GAMILearning – Jogos Digitais para a Literacia Mediática e Informacional
The Games for Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Learning project (GAMILearning) is funded by FCT and aims to develop the critical and participative dimensions of media literacy of tweens, through the gamification of the learning experience
Working with cohorts of youth aged 9 to 12 in Portugal and Austin, Texas, GAMILearning (UTAP-ICDT/IVC-ESCT/0020/2014) builds on field-tested research to address the need for student awareness and skill in managing their digital identities with game play and production. In the process, the project explores the way that the game analysis and production supports a wide range of media literacy and learning skills.
There is a generalized consensus that “promoting and enhancing media literacy, for child and adult populations, is of growing importance, in a context of digital media convergence and a highly complex media and information ecology” (Livingstone, Bulguer, & Zaborowski, 2013, p. 4; Hobbs, 2008, p. 431). In Portugal, media literacy and education policies are available; schools already have computers with internet access, a Guideline for Media Education in Pre-school, Elementary and Secondary School was recently launched by Direção Geral da Educação (DGE). Nonetheless, there is a general consensus about the lack of teachers’ training and content in formal education (Costa, Jorge, & Pereira, 2013). Furthermore, several initiatives in promoting media literacy are already in place but they lack user-based design and outcome measurement.
According to EU Kids online II report, when children begin to use the internet, the first things they do are schoolwork and playing games alone or against the computer (100%) and they continue to “play games” as they embrace other leisure activities (Livingstone, Haddon, Görzig, Ólafsson, & al., 2011).
Games have been used in teaching for quite a while and their learning potentials have been discussed extensively (Gee 2007, 2010). They can be integrated in teaching in several ways, such as using commercial titles, developing games with specific learning goals or leading the students to create their own games (Van Eck, 2006). The latter has traditionally been practiced as a way of teaching programming and problem-solving skills (Ibid.). In addition to these approaches, the GAMILearning project deals with games as reflexive tools that children can use for establishing and developing their own critical understanding of media. First of all, critical media literacy requires the development of reflexive knowledge: a child needs to know a topic very well to be able to produce a related game. Secondly, in the process of game creation, children engage in collaboration and peer-learning, which has been shown to support critical literacy and learning across the curriculum (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004; Torres, 2009). Third, game design and content creation also provides children with opportunities to integrate and reflect on their everyday media experience. Moreover, the GAMILearning project creates reciprocal links between critical analysis of game design and content with the technical skills and knowledge need for the production of games.
One of the strengths of GAMILearning consortium lies in an international team of researchers (ULHT, UAveiro and UT-Austin) and a partner from Industry (PTC-SAPO) that already has in place a social network (SAPO Campus) with nearly 100 Portuguese schools. SAPO campus is a secure and private social network where each school could configure the degree of communication and sharing with other schools. Since SAPO Campus is not mandatory (it’s not an institutional platform) one can expect motivation and creativity from its members as well diversity in practitioners’ pedagogical approaches.
Capitalizing on the above opportunities and strengths, the researchers will focus on advancing the methodologies to create and measure an innovative approach to the usage of digital games in classroom. Indeed, a substantial part of the project deals with research and creation of such methodologies and tools that will enable the usage of a digital gamification system in a classroom ecosystem, by teachers and children.
A key challenge of the GAMILearning project is to go beyond deploying games to be played in the classroom: indeed, we will create conditions that allow teachers and students to construct their own games, as they perform other learning activities. The Consortium brings significant experience with games-based education that will ensure the achievement of the GAMILearning objectives. Furthermore, through comparing critical media literacy development of participants in GAMILearning with non-participants of similar age, demographic and media access profiles, this project will assess the separate but related impacts of game design, pedagogy and peer community experiences on MIL development in the learning process.Team and partners:
- Conceição Costa (Principal Investigator), ECATI, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias
- José Rogado (COPELABS), ECATI, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias
- Sara Henriques, ECATI, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias
- Kathleen Tyner, University of Austin-Texas
- Carlos Santos, Universidade de Aveiro
- João Batista, Universidade de Aveiro
- Luis Pedro, Universidade de Aveiro
- Pedro Figueira Torres, SAPO-PT