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Making Games, Making Literacy: A Case-Study in Formal Educational Contexts

Sousa, Carla and Cardoso, Daniel and Costa, Conceição and Tyner, Kathleen (2018) Making Games, Making Literacy: A Case-Study in Formal Educational Contexts. In: 12th European Conference on Games-based Learning, 04 October 2018 - 05 October 2018, Sophia Antipolis, France.

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Abstract

This paper aims to discuss the challenges of implementing a game-creation learning strategy to approach Media and Information Literacy (MIL), by reflecting on how different affordances and constraints, such as classroom’s design, setting and the adopted pedagogical strategies impact the learning process. We also contribute to a critical stance on game-creation in the learning environment, by reflecting on the lessons learned and the strategies deployed to deal with unforeseen events while working with students and gathering data. This will allow us, to refine and complexify the practices surrounding this pedagogical tool. This proposal is framed on GamiLearning (2015-2018), a research project that aims to promote critical and participative dimensions of MIL in children through the creation of digital games. The project argues that the process of creation and development of videogames can help the promotion of MIL, in particular operational, editorial, organizational, and digital identity management skills. The present paper focuses on the project’s fieldwork, developed in three different schools in Greater Lisbon, Portugal, with fifth-graders, aged 9 to 12. The data was gathered using observation, and an observation grid, specifically developed for the project, was filled out for each session, considering the following categories: MIL Skills, student’s behaviors and beliefs, pedagogical strategies and difficulties. The data were subjected to content analysis with the help of NVivo 11, with several researchers from the team involved in creating a coding scheme that could be deployed in other MIL projects around game creation activities. The main difficulties felt by students were related to the usage of Scratch to create their own animation stories or to remix existing games, although these were also the most engaging tasks. The main pedagogical strategy used to approach game creation was project-based learning, and the main constraints are related with access issues in schools, mainly with the wi-fi network, and with the user interface usability of the used platforms. These observations aim to document game creation by students not only as a hands-on approach to the development of MIL but also as a pedagogical tool across the curriculum.

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