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Seamless Learning

The investigation into the need for a continuity of the learning experience across contexts, space and time revealed the following key points. These insights are based around the lab’s projects on spatial studies, ImparApp and Game Changers.

Spatial studies and ImparApp

Delivery of teaching and learning activity
  • Promoting pervasive learning aligns with the need to respond to the blurring of boundaries between physical and digital learning spaces and contexts.
  • The discipline of seamless learning merges the technological and human challenges faced by the emerging new technologies of the last decade, suggesting that the ultimate learning environment will have to provide a smooth learner experience, with options to both consume and create content in both formal and informal setting as well as digital and physical spaces.
  • Through the ImparApp project, the merging of digital and physical contexts and spaces has been investigated with the potential of a location-based game to engage learners in mobile and active learning is evident from the positive feedback from the students (pilot).
  • The design and development of ImparApp and the investigations carried out under the Beaconing project will inform other projects that are investigating the crossings between gamification and pervasive gaming, including the potential of indoor mobile communication to support context-aware resources and future ‘learning spaces’.
  • The holistic approach of the lab (please see below resources) in designing such an experience has informed the development of both ImparApp and Beaconing and may inform future initiatives in integrating knowledge, tools and services towards facilitating a pervasive and technology-enabled learning exploiting both physical and digital contents and contexts.
  • Through the spatial studies, the lab’s study exploring students’ engagement with physical resources and infrastructures illuminates learning behaviour and dynamics within the university library.
  • Students themselves rarely categorised spaces as independent or collaborative, with a small percentage of students undertaking groupwork in silent areas and a larger percentage of students working independently in areas designated as collaborative working areas.
  • Whilst barriers might be seen to exist between formal and informal spaces in institutions, these barriers may not be perceived by students themselves.
  • Contrasts between individual and collaborative study, or desk-based versus mobile learning are blurring, and that students adapted spaces for their own needs, raise interesting challenges for the provision of resources (digital, physical and blended) across the institution.
  • Further work will include mapping findings from other projects to the different layers of the modular model to collectively form insights and guidelines for designing pervasive learning enabled by technological approaches, including games and digital gamification.

In more detail, findings from the library spatial practices study include:

  • Student usage of DMLL was highest at 1pm and 4pm, although usage later in the day (7pm and 10pm) was higher than earlier in the day (10am). DMLL usage was highest during student deadline periods.
  • The volume of usage in the DMLL varied according to the location in which students were working, and the time of day
  • The busiest time for the DMLL was in the middle of the day, but it tended to become more popular later on in the day
  • Students were often seated in groups and either working collaboratively (most evidently around the whiteboards) or at least socially, even if students were working on separate projects.
  • There were also occasions in which students had chosen to use the DMLL for reasons other than its collaborative working opportunities. A significant number of students were evidently working alone, evidenced by no other students in their immediate vicinity, their use of headphones when seated in a group, or their body language which indicated students turned away from their peers.
  • Students took ownership of the DMLL through moving furniture in unexpected ways, bringing food and drink into the space whilst working, taking shoes off whilst in the Grass and on the Hill, leaving spaces and items unattended in order to ‘reserve’ a space, and confounding expectations with regards to the usage of the Hill and screens, finding ways in which the space worked for them and finding solutions when it did not.
  • It is likely that part of DMLL’s popularity was due to its bright and colourful appearance, and as the rest of the library has been redesigned to follow the same aesthetic, students have identified other working areas.
  • The DMLL remains extremely popular with students and there are few observable differences in the kinds of educational practices enacted in this space.
Effective use of resources
  • Through the investigation of the spatial study project, and despite the move towards mobile learning in this institution and others, desktop computers remain by far the most regularly used resource in the library across all years.
    • There are two possible reasons for this finding. Firstly, many students in this study requested that further plug sockets be made available for charging of laptops or tablets, suggesting a wish to use personal resources but a lack of structural capacity to support this. Secondly, observational analyses also indicated that oftentimes university desktop computers and personal laptops or tablets were used concurrently, allowing students to research online whilst writing papers, for example, or enabling students to have both ‘social’ and ‘work’ feeds.
    • Overall, these findings seem to suggest that dichotomies between individual and collaborative study, or desk-based versus mobile learning, no longer exist, if indeed they ever did.
  • Students in the DMLL circumvented, altered and adapted to the expectations associated with the design of the space. This was most evident in relation to the screens included in the pods and project rooms; whilst these were used to some extent in the project rooms, there was only 1 instance of the screens being used in the pods, confounding expectations that these would be in popular use.
  • Space seemed to be of particular importance to students on the DMLL; students tended to ‘spread out’ with laptops surrounded by notepaper, notebooks and, to a lesser extent, books and tablet devices.
  • The use of laptop devices was particularly common; there were few instances in which a student was not using a personal laptop or a DMLL-provided computer. Students also used notebooks, books, and occasionally tablet devices alongside those computers, highlighting a multi-modal approach to learning.
  • Through the studies of location-based approaches to support the crossings between digital and physical spaces in learning (ImparAPP), there is a potential to map learning objects against real physical spaces, encapsulated within engaging narrative/stories.
  • True to almost all pervasive games, the issues of awareness of the surroundings and safety of the learners has to be taken into consideration when designing the route of the location-based game and the actual activities that will require physical interactions.
Already developed tools/frameworks
  • An Imparapp game prototype has been completed currently undergoing further development based on feedback.
  • An holistic gamified learning design model, developed in the lab, has informed Imparapp and other projects (such as GameChangers and Beaconing).



Delivery of teaching and learning activity
  • Using more traditional digitally or non-digitally enhanced interactive game-based learning (GBL), game design thinking and playfulness to develop new models of teaching and learning, new practice in cross-faculty learning/collaboration and new mindsets in the use of creative means for problem solving has been developed.
  • The Game Changers project has supported the flip classroom agenda at the university, where lecturers are able to gamify their subject content and/or teaching practice for instance and involve students and game/gamification experts as co-designers.
  • Game Changers supports the development of products such as online and open resources on game design thinking, game prototypes and a new model for running this program to support cross-faculty collaboration.
  • Game Changers focused on enabling students and academics to develop their own games. As this project involved all DMLL themes and university faculties it was termed a ‘meta-project’.
  • Highlight’s from evaluation of Game Changers include aspects such as: – Learning through Designing: In order to develop a game to ‘teach’ a specific concept, learners would have to understand that concept, placing emphasis on co-creation and collaboration – There needs to be a cultural shift from provision to production: There is a culture of serious games development at CU (i.e. SGI). Game Changers has shifted the focus from provision for learners to production by learners.

Lessons learnt and plans for Game Changers 2:

  • Projects need to be more playful and less structured – videos and ‘emerging’ community need to play a key role in this • Game Changers has developed as an initiative that fosters creative toolkit design, development and practice.
  • Game Changers received buy in from colleagues at the university through demonstrations of approaches and tools developed during the Game Changers pilot.
  • There is an increased emphasis on meaningful/purposeful play and playful learning to foster agency and autonomy in the learning process.
  • Game Changers is becoming an umbrella organisation for a diverse range of activities: both online and offline including the use of digital, paper-based, physical role-play, etc…
  • PLAY underpins the core philosophy of Game Changers phase 2.
Review and improvement of programmes and practice
  • It is envisaged that the project will improve overall student experience and engagement with course materials and aid towards gaining certain learning outcomes.
  • The outcomes of Phase 1 Game Changers will be further developed and diffused into the university and beyond in Phase 2. The outcomes can be categorised as:
    • Adaptable Game Design Thinking programme: A programme that includes 4 key stages based on a holistic design approach developed at the DMLL. This programme can be embedded as part of a module to facilitate a game design process to complement tutorial sessions/assignments/etc., for example students can go through a game design process as part of a dissertation/assignments.
    • Card-based approach to facilitate team learning: A card-based game has been developed, such as ‘What is your story?’ card deck designed based on Experience Design to help students and staff to be creative in their interpretation of abstract concepts.
    • Role-play and narratives: An initiative based on Escape Rooms (e.g. escaPED) has been developed and piloted, which emphasises on problem solving and connecting disconnected clues, etc. A team puzzle game is also being developed
    • 3D/VR/360 narratives: This involved technical development and trials of 3D, VR and 360 immersive narratives to support learning.
    • Paper-based non-linear narratives and problem solving: This is a creative approach to develop reusable templates for non-linear narratives to be used for teaching and learning various subjects. A box concept has been developed and piloted across the university (under the Flip agenda).
Student support and guidance
  • Facilitators are encouraged to get Game Based Learning into their teaching practice quickly and with less complications
  • The gamified open course was found to be too rigidly structured to be fully accessible, especially on the students’ side
Effective use of resources
  • Several games are in development for various areas in the University:
    • Ethical Hacking Game – Runs 1 year with look to expand over a 3-year period.
    • Rules and Regulations Game – For EEC Masters Students.
    • Meet & Greet Game (Apollo 13 style) – For EEC Masters Students.
    • Photography Game – Arts Degree Students.
  •  The Game Changers portfolio will be available on the portal at and comprise of resources including:
    • Templates; e.g. card-based games, Game Design Thinking programme, etc.
    • Videos (1-2 minutes).
    • Tools specific to Game Changers e.g. What’s Your Story?
    • Generic tools e.g. Flipped in a Box.
    • Case Studies and How-To guidelines.
Already developed frameworks
  • Website
  • Open Course
  • Prototype game for EEC staff
  • ‘What is your story’ meta-experiential design cards
  • EscapED Framework for use in creating live interactive games
  • Community
  • Badging


link-icon-pdf-smallWhat is Your Story
Sylvester Arnab, Coventry University.


link-icon-pdf-smallBack to Basics with Game Changers
Sylvester Arnab, Coventry University.


link-icon-pdf-smallHolistic and Modular Technology-Assisted Learning Design Thinking
Sylvester Arnab, Coventry University.


link-icon-pdf-smallTowards the Blending of Digital and Physical Learning Contexts with a Gamified and Pervasive Approach
Sylvester Arnab, Coventry University.


link-icon-pdf-smallTowards the Blending of Digital and Physical Learning Contexts with a Gamified and Pervasive Approach
Sylvester Arnab, Coventry University.





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