What are serious games and why are they useful in practice learning?
Put in simple words, any digital game which is not merely used for fun is a serious games. Very often, such games are used in education, training, advertising, etc. Computer games are catchy, involving and with the ease offered by modern digital devices they are gradually becoming more common in various learning contexts. In such cases they are seen as increasing learners’ motivation, encouraging a problem-solving approach to learning, helping to retain more information among other beneficial effects.
Digital games can be particularly useful in pre-service and on-the-job training when it is important to provide a risk-free environment for learners to practise certain job-related skills.
What is the Tiny Oaks 3D Simulated Practice Environment?
It is a serious game designed by subject matter experts in childhood practice. The game was developed as a 3D practice learning environment, which focuses on a morning session at a nursery from the arrival of children with their parents/carers, through the children participating in various activities until they are collected by their parent/carer. The player takes on the role of a childhood practitioner and navigates the 3D nursery environment to deal with one or more scenarios running at the same time to give a realistic idea of what childhood practitioners have to cope with in a nursery setting. The game is available in several languages (English, Italian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Finnish, German and French). It was finalised and piloted under the Digital Bridges project (2014-1-UK01-KA200-001805).
To learn more about the Digital Bridges project, go to http://digital-bridges.eu/.
What are the lessons from piloting the Tiny Oaks with Further Education/Higher Education students and trainee nursery workers across Europe?
A pre-test and a post-test were run during the pilot of the game in several different countries in 2015-2016 (UK, Italy, Lithuania, Finland and Bulgaria). The survey results prove that there is definitely a positive attitude to learning through simulation games and that the Tiny Oaks game helped the piloting students/professionals to reach a greater awareness of their own knowledge and skills in addition to a general enhancement of their digital skills.