Digital Creativity in Fun Learning

Teksti | Annemari Kuhmonen , Tarja Kantola

Fun and playful learning is relevant not only in any preschool, but also at every educational level and in the workplaces. Learning is said to be fun, when safe failure is allowed. A learning environment that encourages making mistakes nourishes creativity and fosters innovativeness.  Positive learning grows from an atmosphere of respect and appreciation among fellow learners. Additionally, the more diverse our peers are, the better the performance of the team is in the area of creativity because of a wide variety of perspectives, experiences and attitudes.

These research findings were applied in practice in the Zoom workshops on digital creativity that the Digital for Literacy and Future Education (DIG4LIFE) project organized for teachers, planners and project workers from various fields of Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Laurea UAS).

The DIG4LIFE project aims to improve digital and citizenship skills of upper secondary school students through the use of a serious game developed during the project. Serious games mean games that are designed to educate, train, inform and entertain. The purpose of the DIG4LIFE game is to translate the European Digital Competence Framework (DigComp) tool created for self-assessment (DigCompEdu 2021) into an interactive digital simulation that allows teachers to evaluate students’ digital literacy skills in a gamified way. The aim is also to encourage creativity and innovation and train skills related to digital maturity and active citizenship. (Dig4Life 2020.)

The serious game consists of the following components: digital literacy, digital numeracy, digital safety, digital collaboration, digital creativity and problem solving (Figure 1).

Digital Literacy as a part of the storyboard is as a responsiblility of the Austrian partner. Digital Numeracy as a part of the storyboard is as a responsible of the Lithuanian partner. Digital Safety as part of digital competence. Digital Safety as a part of the storyboard is as a responsibility of the Italian partners. Digital Collaboration as a part of the storyboard is as a responsibility of the Spanish partner. Digital Creativity as a part of the storyboard is as a responsibility of the Finnish partner. Problem Solving as a part of the storyboard is as a responsibility of the Slovenian partner.
Figure 1. Digital competencies and project partners’ responsibilities in them in the story board at DIG4LIFE project (DIG4LIFE Project 2020)

This article is focused on digital creativity, Laurea UAS’ responsibility area in the project. According to the DigComp framework, digital creativity consists of the following elements: 1. Divergent and convergent thinking, 2. Digital creation and expression, 3. Information literacy and digital citizenship, 4. Digital dispositions, and 5. Computational thinking & design thinking (DigCompEdu 2021; Lucas 2020; Punie 2017; Skills guide 2022).

Agile and fun learning experiment at work

Numerous studies show that having fun at work increases productivity, builds engagement and boosts well-being, resilience and creativity. According to Järvilehto (2014), fun and play are at the center of effective learning and creation of durable learning experiences, regardless of age. Neuroscience and motivation and positive psychology confirm this view. (Järvilehto 2014; Willis 2007.) Learning is fun at work when learning environments spark inspiration and everybody is appreciated for who they are (Lukander 2017).

At Laurea UAS fun learning was implemented in an agile learning experiment where episodes of the DIG4LIFE serious game were co-designed by a group of teachers, planners and project workers in several Zoom workshops. Miro visual collaboration board (https://miro.com) was utilized as a learning platform. Agile learning focuses on taking quick action, interpersonal risk-taking, high collaboration, reflecting and continuous improvement through feedback seeking. An iterative “fail fast” approach, which is typical for agile learning, was applied to the design process.

The learning journey began with testing one’s own digital skills using the PIAAC survey. The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is a programme of assessment and analysis of adult skills. The Survey measures adults’ proficiency in key information-processing skills – literacy, numeracy and problem solving – and gathers information and data on how adults use their skills at home, at work and in the wider community.

Gamification was heavily involved in the workshops from start to finish. Participants introduced themselves through an introductory game. Serious games were introduced through videos and playing games. As their own points of contacts to digital creativity, the participants shared, among other things, the presentation of research results in animation, simulation of interactive situations and learning design. The storyboarding workshops were facilitated by a game design professional from the game industry utilizing for example icebreakers, writing prompts and creativity exercises in iterations, and focusing on continuous improvement through feedback, as well as creating and maintaining safe learning environment.

An example of a creativity Exercise called “Bad Ideas”: Divide into groups, one ready-made bad Idea for each group, come up with as many benefits and selling points as you can! Time 4 minutes! Finally, the output is presented (”sold”) to another group.

Creativity exercises played a key role in the workshops, as storyboarding was a new area for almost all participants. The zoom environment made the co-design process even more challenging, as the meetings took place only in a digital environment, and not all the participants were familiar with each other beforehand.

The game outline and main characters were given to the participants ready:

“We are in a digital, undefined future characterized by a modern and technological e-society, in which characters must put to test a series of skills and competences to advance within the story, as well as to complete missions and challenges.

In 20XX, two teenagers, Francis and Paul, live on a school campus with their peers. School as we know it does not exist, there are no classrooms, lectures, or homework. Students reside on campus for about 3/5 years, during which they are assigned real-life challenges that constitute a futuristic form of informal training.

Through their experiences, they acquire skills, knowledge, and school credits. A mentor interacts through a hologram, comments on the experience, and assigns final scores, to certify the acquisition of competence. When students reach a certain level of maturity (knowledge/skills) according to the Mentor’s evaluation, they conclude their learning path.”

The design phases of the digital creativity part of the serious game were:

  • identification of capabilities and their reflection in behavior
  • definition of a scenario (skills and behaviors into a context)
  • creation of a story (events, problems, solutions linked to competence)
  • design the actions of the characters (dialogues, choices, responses)

As a result, a storyboard of digital creativity was created. It included five scenes and each of them consisted of several episodes.

Key takeaways of game storyboarding

Multi-voiced and multi-disciplinary co-creation proved to be a strength in the development work. The participants shared an atmosphere of encouragement to grasp the novel way of doing and developing a learning tool. Their ability to tolerate uncertainty during the co-creation process progressing step by step was meaningful as well. Miro as a virtual learning platform was found insightful for multi-voiced and visible interaction enabling also the connection between the theoretical framework and everyday experiences related to serious games.

Laurea UAS’ culture for research, development and innovation activities applying Learning by Developing (LbD) pedagogical framework offered a solid platform for the co-creation process.

Conclusion

Laurea’s digital creativity storyboard is continuing to find its shape as part of the entire serious game produced in DIG4LIFE project. The serious game is co-designed in multivoiced and multidisciplinary co-operation also on international level. It is co-created in several European countries and in several languages. Various ways of perceiving serious games despite of common theoretical basis and various ways of perceiving co-operation challenge the achievement of coherent outcome. It is exciting to see what the final output created internationally will be.

References:

Board games and videos:

URN http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe2022032324574

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