Over the last few week on the “Introduction to Digital Game-based Learning” module, we have been given numerous opportunities to look at an assortment of games with a view of developing an insight into how they might help with learning. Not only are we grappling with the nebulous concepts of “play”, but also discovering how games could potentially help with the learning process.
One of the outcomes of the module is the opportunity to “play” and make our own connections and synergies between what we experience and that of the games and play literature. The course has offered a number of oppprtunities to play games, such as a treasure hunt in Second Life (I’ll have something to say about that in a future post); creating and play games that make use of Google Earth; and developing a role playing game for Second Life (again, a future post will address this). This week is the turn of the WebQuest, which according to Dodge (1995) is:
…an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet, optionally supplemented with videoconferencing.
I was first introduced to the concept of WebQuest in the “An Introduction to Digital Environments for Learning” module and got to experience one in the “Effective Course Design for e-Learning” module, where Stuart Easter developed a WebQuest as part of his Learning Event. Stuart’s WebQuest went along the lines of finding a “single phrase” that linked the following “names / words / links”:
- Circle Line Party
- Dan Hamill
- A link on Google Earth
- Jane’s Addiction
- London Pillow Fight
A quick Wikipedia search, would have you discover that the answer is flash mob. Hamish Macleod began his WebQuest by asking us to “to discover what notion, or phenomenon, links (by inclusion or exclusion) the following words or phrases”:
- Alice in Wonderland
- Artificial Intelligence
- A lonely girl
- the Bangalore World University
- viral marketing
- a denial
- Michael Douglas
However, the WebQuest wasn’t going to be quite as simple as that as “the solution [was] not merely some potential linkage, but [a] specific linkage that [he had] in mind.” which added a whole different complexity to the quest, which I personally relish – it’s an intellectual pursuit and a battle of wits and minds that have kept the “little grey cells” of humankind engaged since time immemorial.
In many ways the Wiki Paths: The Great Link Race game works on a similar premise of the WebQuest and is part of a genre of games that involves “cracking codes” and “unlocking puzzles” that are in pursuit of “forbidden knowledge”. The new Ron Howard film “Angels and Demons“, a prequel to “The Da Vinci Code“, is currently supported by an online game making use of Photosynth (which in itself is interesting as I will be using Photosynth for my final module assignment) which requires users to try and find clues and symbols to try and unlock the secrets of the Illuminati and shows how Web 2.0 technologies can be used to build engaging and compelling educational games (and not a single person was killed in making these games).
Note: The answer to Hamish’s WebQuest is alternate reality game.
Dodge, B. (1995). Some thoughts about Webquests. [online]. Available at: http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html [Accessed 6 March 2009].