Winning game helps students ask the right questions

The Reading Game

The Reading Game developed at Macquarie University has won the web-based games category of the Educational Games Competition in Berlin. The Competition was held at the 8th European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL), in conjunction with the 5th International Conference on Serious Game Development and Application (SGDA) in Berlin 2014. With 100+ entries from every continent, the Reading Game was also placed 2nd overall in the Competition. The program was designed and developed by Robert Parker from the Macquarie University Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC), with Richard Kroon a games developer.

What is the Reading Game?

The Reading Game is just that – a game about the content of a course. It leverages game mechanics to make the participants’ interactions with the game, fun. To the convenor of a course, however, it is much more. The Reading Game is a crowd-sourcing framework that enables a group of participants to collaboratively create a learning space in which every action serves to introduce, build, or clarify concepts from the course material by asking questions.

The Leaderboard on the Reading Game home page shows only the player above and below you, with details of how you can progress in the rankings and scoring. This is all a player needs to indicate their overall position in the game.The quality of the multiple-choice questions is up to the participants who receive points for their efforts in both asking and answering questions. Participants can also rate and comment on questions, allowing them to directly impact the contents of review quizzes, while activating a secondary reward called ‘stars’ for those participants whose questions are deemed outstanding by their peers.

To start playing the game, you must ASK a QUESTION. This is the primary act in the game.
To start playing the game, you must ASK a QUESTION. This is the primary act in the game.

As the game progresses, participants are offered the opportunity to progress to the next level, which entails asking Open Questions by using their accumulated points. The teacher and their cohort of learners provide the answers to the Open Questions.

ANSWER QUESTIONS lets you see what other students in your class are asking. You can rate them (add karma) and you can comment on them.
ANSWER QUESTIONS lets you see what other students in your class are asking. You can rate them (add karma) and you can comment on them.

The Reading Game is not just a quiz and it is not about literacy, it is about discovery and making you part of the knowledge experience by learning how to formulate and respond to questions.

Value of the Reading Game to Learning

The Reading Game has gone through a number of iterations and has already been introduced into several units of study at Macquarie University so far with very positive results (Parker, R.L., Manuguerra, M. & Schaefer, B.F. 2013). This game can be introduced into any unit of study, both as an efficiency tool for teachers and as an engaging learning activity for students. It has the potential to change the way a curriculum is designed for online delivery. It also has the potential to change the experience of learners constructing knowledge.

QUESTION COMMENTS is an opportunity to reflect on what the class is asking. You can comment on questions if you want to clarify and help others write better questions to drive the game forward.
QUESTION COMMENTS is an opportunity to reflect on what the class is asking. You can comment on questions if you want to clarify and help others write better questions to drive the game forward.

With the increased use of the game in many more and varied learning and teaching environments, collecting and analysing the course and game analytics to study the impact of the game on learning and assessment and conduct surveys for the qualitative analysis, has grown significantly. This is already being looked at for the next round of development, once funding can be sourced.

The Reading Game was initially developed as a Faculty Partnership Program project between the LTC and the Faculty of Science.  Further development was supported by a competitive grant from the Education Studio’s Innovation and Scholarship Program and a Teaching Development grant. Read more about the project here (PDF, 4.1MB), or contact Robert Parker (robert.parker@mq.edu.au).

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