Using Games, Mobile and Wireless Environments to Construct Meaningful and Motivating LearningTwo Cases: Adventure in the Castle of Oulu (1651) and Virtual Snellman (1822)
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The traditional notion of a learning environment has expanded to cover virtual spaces. Today, these virtual learning environments are often network-based and readily wireless accessible to a certain group of students. Virtual meeting places are extremely popular among young people. Their very popularity can occasionally even present problems in everyday schoolwork. Thus, attempts to harness these new tools and environments for learning purposes are worth undertaking. These considerations have inspired the present project that has produced a 3D virtual learning environment with the aim of providing a space for learning activities. The space itself and its virtual inhabitants in these cases are based on historical data. The players who enter this environment learn by interacting with the characters and each other. The game offers challenges the players try to solve as a team. It emphasizes group work skills, group interaction, and cooperation in various conflict situations that have to be negotiated inside the virtual world. Historical information plays a key role in game play and thus the learning experience is integrated to the events of the game, making learning fun. The environment utilizes both verbal and non-verbal communication and it does not contain violent or destructive elements and therefore it is suitable for children of all ages and both sexes. One of the important goals of realizing the Snellman game is to make sure the application can be transported to other networks and is able to utilize different learning environments through, for instance, mobile devices. The use of mobile technology raises a number of questions in terms of production. How central a role should mobile devices assume in game play? In what way should information acquired via mobile devices mesh with the virtual environment?