A Case of High Engagement: Applying immersive online gaming to History research skills.

Alex Moseley
University of Leicester, UK

This paper will present a case study for the use of features derived from immersive online games within a core academic course. The underlying pedagogic theory will be briefly outlined, with the main focus of the paper describing the case study and reflecting on the results and feedback. Particular emphasis will be placed on the innovative assessment methods used.Responding to a need within a first-year undergraduate History module to improve take-up and engagement by students of the critical analysis and filtering of internet-based historical resources, the innovative Great History Conundrum project used paradigms from online social networks and immersive online alternative reality games to create a four-week long activity based in problem solving, collaboration and competitive play. Through the solution of a number of puzzles of varying difficulty, high level searching, filtering and criticism skills were taught. Collaboration and reflection were encouraged through the use of discussion forums and the construction of a collective wiki (a resource the students will be able to use throughout the rest of their degree) , and carefully constructed assessment criteria encouraged and assessed engagement with the activity and concepts. The activity additionally served to develop a community of practice early in the undergraduate course, hence improving engagement and performance in the wider academic context.Following the first successful iteration of the course where detailed data and feedback was collected, these results and feedback will be presented, along with reflection on the course's successes and failures, changes planned for the coming year, and plans for wider distribution across the institution. Implications for wider applicability will hopefully be discussed within resulting questions from the audience.This project has been generously supported by the Fund for New Teaching Initiatives, University of Leicester.Moseley, A. (2008), An Alternative Reality for Higher Education? Lessons to be learned from online reality games. Conference paper presented at ALT-C 2008, Leeds, UK, 9-11th September 2008. Available: http://moerg.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/moseley2008a.pdf