Andreas Herrler experiences that students often know the importance of what they study, but need to find stimuli for studying it. For a major part of nowadays students, gaming is very motivating.
While having a chat with Andreas Herrler about the TOOL-Anatomy project, funded by SURF / the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), we touch upon another theme. It appears that Herrler has also invested in creating serious games to help his students actively engage with the subject. According to Herrler, serious games
have an explicit and carefully thought-out educational purpose and are not intended to be played primarily for amusement. This does not mean that serious games are not, or should not be, entertaining.”
Most important is the learning objective to be defined in the beginning, adding on some fun interactive media, resulting in an increase of knowledge or skills.
Create and edit your own course game
An example he shows me, is a self-assessment tool meant to improve student performance within the context of anatomy. Together with colleagues from RWTH Aachen University he created a gaming editor in which teachers can create puzzle-style games, closely fitting the learning matters of the course, something serious games often lack. Using this editor, teachers can create and edit their own course based game without sophisticated computer knowledge. Important to mention that one can create (and play) games for all domains, not only medicine related! As long as something can be presented in a table containing up to four columns, this can be used to build a serious game.
The stimuli effect of gaming
Herrler experiences that students often know the importance of what they study, but need to find stimuli for studying it. For a major part of nowadays students, gaming is very motivating. Having a self-explanatory understandable game requiring a short time of attention which can be played everywhere (on- as well as offline on PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone) and anytime (waiting for friends, in a train, while having a meal at the mensa) would stimulate their study on top of normal education (studying from (e-)books and in lectures). Set aside the game is more a self-assessment, than a tool to study, the game is also offering e-learning links (master and/or basic level) to study each topic.
Check the effect of your teaching activities
Teachers can check the effect of their teaching activities by observing the game results of their students. As a follow up the teacher can search for the topics answered most frequently wrong and focus on these during contacts hours. The student with the best high score at the end of the course receives a price which acts as a stimulus to learn to reach the master level. Nevertheless, students have to realise what can be learned by the game and why it is important to study it.
Determine the learning curve
Herrler stresses that having built the basic module and launched the first game is a starting point. Together with RWTH Aachen University he will investigate how frequently the game is used and if and what benefits playing the game offer. The learning curve can be determined as students have to login for the game using their I-number. Furthermore, looking to the final assessments of the block the relation of successful gaming and assessments results in the related questions can be investigated.
About Andreas Herrler
Dr. Andreas Herrler has been working at Maastricht University since August 2008 as lecturer and researcher. His focus lies on development of education, virtual reality, research in education, serious gaming, problem based learning, anatomy, embryology and virtual histology.