Summary
Written by Professor Thomas M Connolly   

 

The Needs

ARGuing is an innovative project that addresses two fundamental needs in European education in a totally new manner.

  1. How to bridge the widening technological gap between educators and their students
  2. How to motivate students to understand the benefits of learning languages at a level that impacts on their existing personal and social lives.


Bridging the generational gap
Within the last few years the Internet has developed in new directions with, especially, young people becoming much more involved in creating content and communicating online, this is called Web 2.0. Studies clearly show how teens are now using technology as a natural and accepted part of their lives. Often one of the only regular times that they do not use digital tools is when they are in school in a lesson.

Meanwhile their teachers and educators are still looking to use either pre-Internet or the Web in ways that are already dated and bear no relation to the technological level of their students.

Motivating learners to understand the need for multilingualism

Existing motivators used in language learning, utilise situations to develop oral or written skills such as role-play situations within the classroom, but these situations do not generally relate to the students’ real world situation and in particular do not attempt to use the power of technology, with the exception of online courses.

What is needed is a language orientated motivational tool that impacts at the level of students’ social and personal lives.

 

The ARGuing Project

This project has answered these important needs by building a methodology for educators that includes Web 2.0 technology, i.e. using digital technology to create content and communicate. Secondly, the project has constructed a special type of puzzle game called an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) (see Alternate Reality Games) that utilises digital technology as a communication tool for international, multilingual, peer student communities that have to solve the puzzle by working as a massively, multiplayer, collaborative group, in multiple languages (see Methodology).

It is important to understand, that an ARG is not a computer game that is played solely in front of a computer screen by an individual, but is a collaborative puzzle that can include online and offline elements and can only be solved by multiple players working in groups. The participants are not in competition to solve the puzzle.

Results of the Project

The primary mission of the project was to show that an Alternate Reality Game can be used as a collaborative tool to engage and motivate secondary students in Europe to learn languages. To that end:

  1. The project has developed an innovative, collaborative, technology-based approach to teaching languages and linguistic diversity at secondary school level across Europe, utilising Web 2.0
  2. Training and supporting teachers to use this innovative, motivational approach to teach languages and linguistic diversity with their students
  3. Developed a practical methodology that can be used by teachers to use and further develop this approach to teaching languages and linguistic diversity;


These products are available as for download (see download).

The papers include ways to use Alternate Reality Games in language education, Case studies and Use cases. The guides and courses will include simple and effective ways that educators will be able to use technology within their classes. Teachers will have the means and methods to create their own projects using the tools and knowledge that the methodology will describe. Resulting in an understanding of how to strategically deploy the methodology to bring about a more flexible and inclusive approach to teaching languages and linguistic diversity.

Results of the Tower of Babel game
Final pilot of the Tower of Babel game was played over the course of 8 days, the 22nd to 30th April 2009

Statistical results
328 students and 95 teachers from 28 schools in 17 countries took part in the game. The students ranged from 13 years to 16 and all were learning foreign languages, primarily English, though a few were learning, French, German and Russian, as well.

During the game the players:

  • Uploaded - 862 files (Audio, video, word, presentations, images)
  • Submitted - 9,135 answers across all the quests
  • Posted – hundreds of messages to the forums and participants guilds

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