Today we attended to Tallin University and assisted to Martin Siallots classroom. He’s nowadays in charge of DLG Master (Digital Learning Games) in this institution. After a brief presentation of his curriculum to introduce himself as an expert, the learning finally began.
One of the most important keys for game designers (and also digital learning games) its playability as principal sign of quality, but in DLG it must be linked to subjects and contents.
Martin started his example of a DLG with Gazzilionarie, a simulation game related to reach another planet and sell it. Continues with JA Titan (can be used it as a class or a course), wich is a similar simulation game as Gazzilionarie, about economics (it doesn’t works on tablet). It’s business educational goals are: in one hand, demand and supply; in the other hand, market balance, productivity, marketing, research and budgeting.
Of course this examples are not visually attractive but it’s goal isn’t to be beautiful. You can use commercial games to be used seriously in the classroom. Martin explains the case of “World of Harry Potter” in which the a teacher from Netherlands designed an interesting proposal: students plays the game at home, select one character and write an essay about it (this way he achieved his students to be seduced by story and finally to read the books).
Martin gave us new examples: “eco house” (a energy safe simulator) and “Busy workers” (a simulator about safety at work) and “TIMESH” (game for teaching history of Europe). It’s a pity, but after three years of development was closed because they don’t get enough money to update the game.
Professor Siallots underlined that to define evaluation criteria for games could help to develop critical thinking and learning-to-learn competence (when students design their own games or test and compares different games, of course). After this overview on DLG he gave us some guidelines on game designing process in order to develop our own proposals during the workshops in the second part of the morning. It was a very inspiring and useful experience, followed of the not less meaningful discussion about our novel designs.
We also assisted to several presentations of DLG Master students and participate in three different workshops they organized. Mine was related an app to improve ecological skills in students (about separating garbage) and we had a very interesting conversation with its developer, in which also had the opportunity to gave her some meaningful feedback about in which way she could improve the game.
After this intense and enriching session, I had a walk in the medieval streets of Tallin with some of my colleagues. I rested a few minutes in my hotel and then I went to the old town in order to have dinner with some other colleagues in the pintoresque “Olde hansa” (a restaurant without electric light, with medieval ambience, where you can taste some typical Estonian food).