Mobile Educational Rallye & The Bremen Adventure

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  • 1. MobileEducationalRallye &The BremenAdventure

2. MobileEducationalRallye &The BremenAdventureAdvanced Topics in Media InformaticsMobile LearningDennis Krannich & Saeed ZareUni Bremen - WiSe 08/09Jan Smeddinck (Uni Bremen - 1976868)Thamya Moreira Rocha (Hochschule fr Knst - 30249)Lew Palm (Uni Bremen - 1466562)Jasmin EckardtDate: 28th February 2009 3. Keywordsmobile, learning, game, education, cellphone, usability, future, java, j2me,rallye, bremen, children, school AbstractThe "Schnitzelunt" game was developed during the "Mobile Learning" class atthe University of Bremen in 2008. It supplies a framework for adventure-files(xml) that are to be created in an online-toolkit (web-app), so that scavengerhunts can be set up without being on-site (using knowledge about the targetlocation and any available media). The application currently includes a smallexample ralley about the history of the city of Bremen, Germany. 4. Contents:1 Introduction2 Project Description2.1 idea & concept2.2 rallye structure2.3 sample adventure3 Paedagogic Discussion4 Technical Implementation4.1 plattaforms4.2 adventure files4.3 source code5 Usability Test5.1 test setup5.2 test & results5.3 feedback & findings6 Conclusion7 Attachments 5. 1 IntroductionNowadays, many high school classes are still stuck in book and projector teaching for all kinds oftopics, ragning from how our cells work to architecture in the city. Excursions with students andteachers, visits to museums or computer labs are methods commonly used to break the rhythm ofclasses and make the students more interested.Mobile learning techniques should be more commonly integrated into daily school programs,because they can raise motivation and interest in the students and provide alternative learningmethods. Therefore: Why not employ a context that the students are already used to; like gameadventures?The idea was to build an outdoor game (scavenger hunt / rallye [German: Schnitzeljagd]) forpupils, which enables them to learn about history in personal experience at the original places,supported by mobile devices. This could be advantageous compared to learning from books or inthe class room, because of the direct contact with the subject matter and the playful approach. Inthis game, the players are motivated through adapted recurring types of challenges.The game starts with the player (or group of players) walking to a defined starting point. There, heor she gets (educational) information about the place from the gaming device, as well as a initialquestion they are asked to answer. The riddle can only be solved by investigating the area. A correctanswer must be entered in the device and leads to the next place. This procedure replays there andleads to the next place and so on. One place can offer the possibility to choose one of severalpotentially following story nodes, so that the story must not be linear and similar for every player.The students by themselves, or together with others in groups, are responsible for the learningoutcome. After the adventure is completed the teacher is able to check what the students learnedfrom the experience.On the next pages, more details about the concept, idea and the application itself will be discussed.The first idea for an adventure and how it works with modularized nodes, will be desccribed, asllwell as the structure for the navigation. The technical specifications and how the node systemworks will also be explained in details.The last paragraph of this paper will detail a usability test with a short sample adventure that wascarried out with the prototype of the mobile learning game described above. The questions that theusability test was setup to answer where: (1) Does the node structure function properly to guide theparticipants thorugh the rallye, without them getting lost?(2) Does the game support learning of explicit game content and maybe even implicit, contextualinformation?These questions mind, we expect the reliability and rate of success of the rallye to rely heavily onthe quality of the individual adventures, since we merely provide a very flexible and open structureframework. Nevertheless, it can be expected that users will be able to learn a lot while playingadventures, because learning subjects come into tangible, real-world reach and users must engagepersonally and apply multi-strategy problem-solving in order to complete the adventures.1 6. 2 Project Description 2.1 idea & conceptThe idea for the game started with the observation that schools could offer more attractive andimmersive classes for the students. Teaching history as a subject could easily be less dull, if it waspossible to use real world experiences, instead of staring at pictures in a book. Students would bemore motivated walking around historical places while learning about their importance. A guidedoutdoor learning possibility can be expected to motivate especially the young students to takeinitiative and improve the exchange of information between them. A scavenger hunt, running onthe cell phones of the students of a classroom could mean fun and also easy learning. Another greatadvantage of the concept lies in the fact that adventures can be composed by any author withenough knowledge of the location at home, without visiting all the places and leaving marks thatmight accidentaly be removed.The following scenario will give an impression of how the game could be used in a school setting: It is Monday morning and Dennis wakes up late at 6:40 and quickly goes running to school. The lesson starts on 7:00 and the history teacher will probably already be in the classroom. Being late on a Monday is not a good start for the week ... especially when you are a sleepy 7th grade teenager and will probably receive a tardy. Entering the classroom, Dennis notices that it is mobile Abbildung 1: Marktplatz, Bremen (http://www.big-learning day! Evidently, he wont escape the tardy, buthaving a mobile learning day ahead quickly puts him back in a good mood, eager to gettingstarted with the adventure that lies ahead. Together with the other students, he gets out hiscell phone and starts downloading the task of the day. Today the class will learn about thehistory of the city they live in: Bremen.2 7. After finishing their rallye, the students gather back at the school and immediately start to compare their scores. The teacher then asks every small group to present what they learned during the adventure to roundup the day.Being more than just a guided tour, the learningmaterial in the mobile application can be all kindsof media (audio, images, video & text).The adventures can be planned by teachers inadvance and be shared through an onlineplatform. The structure of the rallye isconceptualized as sequential steps, wherestudents learn from one point to the otherfollowing historical facts, or architectural andspatial characteristics. They are guided by the Abbildung 2: The "Roland"ztasks and have their position / progress checkedby giving right/wrong answers about their current location. Because of this simpleapproach, the game does not depend on geo positioning systems and can therefore beplayed with current standard phones. Designed as a support for traditional lessons inschools, the rallye is targeted at students between 10-16 years, but could be played byanyone that is used to handling a mobile phone. 2.2 rallye structureThe rallye must have a clear and functional structure to guide the learning process with the mobileapplication. The learning material is split into nodes and the users have to complete one to go tothe next one. Each node covers one specific topic and can contain a variety of media to provide theinformation. The node-framework is very open and allows for normal question and answer nodeswith different kinds of answer types (text entry, multiple choice selection, image selection, taking apicture of a certain target, etc.), aswell as for purely informational nodes.The starting point for the scavenger hunt is common for all adventures examples. Every new taskstarts with a short introduction and a hint to the location that the children have to find in order tobegin. This step is called info point (IP). After each node, a riddle checks whether the children areat the right place. This is called check point (CP). It is followed by a step called learning point(LP) in which important aspects about monuments and their history are explained. In the end, theknowledge is checked by a riddle called knowledge point (KP). This riddle is always followed by ashort explanation to strengthen the knowledge. Sometimes children also have to ask passengers tofind a certain answer. This is called question point (QP). At the end of a sequence, children have to3 8. decide which direction they want to chose next in order to discover a certain topic. This is calleddecision point (DP) and it allows adventures to branch and create non-linear game experiences.2.3 sample adventureThe Bremen History AdventureWith its potential for enriching traditional classes, the game could be part of local historical lessonsin school. For the sample adventure, the old History of Bremen will be uncovered trough thescavenger tasks. The pupils can better integrate the facts during the game in their already existingconceptions, when they have some previous knowledge about the topic.The history of Bremen covers two important aspects that are crucial for understanding theimpact and influence of the city in former times. First of all Bremen was part of the Hanse andfurthermore it was a free hanseatic city. Those aspects are still visible in the name of the city as itis called Freie Hansestadt Bremen. The goal of the game is to find out from which historical factsthis name is derived.On the market place of Bremen there are several monuments depicting the history of the city. Forthis reason, we will start our scenario on the market place which has always been the center oftrade and politics in the history of Bremen. The middle of the market place is decorated by aHanseatic Cross. Since the lines of this cross point directly at several important monuments, thiswill be our starting point for every new scenario.Here is an example of a sequence of nodes covering the topic Foundation of Bremen.The sequence is composed by main nodes (1,2 and 3) that leads to check points (CP)and to history knowledge points (KP). 4 9. This is another example about the topic Liberty of Bremen. The starting point is the same as the othersequence, but the sequence ends out differently.Example adventure script:Info Point:Information: Since 1815 Bremen is called Free Hanseatic City ofBremen. The construction of the Vegesack Harbor and the WeserRiver allowed a strong trade tradition in the city. In this rally youand your friends will learn about Bremen walking around the cityand observing its historical monuments.(The game starts with a short introduction explainingthat Bremen is called Freie Hansestadt Bremen andthat it is the goal of the game to find out what thismeans.)Check Point:Question: Do you know what a hanseatic cross looks like? Choosethe right answer. Answers: 4 images, 1 is right (Feedback: Right answer, good job! + score)(The first riddle of the game is to find the HanseaticCross in the middle of the market place. To confirm thatthe children are at the right place, they have to select the Abbildung 3: Image selectionright image out of four images depicting several types ofanswer modezcrosses.) 5 10. Learning Point:Information: In 1915 the three Hanseatic cities Bremen, Lbeck and Hamburg, created adecoration for bravery and war merit. Medals of the Hanseatic Cross were given as reward to theones that fighted in World War One.(A short explanation is given about the meaning of the Hanseatic Cross and theHanse in general.)Knowledge Point:Question: Take a look in the facades of the buildings in this square. Can you identify two elementsthat are correlated with the harbor tradition of Bremen? Answers: (Neptune, Poseidon, Boat, Ship, Fish)Now the children have to look around the place and find some elements in the top ofthe buildings that confirm the hanseatic tradition. They have to type in the names ofat least two of the three elements.Information Point:Information: You acted bravely, completing this task! Go back to the Hanseatic Cross.Decision Point:Decision: Now is the moment to go further! For witch challenge you choose?Answers: (Old myths, Bremen liberty, Fight for power)(After this introduction the children can now decide which part of the history theywant to explore. For discovering the political history they can turn to the city hall,and to learn more about the hanseatic history, etc.)First example scenario: Old MythsAs example scenario, we decided to let the children explore the symbols and the foundation of thecity and therefore start with Roland, Bremens symbol of liberty. In the following the pointsexpress the instructions the children have to follow.Information Point:Information: In the medieval times, some German cities were fighting for independence. Bearingthe "sword of justice" and a shield with an imperial eagle, the Roland became the symbol ofbraveness and liberty for those cities.Check Point:Question: Go to the symbol of Liberty of Bremen. Write its name.Answer: RolandLearning Point:Information: Roland, built in 1404, is located in front of the town hall. It looks directly at thedome, reminding the church of the new beholders of political power (the emperor).The meaning of the statue is explained, e.g. why it is a symbol of freedom. A shortintroduction on the struggle between emperor and archbishop is given.6 11. Knowledge Point:Information: On the emblem at the front of Roland you find the declaration of independence ofthe city of Bremen.Question Point:Question: What was the name of the king responsible for the Bremen Independence?Answer: Karl, der grosseIf the student gives a wrong answer, or just cant answer the question,there is the hint available:Hint Point:Information: His first name is written in the emblem on the Rolands shield.Answer: Karl, der grosseDecision Point:Decision: Now is the moment to go further! Which challenge you choose?Answers: (Old myths, Bremen liberty, Fight for power)This example was made do demonstrate both the possible structure of an adventure and the type oflearning content. While the specific topic could as well have been architecture, or politics, thelearning environment and methods supported by the game remain the same.7 12. 3 Paedagogic DiscussionThe game we propose in this paper is a progressive learning tool with its strong focus onexploration and demands in communication and creative problem solving. While the answers arescripted, as they refer to facts in the environment, students always have to find their own way tothe solve the questions. They do so outdoors, in touch with the learning material and with allsenses involved, taking responsibility to what they learn from such an ?adventure?.In these terms, the game supports constructivist learning, as [c]onstructivism, like objectivism,holds that there is a real world that we experience. However, the argument is that meaning isimposed on the world by us, rather than existing in the world independently of us. There are manyways to structure the world, and there are many meanings or perspectives for any event orconcept. (Duffy & Jonassen, 1992, p. 3) 1Students in general can be separated into four types of learners: auditory, visual, motoric andcommunicative persons (Pohl 1996)2. Of course, people are always partly all of the four and justhave one way that works best, while the other channels may support the learning process.Computer games and also our mobile game are great to exploit this, because they can address allfour channels at once with their multi-media capabilitiesand multi-player implementations.Furthermore, it has been shown that learning withcombined senses is more efficient than with singled outsenses, as Wolfgang Pohl reports:Learning through senses (% quote of memorization): hearing only 20% seeing only 30% hearing and seeing 50% hearing, seeing & discussing 70% hearing, seeing, discussion & do-it-yourself 90% (Pohl 1996)The game fully supports the last multi-sensual group. Furthermore, it is designed to arousemotivation in different concurrent ways: The adventures are challenging and there is a competitivenotion between single players and/or player groups. The scores can be read and compared and thegame has a no-loose-policy in that wrong answers only reduce positive points and always result in ahint being offered to avoid the player getting stuck. This refers precisely to the four methods ofcreating motivation in video games as stated by Chris Crawford (Crawford 1982)3.1 Duffy, T. M.; Jonassen, D. H. (1992): Construktivism and the Technology of Instruction. AConversation. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.2 Pohl, W. (1996): Das Lernenlernen. URL: Juni2006)3 Crawford, C. (1982): The Art of Computer Game Design. URL: Electronic Revision by Sue Peabody,Department of History, Washington State University Vancouver 1997 (Abruf: 20. Juni2006)8 13. 4 Technical Implementation 4.1 platformsOur game engine should run on many different mobile devices, but we had mobile phones in mind as thetarget platform. Nearly everyone from our target group (and everyone else) has such an apparatus in his orher pocket; that is why the hardware base is no problem for our software.One software interpreter works on all of these devices: Java ME (Micro Edition)4. Hence, we used JME forthe whole engine programming. But there is a minor flaw - the view differs a little on every machine. For theactual prototype we focused on our private phones and the phone emulator from the Sun Java WirelessToolkit (WTK)5 and ignored display bugs on other devices.A solution for this would be an applications changeover to the usage of the J2ME Polish library6.A subversion repository from Google is in use as version control system. The projects homepage is You can check out the actual revision viasvn checkout schnitzelhunt-read-onlyWe chose GPL v3 as license for the source code. We did this because we hope that our project is useful forsomebody and may be developed further on after the end of the semester. 4.2 adventure filesTechnically speaking, we wrote a game engine (and some little example games). For playing one needs theengine package (consisting of compiled Java code) and one or more game packages. Game packages containthe game itself as an XML-file and media files (pictures, sounds and little movies). XML as a format hasmany advantages for game files. It is easily readable and writeable by humans with a simple editor. It canalso be processed by other programs, composed in a web frontend, etc. We used an existing XML parser the lightweight Xparse-J7 by Michael Claen to read the adventure information and transform it into code-objects.Such a file must have two parts: one info-section with general informations about the adventure (name,author and so on) and the rallye-section, which consists of several game nodes.Example info-section from the adventure bremen_history.xml:The Bremen AdventureBremen, GermanyJasmin, Jan, Lew, Thamya04. February 2009freehanseatic4 9 14. citybremenrolandgamehistory In this rally you and your friends will learn about Bremen by walking around the city and observing its historical monuments. Try better next time!One of the many game nodes in this file looks like this: Standing on the hanseatic cross take a look at the facades of the buildings. Can you identify an element related to Bremens harbor tradition? containerneptunecranefishOne node can have different kinds of informations or questions. This is a text-selection-node, which meansthat there is one question and some possible textual answers. An answer can be wrong (gives a malus for thereachable score in this node) or right, which leads to another node. In this case the answers neptune orfish are moving the player to the node story_descision. If fish is the first choice, the player gets 12points. If he/she choses container first and then fish, this results in only 8 points.The whole Bremen-history adventure is available in the Googlecode-repository in the directory res. 10 15. 4.3 source codeToday our project has 1667 lines of code and consists of 6 files (and classes):,,,, and main program - SchnitzelMIDlet is a Midlet, a Java application for small devices. It handles thedisplay-related routines, graphics and user input. Also it takes care of the welcome and game selection screenand loads the user-chosen adventure.AdventureLoader is used for loading and parsing of the XML files. Therefore, it uses the Xparse-J library. Itputs the game structures in the right objects in memory.Adventure holds all data of one game. It has a container of game nodes. The adventure class has a bit morefunctionality it knows about the users position in the game and his or her score, and it handles the usersselection of an answer and its consequences.GameNode contains data and methods of a node. It has a container of Solution objects, which arerepresenting the different choices a user can make.Logger has methods for logging messages to a file and the console (while running in the emulator).Furthermore, we created a full source code documentation and reference, which is attatched to this paper. 11 16. 5 Usability Test 5.1 test setupAnother,very shortsample adventure wasdesigned for testing theviability and the efficiencyof the rallye. A fiew taskswere planned to becompletedintheUniversity of Bremen,GW2building,inaccordance with the nodesstructurefromtheHistory of BremenAdventure,butwithmodified content.In the usability was anorganized session withtwo live runs. Six participants divided in two groups received one cell phone each, with the rallyeinstalled. Before starting the game, the participants had to answer a pre-survey with questionsabout their habits in cell phone usage and gaming experience (see attachment 01). Following the groups, there was a observer with each participant. This observer took notes of every movement of the users gameplay: the doubts, comments and unexpected reactions. The people tested were not supposed to talk with the observers, but with the technical advisor that was also following them. Any question was supposed to be answered by this advisor only. The testing time was around 15 minutes for both groups. They wereencouraged to work together and help each other out.Abbildung 4: Two users trying to discover an answer in theboard plan of the GW2 building. They were working in group,discussing the answers while the observers watched theiractions.12 17. After finishing the run, theparticipants were asked to answer apost survey. They had to answerquestions about their perception ofthe game and some furtherquestions tested the explicit andimplicit learning content (seeattachment 02).5.2 test & resultsThe pre and post surveys of theusability test, together with theremarks made by the observers andthe advisors, made it possible toAbbildung 5: By the end of the text the users had to discover thecollect valuable information.answer for a puzzle in the environment. After that they saw theirfinal scores.Considering that mostly all thepeople tested had close contact with new media issues, just 2 answered that they were heavy cellphone users. Half of the group (three users) answered that they used to play games with the cellphone.In the Post-Survey, there were two indirect questions about the environment of the rallye. For thefirst question, two participants answered right and for the other there were 3 right answers.Everyone had fun with the game but when asked about the efficiency of it in a bigger proportion,some points, like the group dynamics, were questioned.The observers of the group tested could point some critics:- Some participants complained about the amount of text in the first task.- Some started to read the next tasks before completing the previous.- Two users completed tasks before the others and had to wait for the group.- Two users requested hints in the last task of the rally.- Three users gave some wrong and a right answers by try-and-error.- Some users found the way to the right answers with help of the group.5.3 feedback & findingsAfter the usability test, with the notes and appointments made by the observers and the advisors,some important aspects were noticed. The test was carried out with the real application running onmobile phones and allowed for a realisitc user experience trial.The group was encouraged to work always together. Except for one person, it was a successfulexperience, since all the participants were discussing the tasks and proceeding together.The interface was used without problems by everybody but one user. Considering that some peoplecomplained about the amount of text and some, just before finishing to read the text started to goto the next task, it is clear that the volume of text has to be carefully planned. It is not just about the13 18. amount of text but all the adventure should be carefully designed to make the learning flow of thegame continuous. The instructions should be clear and hints always available.The participants were asked about some unrelated information surrounding the rallye way. Someparticipants could remember and answered the questions correctly. The potential of learning alsoabout the context could be really useful in the real world application of the game.The individual scoring was very motivating to the players. Each user worked together with othersbut had individual grades, related to the individual learning experience. To prevent a try-and-errorattitude in choosing the answers, the points for each question would decrease with wrong answers.It was possible to see that after each answer or by comparing the final scores with the otherparticipants.It could be noticed that all the participants had fun, which they also reported in the surveys.Everybody could complete the adventure and exchanged the final scores in an enthusiastic way.After the experience, everyone answered in the survey that rallyes like this would be a goodsupplement for traditional learning methods. Abbildung 6: The sample adventure used in GW2 bulding had examples of answers with pictures to choose. 14 19. 6 ConclusionWe wanted to do a complete working prototype, and we did it. In fact it is more, it is a workingsystem and can be used for learning and playing today. We believe that constructivist education isthe most effective (and fun) way of learning and we wanted to make a tool to supports this.The usability testing showed how much fun most of the people (at least students) have playingrallies with a mobile device.We saw some minor problems with the menu structure, of which we had known before and thatwere difficult to fix, because of strange behaviours of Java on some special types of mobile phones.It was much more challenging for us to learn about right adventure design than about the technicalparts of the project. One has to be mindful about many details in order to create a well working anduseful adventure, always avoiding to confuse or disorient the players, but keeping the adventurechallening.Also, it is necessary to give an aggressive feedback (a warning about lost score) for wrong choices toprevent try-and-error strategies, which we implemented after noticing this problem.It was a surprise to see how important the scoring was for most of the players. Many asked howthey came off in comparison to others (or the respective maximum score). This is why weintegrated more messages about scores in the game, so that players have a quicker feedback tochoices they make and are hopefully more motivated to find the right answer.It was also noteable that team-work was much more efficient than solo play. Groups solvedproblems much faster and were higher motivated. This is an evidence for the accuracy ofconstructivist methods and ideas in the rallye project. It would be great to encourage the team-work on a technical base (on the mobile device, e.g. with multiplayer score results), too.The game is truly constructivist, because the player acts in reality and there is no rule or strictpathway how to get the answers and to unravel the questions.There were other mobile phone scavenger hunts, but mostly simple sales and marketing campaignslike the "Starbucks Summer Pursuit"8 in 2006.In a learning context, our idea was discussed on cellphonesinlearning.com9, but without a specialapplication, only in using flickr for picture exchange. Maybe they will like our program and try it.In our research in the beginning of the project, we found no mobile application which is in generaluseful for scavenger hunts with learning purposes, freely available and last but not least opensource. That is why we developed it.The open design makes the application suitable for different kinds of learning games, alone or ingroups, in competition or cooperation, very mobile, or even at home. There are many ideas todevelop it further. It is almost bug-free, but some features are obviously missing, like little moviesand communication between the devices (e.g. for transmitting scores). Maybe some of us will findtime to go on working on the project in the future. Also we hope for interest in the open sourcecommunity.An online platform for creating and distributing adventure files would be a great project. Wethought about an easy-to-use web-interface for adventure makers. The goal would be the thelaunch of a social network of adventure creators and players.8 15 20. 7 Attachments01: Pre-Survey02: Post-Survey03: Source Code Reference & Documentation16 21. Attachment 01Usability Test - 07th of January of 2009PRE SURVEY.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..How old are you?___________For which purposes you use your cell phone?( ) Working 1 answer( ) Communicating/Talking 6 answers( ) Agenda 1 answer( ) Internet( ) Music 3 answers( ) Games 3 answers( ) Other: 1 answer for notes, 1 answer for photoAre you used to playing games on your cell phone?( ) Yes 3 answers( ) No 3 answersAre you a heavy cell phone user?( ) Yes 2 answers( ) No 4 answers17 22. Attachment 02POS SURVEY.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..In the beginning of the adventure you saw a painting.Which color was the flag in it?___________ 2 answers rightWhich animals could you identify in the poster in front of the door?___________ 3 answers rightCould you complete the adventure until the end?( ) Yes 6 answers( ) NoDid you have some fun doing it?( ) Yes 6 answers( ) NoDo you think that an adventure like this would work in a bigger proportion?( ) Yes 5 answers( ) NoThere was an observation made by a student: I think that when there are more people allhaving an own mobile it is a bit difficult to work together. What is when one is faster than theothers?Do you think it would be possible to learn something by playing specially designedadventures?( ) Yes 6 answers( ) No18 23. Attachment 03Please see document: mobile_ralley_src_ref.pdf 19