The research and development (R&D) department of eXact learning solutions has been working on developing a technology-enhanced learning (TEL) environment based on serious games that supports individuals’ rapid competence development within the domain of project management.
This work is part of the ‘Transformative, Adaptive, Responsive and enGaging EnvironmenT’ (TARGET) EU project (www.reachyourtarget.org), which aims to research, analyse and develop a new genre of TEL environment.
As a technical partner in the TARGET project, eXact learning solutions’ R&D department is supporting learning via reflection, through the Competence Performance Analyzer (CPA). This tool allows learners to review their learning experiences by presenting the playback as a video recording along with a graph which, synchronously, assesses each learner’s performance and depicts their competences’ scores. The TARGET platform consists of a set of advanced tools and services. The learner faces complex situations in the form of game scenarios and interacts with these results in enriched experiences, leading to knowledge acquisition.
TARGET provides learners with three scenarios:
- Stakeholder Management – training for complex and controversial decision situations; promoting understanding of the importance of external communication in projects and dealing with involved stakeholders;
- Social Architect – stimulating learning about how a project manager establishes a project team as a self-governing social system where all team members have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and are committed to the project;
- Sustainable Global Manufacturing – performing a lifecycle assessment (LCA) in a global manufacturing enterprise which is producing household machinery, such as coffee machines.
TARGET separates the learning process in four phases:
- Plan – when the learners decide their desired learning outcome in the form of a set of competences. This leads to the creation of an individual learning plan.
- Execution – the learner selects and then enacts a role within a Story, resulting in a learning experience. While engaged with the Story, the system provides an environment where the learner engages with other characters (controlled by another learner or by a ‘non-player character’) and the environment. These decisions change the context of the Story. During a Story, the system monitors the learner’s actions, taking into account the desired learning outcomes – and, if necessary, making changes to the Story.
- Reflection – after the learner’s Story experience has ended, the learner receives an assessment of competence in the form of a timeline. Referencing the assessment at each point during the learning experience allows the learner to reflect on and thus evaluate his/her performance.
- Repertoire Building – through reflection and via engagement with others.
Comment: Increasing global competition for skilled workers is prompting organisations to accept the need to retain and re-train their existing staff via tailored programmes that reduce the ‘time-to-competence’ (TTC) for each learner. The role of serious games in this process has often been championed but, so far, hasn’t become ‘popular’ – for both technological and business reasons. This piece of research – allied to the current challenging economic climate, with European economies under increasing pressure in global markets – might well advance the cause of serious games.