There is a phenomenon taking place in higher education today. It is nothing short of a revolution regarding the advances in technology and how institutions of higher learning along with nontraditional organizations are utilizing powerful new tools to change the delivery of higher education . These new tools include new mobile devices, enhanced and feature-rich learning management systems, data-feeding sensors, 3D printers, smart classrooms, smart buildings, and collaboration tools allowing students and faculty to collaborate just about anywhere face-to-face, virtually.
Based on the literature regarding games, gaming, gamification, game-based learning, and serious games, several clear trends emerge:
Gaming and gamification in the sense of game-based learning is about using games and game-like tactics in the education process, for greater engagement and better learning outcomes. However, this is only the first level of such initiative. The second and higher level is about involving students in the game-building and gamification of the learning process (as per Vygotsky’s Zone of…) thus achieving student-centered and experiential learning.
When hosting games and gaming in any library, “in-person” or electronic/online games are welcome but not sufficient to fulfill their promise, especially in an academic library. Per (1), an academic library has the responsibility to involve students and guide them in learning how to engage in the building process required in true game-based learning.
Game-based learning, gaming and gamification in particular, in educational (academic library) settings must consider mobile devices and the BYOD movement in particular as intrinsic parts of the entire process. Approaching the initiative primarily by acquiring online “in-person” games, or game consoles has the same limited educational potential as only hosting games, rather than elevating the students to full guided engagement with game-based learning. If public relations and raised profile are the main goals for the academic library, such an approach is justified. If the academic library seeks to maximize the value of game-based learning, then the library must consider: a. gaming consoles, b. mobile devices as part of a BYOD initiative and c. cloud-based / social games, such as MineCraft, SimCity etc.
Design for game-based learning, gaming and gamification in educational (academic library) settings must include multiple forms of assessment and reward, e.g. badges, leaderboards and/or certificates as an intrinsic part of the entire process. Merely hosting games in the academic library cannot guarantee true game-based learning. The academic library, as the forefront of a game-based learning initiative on campus, must work with faculty on understanding and fine tuning badges and similar new forms of assessment and reward, as they effectively implement large scale game-based learning, focused on the students’ learning gains.
Recommendations for LRS
In regard to LRS, the gaming and gamification process must be organized and led by faculty, including housing and distributing the hardware, software and applications, when needed.
The attached paper and the respective conclusions summarized in four points demand educational and experiential background, which is above the limits of the LRS staff. In addition, the LRS staff has clearly admitted that the pedagogical value of gaming and gamification is beyond their interest. This recommendation is not contradicting to the fact and opportunity for LRS staff to participate in the process and contribute to the process; it just negates the possibility of staff mandating and leading the process, since it will keep the gaming and gamification process on a very rudimentary level.
The process must be further led by faculty with a terminal degree in education (Ph.D.) and experience in the educational field, since, as proved by the attached paper and 4 point conclusion, the goal is not a public-library type of hosting activities, but rather involving students in a pedagogically-sound creative process, with the respective opportunity for assessment and future collaboration with instructors across campus. This recommendation is not contradicting the fact and opportunity for LRS library faculty to participate actively in the process and contribute to the process. It just safeguards from restricting the process to the realm of “public-library” type of hosting activities, but failing to elevate them to the needs of an academic campus and connecting with instructors across campus.
This conclusions adhere to and are derived from the document recommended by the LRS dean, discussed and accepted by LRS faculty in 2013 about new trends and directions in academic libraries, namely diversification of LRS faculty; breaking from the traditional library mold of including faculty from different disciplines with different opinions and ideas.