Is learning about copyright as simple as noughts and crosses?

Greg Walters is the Learning Technologist based at the University of Glasgow (UoG) Library. He has been involved in the e-learning sector since 2005 and developed a range of under and post graduate online courses for the Higher Education and commercial sectors. Part of Greg’s role at UoG has involved developing and communicating rights management policies and procedures to support online learning development at the University of Glasgow, specifically relating to Blended and Online Learning Development (BOLD) initiatives and MOOCs. Greg got in touch with us about his research for his masters on copyright and games and his plans for a prototype online version of Copyright the Card Game. Greg writes…..

We’ve all heard about applying game based learning to teach Copyright, haven’t we? Within game based learning there are two main areas of delivery: face-to-face and online/digital. Chris and Jane have used their excellent Copyright the Card Game and newly released ‘The Publishing Trap’ to teach copyright literacy to face-to-face participants across the HE and library sectors. Both have been well received and highlight that game based learning can be fun, engaging and can generate conversation between participants. Despite the success in face-to-face delivery, we still have the unexplored area of using online or digital formats to deliver game based copyright training which is something I’ll be exploring with you over the next few paragraphs.

Like most people my exposure to games has been through board games, the occasional Lego-based games workshop or my PlayStation. Due to my involvement in the e-learning industry I became aware of ‘gamification’ which is applying game based techniques in non-game contexts and serious games, which are in-depth simulations of real life scenarios. These areas of game based learning intrigued me as it made me appreciate how many different types of game based learning there are. Due to my interest in this area I chose to research academic, library and learning technology staff attitude to copyright literacy being taught through online game based learning as the focus of my MSc dissertation.

My research involved University of Glasgow (UoG) staff participants interacting with different types of online game based examples. The UoG participants who were from academic, library and learning technology backgrounds interacted with a total of five different types of online games and then filled out an online questionnaire which gathered quantitative and qualitative data. The findings of my research revealed that the type of game which offered participants the best learning opportunity was the use of scenarios. A scenario based game could incorporate the two most popular types of game based elements which were; real life scenarios with relatable examples and branching questions which provide answers to copyright related questions. In relation to the participants attitudes towards competition, the data revealed they were not interested in competing against one other, i.e. a leader board or trying to beat someone else’s score. The final area of interest the data revealed was that graphics and animation can influence a person’s perception of the quality of learning and authority of content within a game based learning object.

I am currently in the process of developing a series of online games focused on teaching specific areas of copyright literacy, which incorporate the findings taken from my MSc. Aside from developing my own set of games I have been collaborating with Chris and Jane on adapting their card game for an online audience. I produced a demo version of the online card game and sent the link for this to Chris and Jane. This led to a productive Skype chat with them, which highlighted key areas that require further development and/or will be challenging to emulate in an online environment. The first challenging area identified was of trying to emulate the discussion that is generated in face-to-face sessions. This area is a key component as discussions can lead to the exchange of ideas and knowledge. In an effort to emulate this, the object makes use of Padlet (online software which looks like a notice board). Despite people being able to post their thoughts and ideas in relation to a particular round within the game, there was no one present to guide or facilitate the conversation in this online format. This form of communication may have to be adapted for the online medium. Instead of chat being synchronous it may have become asynchronous and more of a reflective nature. In contrast to the broad strokes of communication within the object, it became apparent the scenarios and information presented had to be both detailed and explicit. The face-to-face sessions benefit from having a person to lead discussion or add further explanation to scenarios, but this is harder to emulate online. One possible solution for his could be to have more detailed explanations in scenarios and include characters to add relatable figures as with The Publishing Trap. I am currently working on a new version of the copyright card game that will hopefully address these issues and I look forward to see where this takes me.

My hope is to produce a series of game based learning objects focused on which can be distributed online. I’m looking forward to see where game based learning can take us in relation to teaching copyright literacy.

A link to my online dissertation can be found here. I really hope I might get to share some of my ideas next April at the Icepops event that Jane and Chris are organising.


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