International Journal of Computer Science Research and Application 2013, Vol. 03, Issue 01(Special Issue), pp. 05-15 ISSN 2012-9564 (Print) ISSN 2012-9572 (Online) © Author Names. Authors retain all rights. IJCSRA has been granted the right to publish and share, Creative Commons 3.0


Serious Games for Serious LearningUsing SG for Business, Management and Defence Education Maria Magdalena Popescu1, Margarida Romero2, Mireia Usart2 1

Carol I National Defence University, 68-72 Panduri st, Bucharest, ROMANIA Email : [email protected] 2 ESADE Law & Business School, 60-62 Avenue Pedralbes, Barcelona, SPAIN Email: [email protected]; [email protected]

Abstract Moto: "I want to talk about […] games—[…] --and say some positive things about them."

(J.P.Gee, 2007)

With the 21st century dynamics in one's thinking and being, education and -along with it- curriculum features have witnessed an upsurge in skills to be trained. Paraphrasing UNESCO's Task Force vision, we now teach students to know, to do, to live together and to be. In this respect, the "digital immigrants " now have to keep up with the ever changing quality of information and reconsider Bloom's taxonomy from the upper levels onward, looking for better ways to integrate interdisciplinary and trans-discipinary activities into the curriculum to prepare the "new millenials" for ever-challenging environments. In this context, inordinate books have been written and countless lectures have been given in conferences, as “games for educational purposes” and “gamification” as alternative and effective learning tools are nowadays "hash tags" in education. Everybody knows a little of it and nothing seems intricate enough not to be achieved. While games are still being designed for educational purposes and for a raised interest in instructors, the academic technologists and other staff who wish to learn by playing and reflect on this experience still have no clear, measurable understanding of what games really do in a real-teaching environment. After state-of-art has been presented in what Serious Games feature now both in education and corporate training, case studies are still to feed researchers via practitioners into revealing new facets of using games, in adapting and personalizing them to every context of use; all this aims at better meeting the requirements of the users, enhancing knowledge transfer in its various forms, bridging gaps between researchers, game designers, trainers, trainees and labour market stakeholders eventually. In this light, we here showcase a study undertaken asynchronously by ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain, and Carol I National Defence University (NDU), Bucharest, Romania, to identify the possibilities of integrating serious games into curriculum for an ESP (English for Specific Purposes) module, in an adult education-context, given the specificities of time, age, background and cultural – embedding features.

Keywords: Game Based Learning, Serious Games, User’s experience, Personalization, Adult Education, English for Specific Purposes.

1. Introduction: The rationale for the MetaVals case study in Spain and Romania Games Based Learning (GBL) is one of the active learning methodologies that have benefitted from the evolution of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) lately. Moreover, computer-based games have allowed educators to reconsider the dynamics of face-to-face interactions and allowed to facilitate the use of digital games in asynchronous and distant context. The use of games with learning purposes has also benefitted from the use of educational technologies, allowing to redesign face-to-face GBL activies into computer-based Serious Games (Padrós, Romero, & Usart, 2011). Following Zyda (2005), GBL activities are designed to help achieving a balance between fun and educational value. The pedagogical use of computer-based games could enhance problem solving competences, decision making, knowledge transfer and meta-analytic skills (Kirriemuir & McFarlane, 2004). In particular, GBL involving collaborative actions could allow for


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placing learning into an authentic and realist context, thus allowing students to practice in safe environments, providing realism and motivation to players through a good pedagogical design (Leemkuil, de Jong, de Hoog & Christoph, 2003). From the students’ point of view and according to Foreman (2003), active discovery required in this learning process enhances skills such as analysis, interpretation, problem solving, memory and physical activity. Nevertheless, these scenarios may show a lack of effectiveness when no instructional or support measures are added in order to guide this process. In this respect, de Freitas and colleagues (2010) affirm that negative learning transfer may occur with some game players in GBL, where the players’ expectation for high fidelity environments may be related to negative learning processes. Nonetheless, in looking for instruments and educational alternatives one can relentlessly consider Serious Games as they seem to have more answers in providing the context for problem-based learning, inquiry learning, constructionism and connectionism as SG "have more than just story, art and software...they involve pedagogy, activities that educate or instruct, thereby imparting knowledge or skill"(Zyda, 2005). Moreover, games have the power to shift attitudes (Holland and Jenkins and Squire, 2003) even though not all subjects in a curriculum can lend themselves to teaching with SG.

1.1 Serious games in the context of management education In the context of management education, simulations and games have been adopted during the last decades as an active learning methodology that allows learners’ to participate in an engaging and authentic situation, avoiding the risk that real life could engender in the fields of finance or security management (Kirriemuir, & McFarlane, 2004). In the recent years, Serious Games (SG) have become one of the trends of learning innovation in Business Schools, moving the traditional lecture methodology and the classroom developed study cases forward. In this sense, reference schools such as Harvard Business School have meant to make a progress, from the evolution of paper based study cases into simulations and interactive case studies where the learners’ could play a realistic situation, to learning by doing (Srikant, Garvin, & Cullen, 2010). In the context of management education, SG are focused on achieving the particular objectives of given educational content through game play. Students’ attempts to solve problems are maintained throughout the learning session. SGs can be used by teachers as instructional tools used to apprehend an experience system behaviour that will provide experiential insights through learning by doing methodologies. For instance, GBL allows management competences training by failing without the consequences of the real world (Prensky, 2001). Game design is based on the deep human inclination to play games as a source for highly motivated learning (Gee, 2003), where the learner can achieve a state of flow, considered by Csikszentmihalyi (1991) as the complete engagement or absorption in an activity. In the state of flow “the sense of duration of time is altered; hours pass by in minutes, and minutes can stretch out to seem like hours” (p. 49). Csikszentmihalyi identifies the playing activity as one of the activities that helps players’ “achieve an ordered state of mind that is highly enjoyable” (p. 72). Moreover, the action of gaming is visibly becoming a new form of interactive (mobile, multiplatform) content, worthy of exploration for learning purposes. While motivation in the use of the games fosters student’s effort without resentment, relaxation enables learners to understand things more easily. Since an additional goal for management students are the new methods of learning under pressure, which could enable the combination of theory and practice to construct new concepts that are learned from course content in the classroom, SGs are used to construct educational situations so as to enhance the learning motivation of the students, especially instructors in production management, logistics management, and other decision sciences courses that adopt game-assisted teaching tools to simulate real enterprise situations so as to let students prepare for their professional careers (Tao, 2009). In addition to that, collaborative games allow individuals who are geographically and temporarily dispersed to participate in the same game. Collaborative SGs can provide experiences across various situated contexts that enable learners to understand complex situations found in management. Group members can build on each others’ knowledge and provide feedback on each others’ activities and metacognitive activities (Kim, Park, & Baek, 2009). Advantageous peer interactions such as providing and receiving explanations, co-constructing ideas, reproving disputes and negotiation meaning can be found in collaborative gaming scenarios and this adds to the reasons why SGs are a learning and teaching method more frequently used in management education.

1.2 SG in defence education It was not only the management education, but also corporate training and military universities which have adopted this methodology where Serious Games have seen an important development, especially since it has been considered well appropriated in the context of risk-management situations. The specific field of military education has promoted the use of games both for risk-avoidance reasons, for leadersip, decision-making and for cognitive skills as well, in addition to the pedagogical advantages of SG in terms of engagement, playfulness and knowledge transferability.


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As far as Serious Games’ deployment in the military context is concerned, the topic is closely connected to the inception of using the video game America’s Army, released in 2002 , while the same year the Woodrow Wilson Centre for International Scholar in Washington, D.C. founded the Serious Games Initiative; this way the term “serious games” has triggered a large uptake process. Moreover, recent literature reviews have presented serious games as providing innovative solutions to issues in the military that would be still valid now as well as in the future. Simulations in particular have been used for different learning goals to train the military: medical, combat, leadership, logistics, strategic planning, military history, communications, engineering, and business management, linguistic and cultural issues. It was not only once that military education has utterly stressed on the benefits of using games in training, especially stressing on boosting learner’s motivation. Things became more prominent when Return on Investment is brought to the limelight and issues such as reduced training costs, training time and increased learner’s engagement translate themselves into the effectiveness of using Gamebased-learning, irrespective of the cultural and structural existent barriers ( fear of failure, generation gap in awareness and skills, command and control, hierarchical culture).While much has been done on military topics with respect to SG education and training- Command and Conquer, Call of Duty, Haze, etc ( Caspian Learning, SG in Defence Education, 2008), there still are things to be explored with respect to language and culture training for the military. Tactical Iraqi along with the Tactical Language and Culture Training System are but few examples of the efforts done in this direction as well, where not only tactics and strategy are in focus with serious game-based training, but linguistics and culture as well. For this last use we will hereto present some conclusions we have drawn, subsequent to using the MetaVals game produced by ESADE, in an applied linguistics module- English for special Purposes; the target group consisted of military students from a Financial Leadership Post-graduate course within the Carol I National Defence University, Bucharest, Romania.

2. MetaVals as a decision making game with individual and collaborative phases In the context of SGs for management education, MetaVals was first designed as a classification game for practicing basic finance concepts. The computer-based Serious Game was developed in the context of the FP7 Network of Excellence Games and Learning Alliance (GaLA). MetaVals was adapted from an existing class activity that the professor used for helping students practice finance concepts such as assets and liabilities in an active manner (Massons et al., 2011). This SG was designed through a process that involved a paper-based release at first and two computer-based versions of the game that were tested in different environments (Padrós, Romero, & Usart, 2011). Now MetaVals is a computer-based, sorting game where students play in dyads with a virtual or a real peer, against the rest of the class. A welcome screen asks players to introduce their age and previous knowledge on finance. This leads to a second screen with peers’ information. After general instructions are given by a virtual lecturer, the student starts playing individually by classifying 6 items as assets or liabilities (e.g. “Computer software”, “Bank Loan”); after this first phase, 6 different items appear, but now the player has access to his virtual peer’s answers in the correction phase. This phase allows students to see their peers’ answers and level of confidence before they give their own answers. The objective of the correction phase is to propose each of the student to reflect on their team-mates’ answers and evaluate their correctness, building selfconfidence and self-esteem, meta-cognitive skills. After the correction phase, a final discussion phase starts; the player has to decide if the 12 previously classified items were correctly classified. If the peer is another real student, there is a discussion using a chat tool (e.g. Moodle chat) where dyads should reach consensus over the 12 items’ final answer; in case of virtual peers, the discussion phase is not supported by a computer mediated communication. Finally, the dyad with a higher number of correct answers classified in less time, wins the game. The results of all the dyads playing in the same cohort are displayed according to the scores, in order to provide a feedback to the students’ based on their results in respect to the other dyads participating in the game.

2.1 Internationalisation and personalisation of MetaVals in the context of the FP7 NoE GALA The MetaVals Serious Game has been designed as a classification game that could be adapted to different contexts, to different knowledge domains, different languages and different graphic customisations according to the specific needs of each of the context. The personalisation capabilities of the MetaVals are achieved by a software design based on a modular structure of the database and an independent graphic interface that could be replaced by changing the images. For adapting the game for a new context, the MetaVals administrative users define a new context in the database, assigning an ID for the context, defining the pre-test and post-test surveys to be completed by the students, the language, the availability of a forum or chat for supporting the synchronous discussions between the dyads, and the creation of dyads composed by two real learners, or one real learner and a virtual teammate. In order to facilitate the implementation of MetaVals game in different contexts, a management interface was developed to allow an easier management of the different contexts, groups, users and domain-specific knowledge settings. The interface has been designed to allow teachers and non-experts to manage the


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personalization. This interface has been conceived to include other languages in case the MetaVals should be managed in other linguistic contexts. MetaVals is designed in six different stages to allow the personalization of each game play. First, students can access two previous tests; these are totally adaptable and aim to help students being aware of their initial level of knowledge. Then, MetaVals allows students to personalize their avatar for the game and also explicit their age, knowledge and experience in the field of the concrete gameplay. After the initial settings, the students play the individual and collaborative phases, and finally, there is another personalized post-test that can also be used to evaluate knowledge acquisition after the game play. The MetaVals game also aims to address the concrete demands of each learning context where the SG may be implemented. This goal is reached by adapting both the graphical design and the language displayed in the game. Through the use of personalization, the SG sense of credibility could be enhanced, especially when using a tailored graphic design; then, students can identify themselves with the learning activity in an easier manner (Shapiro et al., 2006)

2.2 Metavals and applied linguistics, cognitive and soft skill- enhancement for ESP classes Used in the Carol I National Defence University environment, the ESADE MetaVals game was applied within the module of English for Special Purposes, with the intention to determine the impact of a game on learning effectiveness and the chances that such an activity could be embedded within the educational process with military post-graduate students, for syllabus other than tactics and special operations; all this is given the benefit of doubt, as our subjects are postgraduate students aged 35-45, both males and females, with a career in the military and financial background, all in leading positions at their place of work. The MetaVals game was used in the context of bank and accounting topics, subsequent to understanding and learning the English equivalents of the specific terminology. Cognitive skills like remembering, understanding, applying and evaluating, along with inter- and intra-personal skills like self-confidence, collaboration, decision-making, negotiation, have been activated during this activity.

2.3 Alternative teaching in the context of GEL Theme team Stellar NoE The purpose of using this game was encompassed by the Game-Enhanced-Learning (GEL) Theme Team, a small-scale European project financed under the umbrella of Stellar NoE and, in order to add up to the best practice section, with insight from a military Higher Education environment; we aimed at contributing to guidelines for effective Serious Games deployment, looked at from an instructor’s perspective. We performed the case study to underline the alternative to traditional teaching methods and materials, even if the system under lens presumes some more strict rules of use with respect to the learning context. Instead of using the paper and pencil test or the obsolete debate or already classical role-play to apply the previously taught financial terminology, we engaged the postgraduate students in collaborative and individual activities that tested their previous knowledge as well as the extent to which the knowledge transfer has been performed prior to the game. In addition, the pre-test section of the game shed light over students’ self-confidence on the concepts in relation to their experience and background, enhancing motivation and engagement for the rest of the game. Therefore, the use of MetaVals in this case was set as a self-evaluation activity from the students’ perspective and as a formative assessment from the teacher’s point of view.


Universities as learning context for our case study

3.1 Carol I National Defence University Carol I National Defence University is a higher education institution, offering degree programs at different levels-bachelor, master and doctoral programs, along with mixed training on short term postgraduate career courses. The educational process in our university comes to support the methods and scientific tools that enhance the formation of outstanding officers and leaders for tomorrow, at operational and strategic levels, both at peace and war times. Modern teaching devices along with technology have boosted the educational process in Carol I NDU lately, ensuring knowledge transfer along with meta-cognitive necessary skills. Serious Games have been used in training our military at tactical and operational level, more in the form of simulations, while games embedded in syllabuses other than these are still incipient. The reasons why this is so can be related to educational policies, to security issues restrictions, to mentalities and instructors' reluctance to new pedagogies, to educational staff's fears of loosing ground. We do hope, yet, that the MetaVals case unfolded in April 2012 is just the promising beginning, while other initiatives will soon emerge.


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3.2 ESADE Business & Law School ESADE is an international academic institution with more than fifty years of history. Its key mission is to develop individuals unto becoming highly-competent professionals with a high capacity of reflection, dialogue and initiative. ESADE promotes quality education and research through its Law and Business Schools, both for undergraduate and post-graduate students. There is also the Executive Education (ExEd) department, with participants ranging from 20 to 80 years old. The use of Serious Games (SG) in ESADE is not generalized, although it has grown during the last decade. Business simulations and investment games are used in face-to-face classes both for undergraduate students and master courses. In the context of the first e-learning module designed by the Direction of Educational Innovation and Academic Quality (DIPQA), the first release of MetaVals was designed and implemented in 2011.


Learning objectives for the use of Metavals in Spain and Romania.

The MetaVals game was firstly designed as an adaptation of a learning activity used in a face to face course. Its objective as a class activity was to help students in the practice and sharing of the knowledge acquired in the previous lecture-based lessons. This way, MetaVals first release was defined as a classification game. Its first objective aimed to overcome the difficulties of the lecture-based activity. When implementing this activity in class, not all the participants could explain their knowledge in an equal way, neither could they get feedback from the teacher and from other students. As shown in Figure 1, the relationship between the teacher and participants was asymmetric and only allowed a small number of participants to get involved and receive feedback. The second scheme presented in Figure 1 shows the change in the interactions that MetaVals introduction in the classroom could provide. The game design consciously intends to help each and every one of the participants to explain and share their knowledge, first individually and then collaboratively, in dyads. The design of MetaVals therefore aims to allow students and teachers overcome the limits of the traditional activity.

Figure 1. Interaction scheme in a lecture-based activity compared to a collaborative, game-based activity. A second learning objective is to help students practice theoretical contents. MetaVals was first implemented as a part of a finance course. In particular, this SG aimed to help students practice two financial concepts: assets and liabilities. With this aim, game designers together with an expert professor in finance designed a list of items that could be classified into assets or liabilities. This list was divided into easy, medium and high difficulty items, and then concepts were mixed and distributed in two panels or screens in order to make the gaming experience challenging enough for students. Each panel presented six different items that had to be classified. In its current version, the MetaVals game allows teachers to introduce and select different items for each different game play; therefore, this can be used in different areas of knowledge. Thirdly, with the aim of facilitating knowledge sharing, each item in the SG presents a certainty level gadget. This tool allows students to rate and share their level of certainty when classifying each item from 0 (not sure at all) to 10 (completely sure). This tool could help students in their metacognitive processes, both individual and collaborative ones (Romero, Usart, & Almirall, 2001; Usart, Romero & Esteve, 2011). Within the Carol I National Defence University we intended to use the MetaVals game with the aim to establish the impact games have on knowledge transfer considering the context and particularities of adult education with specifities of age, background , generation gap in awareness and skills; in addition to that, the possibility of curriculum integration has been explored with a view to using Serious Games embedded into curricular activities as altenative instruments for assessment, simultaneously measuring the effectiveness of games on students' learning attitude. Of paramount importance among these objectives was teacher's role to be played in this new learning context.


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Figure 2. Level of certainty elicitation Should we consider though the learning objectives we pursued in our endeavour to use the MetaVals game within the Finance and Business Leadership Postgraduate course, it is imporant to state that the game was used as post-teaching activity, in the controlled practice stage of the lesson , targeting skills like remembering, applying, analyzing, evaluating. Needless to say that there were not only cognitive skills that were involved in our activity as learning objectives but also the affective ones, such as: receiving and responding to phenomena as well as internalizing values in the process of selecting the best answer for assets or liabilities and then compare students’ answer to their colleagues, to then self-evaluate their certainty level and be able to negotiate over the best answer in the ranked terms. Another important element set as learning objective in the MetaVals case study was the improvement of soft skills like team-building or decision making to be developed by means of this activity, given the specificity of andragogy and adults in the defence education field, adding to the fact that the targeted students range between 35-45 years old and all fill leading positions in their place of work, elements conducive to sensitive situations when assessment is involved. Last but not least was the objective of creating situational context that are very close to real life environment for the sake of immediate applicability of a learning activity with a view to practicing some functional language context for formal language and decision making for reaching consensus dialogues.

5. Teacher’s approach in Spanish and Romanian contexts Prior to using the game in Carol I NDU in Romania for the ESP learning context, a familiarization with the activities and elements of the game has been performed by the teacher, following the game developer’s instructions. A simulated play and game interaction was performed by one representative of the staff in ESADE with the teaching representative in Carol I NDU, so that the instructor would become familiar with all the stages of the game herself and see the learning stages from the student's perspective as well; this way all the questions can be anticipated and the game-based teaching sequence can thus be performed smoothly and consistently.Once this stage was performed and the teacher can control all the unexpected situations by being familiar with the context, the game-based teaching / assessment activity/ application can begin. The case study in question unfolded in the computer lab, wher the students were invited subsequent to paper –based and debate activities that introduced the topic and ensured the knowledge transfer. At the stage of starting the game per se, students were provided with personalized welcoming messages via mail from the game developer, informing them on steps to be taken; consequently, teacher’s role has been seriously diminished at this later stage. However, this fact has shown its minor drawbacks as well, as a side effect. Teacher’s role in this very case has been limited to guiding them through the beginning of the game and the game pre-testing phase, where they stated their level of knowledge in the field, based on their own selfassessment; therefore, when the game started, students just used the information in the customized mailed messages, received from the game designers. What is worth being mentioned about students yet, is that being pursued by time-factor in the desire to complete the game in the shortest time possible, students paid no attention to in-game real teacher’s instruction. At the end they required a more interactive virtual tutor to guide them along. This shows the complete dichotomy between the real versus the in-game instructor’s role and the impact they both have over student’s activity effectiveness. In the context of ESADE in Spain, the game has been used in three modalities. A firt release of the game has been used in a paper-based approach reproducing the screens of the computer-based environment. After this successful experience, the second modality of use was the use of the MetaVals games in a computer-based


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environment accessible through the laptops of the students collocated in a face-to-face class. In this context, the teacher’s role was reduced to a reduced level of external guidance aiming to provide help to the students’ demands during the game. This game modality has been deployed during three months in different classes of the Introduction to Finance course. After these successful experiences, it was decided, along with the Finance professor, to do a step further and propose the students to play to MetaVals as an autonomous activity available in the Moodle website, in a distance asynchronous modality. This last stage has beed completed successfully by the students’ playing the game. Nevertheless, in this distant asynchrounous modality a small part of the students’ were not playing the game because of their reduced engagement out of the classroom academic time. The use of the MetaVals has currently involved more than 200 students and allowed to analyse the ease-of-use, utility and acceptability of the game , in addition to its possibilities for adaption and personalisation (Romero, Usart, Popescu, & Boyle, 2012).

6. Students’ approach with MetaVals game in Spain and Romania At the outset of this study case, students of the Carol I NDU were very enthusiastic with the proposal of using the game as an alternate means to apply and evaluate the knowledge gained and the concepts refreshed during the course. They created themselves avatars using their own basic data unreluctantly, to feel themselves better engaged in the game. They were anxious to go through the game in the shortest time possible as the word “competition” had become a buzz word for them. Due to this fact they even ignored teacher’s extra instructions, being eager to be the first to finish and win, to the detriment of final results. As they were told their peers in the game- the dyads- were virtual and less knowledgeable, they changed the initial level of confidence, and they were even disappointed, as a real and stronger opponent would have challenged those more- according to their feedback. They yet got involved, immersed (as the information in the game had immediate relevance to the real world) and felt both serious and entertained during this activity. They expressed their desire for more such classes. At the end of this one-hour experiment with the Finance and Accounting Post-graduate students on using the MetaVals game in Carol I NDU, we can state the objectives of our experiment have been met. Consequently, we concluded that: -games do have positive effects on learning even in adult training, in that they boost students’ interest and engagement towards the knowledge in focus. Even if by using the MetaVals students didn’t actually acquire new concepts, their soft skills were improved, their metacognitive skills were developed and the teacher took this opportunity to have the students self-assessed. In adult teaching sometimes evaluation is a sensitive issue due to age and career leading positions, affecting self-esteem and public image, therefore softer methods that would allow for a teaching process to be completed with evaluating the cognitive gain without affecting one’s self are better received by mature students. -as far as the integration within the learning process is concerned, the MetaVals game has been used in the Postgraduate Financial English course in the reinforcement and application phase, subsequent to teaching and learning. We both used the game for cognitive and soft skills development, among which we mention remembering, understanding, applying, evaluating, along with inter- and intra-personal skills like selfconfidence, collaboration, decision-making, negotiation, self-efficacy skills. -It turned out that the group needed more preparation for the game sequences -due to the novelty of the activity- than for the cognitive component of the game content which comes as a strong factor in support of spreading more information on the game-based –learning activities with a view to a larger uptake. Reluctance comes from ignorance and once the method is well spread, more and more teachers and students will take to it. In the context of ESADE, the participants of the Introduction to finance course playing the Metavals have been invited to answer a feedback questionnaire related to their learning and playing experience, based on the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM, Davis, 1986). The TAM model suggests that the users’ perceived ease of use (PEOU), perceived enjoyment (PE), perceived usefulness (PU) and Utility (U) influence the use of the computer-based system. The TAM has been largely used in the analysis of the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) capabilities of SG in the last years (Yusoff, Crowder, Gilbert, 2010; Kong et al. 2009). GBL can thus be defined as a computer-based learning Environment that provides a host of new opportunities for instructional designers, based on traditional lecture-based methodologies (Anderson, 2008), and also supporting more active forms of student-content interaction. For teachers and practitioners, one aspect that should be analyzed in the use and effects of GBL, is the students’ acceptance of the activity. Following the TAM, we considered PU, as a key characteristic or factor of students’ acceptance to be considered in the MetaVals activity analysis. In Davis’s TAM, PU is defined as the degree to which users consider that the IT system will improve their performance. PU in GBL could be considered as the learners’ perceived learning opportunities, “the extent to which a person believes that using an online educational game can offer him or her opportunities for learning” (Bourgonjon et


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al., 2010, p. 1147). Preliminary results in ESADE experiences (Padrós, Romero & Usart, 2011) show that the relation between PE and PU was significant. A possible explanation for this result is that games in general and GBL in particular, are environments supposed to motivate and engage players (Prensky, 2001); therefore, enjoyment and usefulness are supposed to be enhanced in games.The TAM can also be used as a post-test in GBL activities such as MetaVals for helping teachers have a clearer picture of students’ future uses and intention of use with the game.

7. Teacher’s post-training approach over a prospective game-based-curriculum in Spain and Romania A very important conclusion is that customization plays an important role in students’ engagement with the game, and MetaVals gives some customization options. However, a more interactive interface would be more efficient in giving the students’ the reality factor at a better quota. An interactive tutor once the game starts was asked for, as it is more difficult to „go in and out of the game” for different instructions provided by the classroom tutor. Moreover, students would have liked to „feel and see” the opponent in the dyad, his lack or representation as a real character- being presented only with an on-screen column with values- gave the feeling of little interactivity. It is well known that one of the adult-learning compliance factors is the reality factor and immediate use of whatever it is presented as training. Not being compliant with their real-life post-training cases, an activity ends in being lacked of interest. Avatars have their importance as well as the other characters in the game, especially with adults, for a raised reality-factor challenge as well as for a better engagement triggered by this. As far as the syllabus is concerned this game has been well embedded thematically, answering both the objectives of the case study and the objectives of the lesson per se, objectives which had been previously required in the general curriculum. However, at this stage games can only be embedded into syllabus provided educators identify elements conducive to the learning contexts and learning objectives. More time and financial resources, more open-mindedness is all required from the higher education staff. Nevertheless, since the first steps from both the students’ and the tutor’s perspective have been taken successfully, more will surely follow. In the context of the use of MetaVals in ESADE, the professor is not playing an important role in the process. He supports the student when they require to answer content related questions in the face-to-face uses of the game. In the context of asynchronic and distant use of the MetaVals, the professor is not required in the process of integration of the game in the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Moodle. The students’ plays autonomously to the game and has not yet used the forum to ask for additional information or share doubts on the content of the game. MetaVals shows the results of the classification activity to the students just after playing. For this reason, is not required for the professor to analyse the students’ answer and provide them with feedback.

8. Students’ post-training vision over the effectiveness of a game-based –curriculum in Spain and Romania Students’ answers in the post-game feedback session on the use of MetaVals game for ESP purposes in Romania have presented us with some interesting insights. The questionnaire submitted at the end of the game-training session elicited both qualitative and quantitative indicators and used Likert scale. Hence: - Motivation was given by the fact that the game was experience based, that the difficulty level was well balanced with respect to completing the challenges inside the game - As far as relevance for the job was concerned the answers for all the students were 3 on a Likert scale, while the correspondence between their job description and skills employed in training had a different feedback from user to user, given their different positions in the work-place. When they were asked to give comments on the game, they stated that they liked the idea of gamifying the learning activity, they liked competition and the combination between cognitive and soft skills employed in solving the task. 90% of them would rather attend this kind of blended training, where some of the activities are gamified, due to the novelty factor, due to the possibility of self-assessment and challenge, due to the idea of entertainment within an otherwise strict learning context.


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8.1 Using games for self assessing knowledge Serious Games, as an active learning methodology, aims to place the learner in a central role (Oblinger, 2004). These educational activities can be used for improving students’ self-assesment. In particular, MetaVals is a SG that allows students to practice previously acquired knowledge on their own. This is achieved through three different factors; first, the possibility of playing the collaborative phases with a virtual peer. This characteristic allows players to access and play the SG both online and asynchronously. Secondly, MetaVals was designed with a virtual teacher character that aims to pedagogically scaffold the players’ advance screen by screen. With this virtual role, the students need little guidance from the teacher during the game play activity. Finally, the fact that pre-test and post-tests are also implemented and are easily accessible from the game application could help students in self-assessing their process before, during, and after the game play. Nevertheless, a debriefing session is recommended when playing MetaVals, as it could help students reflect on the process, and share doubts on the game results. In the context of adult learning this method has an added value in itelf as assessment with adults poses some sensitive issues with respect to leading postions back at work place, ranks - for the defence educationhierarchical culture, fear of failure. By performing an in-game assessment the results are communicated in a low profile and by collaborative learning the burden of being held responsible for one's answers is shared, while team-work values are promoted and strengthened.

8.2 Using serious games out of the classroom Nowadays, teachers claim for IT resources readily available; if SGs are used as technologies for learning and teaching, teachers need resources to be accessible in order to simplify their implementation, and to help possible overcome class limitations (Becker, 2007). When thinking of using SGs out of the classroom, there are some key aspects that need to be studied. A SG used by the learner must be accessible online. MetaVals is web-based, and it can be played online, with the only requirement that the teacher has to previously release the users into the game engine. This step is also important as a security issue: only students engaged in a class can access the game. As out of class activities, as homework, it needs clear instructions from the teacher. In the case of a SG, these instructions can be given by the game, and students can follow the activity on their own. MetaVals, as seen in the previous section, allows a high personalization of each game-play, and, if needed, it can present a virtual teacher that guides the student throughout all the screens of the game to make this SG able to be played out of the classroom too. On the other hand, in class, this role can be played by the teacher or tutor who explains the game phases step by step to the students. These personalization choices allow practitioners to use the game in different learning situations (Romero, Usart, Popescu & Boyle, 2012), and therefore help students engage in active learning activities both in and out of the classroom.

9. Conclusions and steps ahead The use of the Serious Game MetaVals in the context of the case study perofrmed within Carol I NDU- Romania and the regular use of MetaVals in ESADE has achieved the learning objectives for each of the contexts, not only in terms of the balances in finance but also in the English for Special Purpose, developed through playing the game. In terms of the learning experience, there is room for improvement in the management of the prior knowledge asymmetries between the dyads. Also, the deployment of serious games in defence education, into areas that involve more than tactics and strict military operations, such as trans-disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts in the applied linguistics modules, strategy, communication and leadership and even teacher trainer are optimistically seen as viable and with many chances of successful uptake, provided the methodology is made well-known and teachers get familiarized with the fruits such an approach bear on the learning effectiveness, while pedagogical approaches will make formal education more engaging and boost its effectiveness (Arnab al.- 2012), provided both teachers and students drop the barrier of reluctance and embrace the road successfully lying ahead for most of us-Technology-Enhanced-Learning.

References: Arnab,S., Berta R. , Earp J., de Freitas S., Popescu M., Romero M., Stanescu I., Usart I. (2012). Framing the Adoption of Serious Games in Formal Education. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, Academic Publishing Limited, pp159‑171 Becker, K. (2007). Digital game-based learning once removed: teaching teachers. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38 (3), 478-488.Davis, F. D. (1986) A Technology Acceptance Model for Empirically Testing New End-User Information Systems: Theory and Results, Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Collins. de Freitas, S., Rebolledo-Mendez, G., Liarokapis, F. Magoulas, G. & Poulovassilis A. (2010). Learning as immersive experiences: using the four dimensional framework for designing and evaluating immersive learning experiences in a virtual world. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(1), 69-85. Foreman, J. (2003). Next-Generation Educational Technology versus the Lecture. Educause Review, 38(4), 12. Kim, B., Park, H. & Baek, Y. (2009). Not just fun, but serious strategies: Using meta-cognitive strategies in game-based learning. Computers and Education, 52(4), 800 810. Kirriemuir, J., & McFarlane, A. (2004). Report 8: Literature review in games and learning. Futurelab Series. Kong, S.C., Ogata, H., Arnseth, H.C., Chan, C.K.K., Hirashima, T., Klett, F., Lee, J.H.M., Liu, C.C., Looi, C.K., Milrad, M., Mitrovic, A., Nakabayashi, K., Wong, S.L., Yang, S.J.H. (eds.) (2009). Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Computers in Education. Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. Leemkuil, H., de Jong, T., de Hoog, R. & Christoph, N. (2003). KM Quest: A Collaborative Internet-Based Simulation Game. Simulation & Gaming, 34(1), 89–111. Massons, J., Romero, M., Usart, M., Mas, S., Padrós, A. & Almirall, E. (2011). Uso del aprendizaje basado en juegos en la formación de finanzas para no financieros. Actas de las Jornadas Interuniversitarias de Innovación Docente. Universitat Ramon Llull, DEUSTO, ICADE, 16-17 June, Barcelona. Oblinger, D. (2004). The next generation of educational engagement. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 8. Padrós, A. Romero, M. & Usart, M. (2011). Developing serious Games: Form Face-to-Face to a Computer-based Modality. E-learning papers, 25, 15-07-2011. Prensky, M. (2002). The motivation of gameplay: The real twenty-first century learning revolution. On the Horizon, 10,(1), 5-11. Romero, M., Usart, M., Almirall, E. (2011). Serious games in a finance course promoting the knowledge group awareness. EDULEARN11 Proceedings, pp. 3490-3492. Romero, M., Usart, M., Popescu, M., & Boyle, E. (2012). Interdisciplinary an international adaption and personalization of the MetaVals Serious Games. The Third International Conference on Serious Games Development and Applications SGDA 2012, 26-29 Sep, University of Bremen, Germany. Shapiro, M. A. Pena-Herborn, J., Hancock, J. T.: Realism, imagination and narrative video games. In: Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences. Eds: Vorderer, P., & Bryant, J. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (2006). Srikant D., Garvin, D., & Cullen, P. (2010). Rethinking the MBA, Business Education at a Crossroads. Boston: Harvard Business Press, Tao, Y.-H., Cheng, C.-J. & Sun, S.-Y. (2009). What influences college students to continue using business simulation games? The Taiwan experience. Computers and Education, 53(3), 929-939. Usart, M., Romero, M. & Almirall, E. (2011). Impact of the Feeling of Knowledge explicitation in the learners’ participation and performance in a collaborative Game Based Learning activity. International Conference on Serious Games Development and Applications Springer LNCS proceedings, Lisbon. Yusoff, A., Crowder, R., Gilbert, L. (2010). Validation of serious games attributes using the technology acceptance model. Proceedings of 2010 second international conference on games and virtual worlds for serious applications (45-51). Braga, Portugal. Zyda, M. 2005. From visual simulation to virtual reality to games. IEEE computer, 38(9), 30–34.

A Brief Author Biography Dr. Maria Magdalena Popescu- is an associate professor within the Foreign Languages Department at the Carol I National Defence University in Bucharest, Romania. With an ESL major and a Master of Arts in British Cultural Studies, she obtained her Ph.D. in Humanities with a trans-disciplinary approach – psychoanalytical criticism of the British Novel. She currently focuses on English for Specific Purposes in the field of security, crisis management, geopolitics, strategy and tactics, as well as financial, communication and military terminology for adult education. One of the initiators of the military English blended learning courses in the Romanian military, she has lately turned to research in the technology-enhanced-learning realm. She has authored more than 40 articles in national and international journals. She has attended conferences both as a moderator and a reviewer, acted in scientific committees on topics covering both foreign languages, culture and civilization, but also eLearning and Serious Games. She has authored 7 books, and co-edited 1 to be published in IGI Global in 2013, she participated in two European funded projects and three national ones on eLearning, mobile learning and serious games. As a linguist she has also developed standardized tests for NATO linguistic evaluation and assessed speaking competency for the deployable military, based on NATO standardized agreement profile.

Dr. Margarida Romero- holds an European Ph.D. in Psychology by UMR CNRS (France) and Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Extraordinary Ph.D. Award in Psychology). She is an Associate Director of E-learning in ESADE Law & Business School and associate professor of psychology in UAB and e-learning in UOC. Awarded with the 3rd price on Technology Transfer from the EU NoE Kaleidoscope in 2007, and the 1st price of the Artificial Intelligence French Association Award in 2006. Her research aims to advance the understanding of the time factor in Computer Supported Collaborative Learning in the contexts of online learning and Serious Games. In particular, she is interested in how students, in long-term collective learning tasks, perceive, allocate and regulate their learning times at the individual and group level. Her dissertation research focused on the study of collective time management difficulties expressed by adult freshmen in online Computer-Supported Collaborative e-Learning (CSCL) and Project-Oriented Learning (POL) situations. As a


International Journal of Computer Science Research and Application, 3(1): 05-15

consultant, she worked during the last 10 years on counseling international academic and professional organizations in educational projects (ITIN University in Paris, IUFM French Guyana, Educational Ministry of Algeria, IQPC Brazil…) and she is also leading the Euro-CAT-CSCL research project within the FP7 Marie Curie IAPP actions PhDC- Mireia Usart- a junior researcher, she has a degree in physical sciences, a Master of Science in education and ICT, and is currently a first year PhD student at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC). Post‐graduate course “Pedagogical aptitude program”. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). Simultaneously, she is collaborating with ESADE in Barcelona, where she works with Dr. Margarida Romero at the Direction of Educational Innovation and Academic Quality (DIPQA). She has worked as a freelance trainer in high education workshops “2.0 Educational tools and Skills” and as a mathematics teacher in different institutions: Institut Joan Maragall (Barcelona), Acadèmia Carme Benet (Molins de Rei), Acadèmia ‘The Castle” (Hospitalet de Llobregat), and her area of interest spins around ICT skills training,Web 2.0, eLearning.

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Serious Games for Serious Learning- Using SG for ...

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