Children's Involvement in the Design of Game-Based Learning Environments
Design and Use of Serious Games
Nousiainen, Tuula Children's Involvement in the Design of Game-Based Learning Environments Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä, 2008, 297 p. (Jyväskylä Studies in Computing ISSN 1456-5390; 95) ISBN 978-951-39-3449-1 (PDF), 978-951-39-3421-7 (nid.) Finnish summary Diss. This study examines the involvement of children in the development of gamebased learning environments. It aims to build a rich picture of the process and the effects of children's participation in technology design projects and to
... apply, modify, and develop methods and practices to be used in this context. In this study, user involvement is investigated in terms of two dimensions: its process and its goals. The former explores the structure of the process and the methods employed in the involvement of users, as well as the collaboration between developers and users. The latter addresses the role of user expertise and the actual context, the empowerment of the users, and the quality of the outcome. These issues are examined from the points of view of both children and developers, as well as through the observation of participation activities and the analysis of the final products. The research was carried out at the Agora Center, University of Jyväskylä, within the development projects of two game-based learning environments -Talarius and Virtual Peatland. In each project, there was one elementary school class as the principal participant group. The research was conducted using development research as the main approach, and the research process was cyclical, with the results from the first project informing the planning and conducting of the other. Participation in a technology design project provides children with valuable opportunities both for learning and for voicing their opinions. In order to feel ownership over the final product, however, children need to see their contributions in the outcomes very concretely and be able to clearly follow and influence the evolution of their ideas throughout the process. As a response to challenges regarding the feeling of ownership, ways of building a more gradual and transparent process of involvement and the adoption of concrete content creation as a new element of participation are suggested. The results can be applied both in future design projects conducted with children, but also in a broader context, especially in classrooms to support children's technology and new media literacy skills.