the e-business world where there is a targeted group of people and there could be clear goals on each page or site and the user is driven to those goals. Only have on the page what you require on the page. Remove what is unnecessary. Assist your user to complete the task they need to complete!

I am interested to know your thoughts – I selected two iPhone pages (the first two that came to mind) – what is the goal of each page? Is it obvious? Which one meets the model of knowing the user and their goals, then designing for that user and their goals?


Choose your own adventure…pre-defined telephone menus

Telephone numbers you call with pre-defined menu’s……………they can create a positive user experience if the menu’s are intuitive and well set up (so that there is a maximum of three steps) and there are others that can create a negative user experience. The negative user experiences are those where the user enters a client number, that is not provided to the person that picks up the call, if there are more than three menus and if there is no option to skip through to an operator (as you may not want to select any of the numbers as they may not relate to you).

With ‘menu’ options within interactive television, based on my experiences, it should be easy to navigate to and I should be able to action tasks, for example recording a television show in multiple ways – depending on the screen I am on. Recording should be able to be completed from the interactive television guide, from the show I am watching (eg/ record now), and from a search screen. These are my expectations and there are most likely viewer expectations depending on the device they are using and their past experiences. It is therefore a requirement to understand engagement expectations of the user. This can be achieved by understanding the user/viewer in order to create a user-centred design.

Chorianopoulous (2005) and Garrett (2000) focus on user centred design and in the case of interactive tv, it would be called viewer centred design. They each suggest different ways to find out what the expectations of the user/viewer may be, some examples include:

  • user studies
  • user analysis and modelling
  • user research
  • ethno/techno/psychographics

There are also persona’s and scenarios that can be developed once the above is defined. Does anyone have other ways of gathering viewer information in order to understand the viewer and design with them in mind?


How to ‘seduce’ Amy!

1/ Start with a teaser ad…

In 2011, the following billboard was posted by Toyota and was placed on the M5 (near airport – meaning lots of traffic) and in context as people drive – they think what it would be like if enclosed inside and in control of such a concept car (notice how you cannot see inside the car? Anyone, meaning you, could be driving! This ad started people talking as the last “sports” car Toyota released was the Celica in 2006 and there has been rumours that a new sports car would be released…but when…

I also have a history with Toyota Celica’s, my parents had three in the time I was living at home and they were all reliable (fun) cars. My first car was a Celica! So this ad pulled at my heart strings!

Toyota Billboard

Note: If you are not able to see the billboard above, download it through the link – Attention_Toyota.jpg 

2 / 12 months later, release a television commercial of the 86 in action!

Toyota released a television commercial that was localised to Australia (NZ also ran with a localised ad – the fun police!). The music, the visuals, the motor sports driver creating their own track in outback Australia. But it is still a teaser, so not yet available to be driven.

Watch it on YouTube: Toyota 86 Raw Driving  

3/ Tell me about the ideal and the real!

Three months after the tv commercial and in the same location as the original billboard, the ideal and the real were provided! [I wish I could show you the billboard – but was driving at the time so I couldn’t take a photo]. Couple it with Kress and vanLeeuwen’s ‘real’ and ‘given’ – see image from Wheels Magazine below.

You don’t need to read the story to know that when on a race track, the 86 beat the Porche! There is specific placement of the 86 in front of the Porche and the 86 takes up most of the ‘centre’ (see orange circle highlighting this space). The sharpness of the cars contrasted with the blurring of the track and background suggest the cars are moving extremely fast (and this is supported with the smoke around the tyres). In the bottom left of the ad/image, is the placement of text where the real and the given are stated: “The day the world changed…” and this is backed up by the sub-text and story (see orange square highlighting this space).

Note: If you are not able to see the above image, download the image from TheDayTheWorldChanged.jpg 

My questions to you:

The Toyota 86 has a twin! The development of the car was a joint initiative between Subaru and Toyota and they both have the rights to sell the car, just with different names and different advertising (very different advertising – as the only way I knew about the twin was me raving on about wanting to buy the 86 and my partner asking me what the cost of the ‘other one’ is to compare prices – he didn’t know the name, nor had he seen any advertising about it, rather just a small article in MX Magazine talking about the joint initiative)…

So, my questions to you – Looking at just the home page of each car:

What emotions does each page evoke in you?
Which one seduces you?
If you were interested in buying a car and you were comparing these twins, which one would you want to find out more about?



Mason & Rennie on Game-Based Learning: A Quick Summary!

Students are immersed in technology while learning from the technology, for example vent/skype; wiki (collaborate); and walk throughs. In addition to the curriculum, students learn key digital literacy skills. Below are the strengths of game-based learning as evidenced in WoW (Mason and Rennie, 2008, p. 110-111):

  • Development of problem-solving skills  – ‘challenge and support players to approach, explore and overcome increasingly complex problems’ (p. 110)
  • Provision of alternative solutions – ‘try alternative courses of action…experience consequences” (p. 110)
  • Practice, practice and re-practice –  ‘Players probe the virtual world of the game, from hypotheses about it, re-probe it with those hypotheses in mind, and then, based on feedback from their virtual world, accept or re-think those hypotheses’ (p. 110)
  • Differentiation of identities – games are “microworlds” and students have the opportunity to ‘develop a much firmer sense of how specific social processes and practices are interwoven and how different bodies of knowledge relate to each other’ (p. 111)
  • Motivation – self-explanatory and this will be explored further as while it is a strength, it may also be regarded as a negative
  • Access to and use of multiple modalities: ‘print, sound and image’ (p. 111)

Mason, R. and Rennie, F., (2008). E-learning and social networking handbook, New York: Routledge.

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