22 SES 06 C, Digital Support and Context for Learning
This PhD research study aims to examine how Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) contribute to the engagement of higher education students with current human rights and sustainability issues, such as the refugee crisis. Can these immersive game experiences promote deep, transformative learning and enable change agency in human rights/ sustainability education?
An ARG is an interactive narrative ‘that plays out in real time, using real communications media to make it seem as though the story were really happening’ (Phillips 2012: 19). Players are involved in a series of challenges that are deployed both online and in the real world (Whitton et al. 2014). These immersive quests usually unfold around websites containing clues, fictional characters’ blog posts or Social Media status updates, videos, emails, text or audio messages, and in some cases physical objects such as map clippings or business cards. Participants navigate through real and fictional websites, decode encrypted messages, solve puzzles, gather clues and interact with fictional characters via email, chat or SMS, in order to progress through the story and resolve a problem or a mystery.
Why ARGs? ARGs are customizable, cost-effective, highly interactive games that use technology easily accessible in higher education. This immersive game format can be an effective vehicle for deep, transformative learning.
The research will involve the design and development of ARG activities that will be integrated within courses in a higher education setting. The study will examine the nature and level of students' engagement with the game and the impact of ARGs on their motivational levels. Furthermore, the study will explore the impact of ARGs on learners' cognitive frames of thinking. Through qualitative and quantitative data analysis, the study will determine whether ARGs have an impact on participant’s dispositions regarding particular human rights abuse issues and whether they can enable positive change and action. Lastly, the use of this particular game genre will be discussed, with emphasis on whether the techno-pedagogic design of the ARG activities is an effective model for game-based learning in higher education.
This research aims to discover how Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) can enhance the learning process, for higher education students engaged in Human Rights studies. The research will involve the design, development and assessment of ARG activities that can be integrated within learning environments.
The study will examine:
- The nature and level of learners' engagement in ARGs: interaction with story and characters, choices, solutions, progress.
- The impact of ARGs on motivational levels of learners: participants’ dispositions towards the ARG experience.
- The impact of ARGs on learner’s cognitive frames of thinking. Has there been a shift of perspectives towards human rights abuse?
- The potential of ARGs in enabling change agency within human rights education.
- The effectiveness of the techno-pedagogic design of this project.
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