During the previous years, technology has infiltrated in the daily lives of a great number of people. During this revolution, teachers and instructional designers have been introduced with a variety of new tools, such as computers, tablets, interactive tabletops and surfaces, augmented and virtual reality kits, etc. Consequently, schools, institutions, and informal learning areas had to take these changes and new tools into consideration in order to create immersive experiences for their students. In addition, the use of play in these learning spaces has been of great interest for researchers, since video games are presented as an interesting tool for the creation of immersive learning experiences.
The role of space, its aesthetics and pedagogic use play an important role in the learning process, since it seems to have an impact on the delivery of knowledge, the development of cognitive skills and the motivation of both teachers and student to be part of the learning process. Serious+ is an approach on the design of technology assisted learning spaces, based on gaming. This approach bring students in the center of learning by giving the freedom to decide which activities they want to participate in, making them more motivated to learn, while working on collaborative environments.
Since a great part of the learning process takes place in classrooms or other learning areas, the design and implementation of technology assisted learning spaces is of great interest for researchers. However, the design of these areas requires a multidisciplinary approach, where a variety of specialists need to cooperate in order to create the optimum learning experiences.
According to research, the interaction of material and non-material elements of a defined space, associates it with attitudes, values, social representations, standards and other parameters that contribute to the development of the students’ behavior. According to, learning spaces have an impact on social interactions and dynamics of students but also on their relationships with material objects, spatial representations and context related with the space-representation.
While designing learning experiences at Maskott, it becomes more and more obvious that you cannot implement and facilitate a full learning experience without taking into account the space where learning takes place. Space is essential both for game design and instructional design and this is the reason why the team finally decided to restructure the area where the gaming learning experiences would take place. The result of this ongoing discussion was Serious+.
Serious+ is a cross-platform educational environment, based on gaming, which was designed with emphasis on the use of space as a tool for facilitating the learning process, the encouragement of collaborative learning and the element of freedom to choose an activity, depending on students’ preferences.
The environment consists of a set of different games, around the same learning field. During a Serious+ session, space is divided in independent places, facilitating a specific game. Each place can be occupied by a specific number of players at a given point. The environment offers two different approaches in its use:
- Students are free to switch between places at any time they wish, giving them the freedom to select their most preferable game at a given time, as long as the number of players per place does not exceed the maximum number of players.
- Students form groups and perform rotations among the different games at specific times. Through this approach, they have the opportunity to play and test a variety of gaming places and see which games they prefer.
During gaming sessions, players are encouraged to work in teams and observe their peers. Observation can be related either to peers of the same group or peers of other groups, playing different games. Serious+ offers the possibility to player groups to act collaboratively, competitively or independently, allowing the existence of different social and gaming dynamics.
Serious+ consists of 5 games targeting pre-algebraic patterning, all of which were designed for different platforms and interfaces in order to create a multimodal environment where students have the freedom to choose the activity they prefer. The results of introducing Serious+ showed a positive impact on students’ mathematical cognitive skills and are going to be presented on an upcoming article.