One of the most immersive learning experiences I've had was a course in business finance many years ago. We had two days at a conference centre to learn more about balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, budgets and so on. I had dreaded the course and was fully prepared to be bored stiff with only coffee breaks and meals to look forward to.
We were placed in 6 groups, each representing a company and proceeded to play a board game for the 2 days simulating several years of fierce competition between our companies. We had to build our companies, devise a business concept, plan operations, fix our budget and bid for contracts. Basically we took it all so seriously that we lost track of time. Coffee breaks were either ignored or taken on the fly, mealtimes were a necessary evil and the course leaders had to almost throw us out of the classroom at 11pm so we could get some sleep. I've been on courses on much more interesting subjects but nothing comes close to the commitment and enthusiasm I experienced on this one.
This was in the early nineties and there wasn't a computer in sight but the power of gaming in education was evident even then. There's nothing new about games being used to stimulate learning and it doesn't need to be hi-tech gaming either.
|Photo: Lars-Göran Hedström|
Last week at a conference called Next Generation Learning
in Falun, Sweden, we (Ebba Ossiannilsson from Lund University and myself) ran a workshop session to help participants discover more about open educational resources (see Book of abstracts
C4 p 46). The concept was inspired by a team from Open University
in the UK. Instead of simply providing an overview of the key concepts of OER by means of a lecture we used a board game. The game was loosely based on the famous Monopoly though it was really anti-monopoly; no money, no winner, no greed, no real competition. The aim was to share knowledge and experience.
The idea was to throw the dice and move around the board, landing on squares marked with different concepts, projects and organisations associated with OER. When a team landed on a square they had to share information about that concept. If they knew very little they used laptops or mobiles to find out as fast as possible. The other teams could also contribute and any relevant experience of the concepts were also shared. As we moved around the board the participants' knowledge of OER was widened and time simply flew by.
Basically the board game become simply a prompt for discussion and information sharing. The gaming element was relatively unimportant but the opportunity to share knowledge and experience was highly appreciated. The low-tech board game combined with the use of mobiles and laptops stimulated real discussion and discovery and a more active classroom experience than the standard input lecture.
The game OERopoly was createed by Theresa Connolly at the Open University, UK. The workshop and the boardgame were used with kind permission to disseminate the OERopoly by Connoly, Wilson, Makryannis, De Liddo and Lane (2011),This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Connolly, T., Makriyannis, E., De Liddo, A. et al. (2010). OERopoly: A Game to Generate Collective Intelligence around OER. In Open Ed 2010 Proceedings. Barcelona: UOC, OU, BYU. Retrieved 31 January 2012 from http://hdl.handle.net/10609/4968.
Connolly, T., Wilson, T., Makriyannis, E., De Liddo, A. & Andy Lane, A. (2011). OERopoly: Learning about OER communities, collaboration and contexts. OpenCourseWare Consortium Global Meetings, OCWC Global 2011: Celebrating 10 years of OpenCourseWare. Retrieved 31 January 2012 from http://conference.ocwconsortium.org/index.php/2011/cambridge/paper/view/118.