Tag Archives: problem-based learning

Problem-based learning, games and motivation

When learners are involved in problem-based learning (such as a game or other problem-solving activity), motivation often varies over time. Motivation tends to increase when partial success is achieved, but decreases when partial successes take too long to arrive. But how long is too long?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer since every learner is different and the tendency to remain motivated varies very widely between individuals, over time, and between contexts.

I’m currently working on a model of motivational stamina which attempts to identify some of the variables:

Learning and Motivation

The challenge facing the learning designer is how to maintain engagement when learner motivation is so variable. What is an interesting task at the beginning may cease to be interesting and motivating part way through, and learner attention and commitment to the activity may be lost.

The model suggests that some early success is desirable, and also that ongoing partial successes may serve to maintain motivation. This is reminiscent of narrative techniques in popular culture, where viewer interest is maintained through a repeated cycle of raised tension and dénouement.

Left, Paul. The Motivational Stamina Model. http://www.verso.co.nz/mw/index.php?title=Learning_and_Motivation

Using a wiki for a simple text-based game

Wikis are great for presenting factual information, and Mediawiki is widely used for this. The only problem I’ve found with managing my own wiki is having to deal with all the spam that an open wiki site attracts.

My current Mediawiki site is my second attempt: this time around, it’s not a collaborative wiki, since it’s really there for my own personal publishing needs. And there are plenty of other collaborative wikis around.

Recently I’ve been playing with ideas around how Mediawiki could be used to implement a simple adventure game. Partly because I enjoy playing with the software, but also because I’m always keen to find ways to include problem-based learning into my professional development activities. So I spent a few hours developing the Learning Design Challenge.

Using a wiki for a simple text-based game.

It’s primitive – my first thought was to include a graphical component but I’ve decided I rather like the text-only format. Something to do with the relative ‘imaginative openness’ of text for the reader: maybe that’s why graphical novels are only a small part of the fiction market.

I’ve abandoned the idea of including objects that individual users can pick up etc – this would require a major coding effort. And the whole point of this is it’s very low-tech and very easy to implement!