The applied research proposal “Didactics-Driven Development” addresses the problem of validation of Applied Games, in particular Serious Games with specific didactic goals and intended outcomes. In current practice, the didactic goals and intended outcomes are often considered only at the start and the end of the development process, but get lost along the way, whereas they should receive attention during the whole development process. The project aims at establishing a methodology and a tool for the systematic validation of such applied educational games. The methodology is inspired by Test-Driven Development, adapted for educational games, by supporting dynamic requirements relating to didactic goals and intended outcomes, and tracking design decisions related to these didactic concerns. The tool will support making explicit these didactic concerns, and monitoring and measuring the actual educational outcomes, during the development process.
At least one case study will be carried out within Pillar Games, on the use of the methodology and tool during the actual development of an educational game. Through the use of the methodology and tool, Pillar Games expects to put more attention on the didactic goals during the development process, gain insight into how design and implementation choices relate to the didactic concerns, and gather evidence about how they affect the actual learning outcomes of the game at various moments during the development process.
The project is expected to deliver the following:
- a Didactics-Driven Development methodology for applied educational games, that allows for iterative design and testing of modifications to the software with respect to intended and actual educational outcomes;
- a tool for distributing the educational game under development together with user tests to support gathering data about the didactic effects during the development process;
- a method (as part of the methodology), for describing didactic concerns (goals, intended effects, etc.) to support the creation of such tests (which may lead to an additional tool in the future);
- use of the methodology and tool is expected to lead to more and better information about learning outcomes of educational games at a time that this information is most needed during the development process;
- an experience report with findings about at least one case study on the use of the methodology and tool during the actual development of an educational game by Pillar Games;
- 2 presentations about project progress;
- 1 Fieldlab workshop on how the methodology and tool can be used by game industry practitioners;
- General publicity for the Fieldlab and CLICKNL.
The problem addressed in this project is how to achieve the development of high quality applied educational games. As the Dutch Games Monitor (2013) mentions, “the Dutch (games) industry is not as centered on producing the ‘classic’ games in boxes, but rather focusing on digital distribution and on applied games”. For applied games, validation is an important issue, because without proper assessment of the learning outcomes in relation to the intended effects, the quality of these games cannot be guaranteed. However, many small-to-medium sized game companies lack don’t have the resources to run long term research projects, because they have relatively short time-to-market. To support game companies in the validation of educational effects of their applied games, we propose to develop a methodology and tools for Didactics-Driven Development that addresses these concerns.
The main research question is the following:
- How can the process of applied game development be improved by Didactics-Driven Development? The proposed solution consists of a methodology and a tool for Didactics-Driven Development.
The Didactics-Driven Development methodology integrates didactic concerns into the requirements analysis, and supports systematic testing of the intended effects during the development process of applied educational games. The methodology is based on the idea of test-driven development, adapted for didactic goals and desired outcomes. We envision the methodology to be supported by a set of tools, but in this project, we focus on developing one toolin particular: this tool should allow for distributing the educational game under development
together with pre- and post-tests that help validate the didactic effects of the game by gathering data about learning effects (see figure 1 for an example of the results that would be generated by such an approach). This makes the intended and actual learning outcomes explicit for all parties involved.
Principal applicant: Dr. Anders Bouwer
Affiliation: Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Hogeschool van Amsterdam)