Learning through Play: Games and Crowdsourcing for Adult Education

By Forsyth, Ellen | Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Learning through Play: Games and Crowdsourcing for Adult Education


Forsyth, Ellen, Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services


Games are a powerful to engage people with ideas and with each other. They are a way to learn new skills, and to interact with other people. This interaction can be with other people in the same room or with people online. Games are fun. This is obvious, but sometimes it can become forgotten about in the discussion.

In research in 2011 by Bond University for the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association

* pcs are in 98% of game households with 62% of game households using a pc for games. Game consoles are in 63% of game households, dedicated handheld consoles in 13%. Mobile phones are used to play games in 43% of game households, tablet computers in 13%

* 43% of people aged 51 or over are garners

* most garners play between half an hour and an hour at a time and most play every other day 59% play for up to an hour at one time and just 3% play for five or more hours in one sitting 57% of all gamers play either daily or every other day.

* 83% of parents play video games. (1)

Comparable statistics are not available for board, tabletop and card games. This is unfortunate as, from word of mouth, board games are very popular. The German, or European, style games have strong appeal for adults. Games in this category include Settlers of Catan (2) and Carcassone. (3) Board games can be used as part of an education program exploring games, game design, history, and strategy. They could also be used to introduce adults to games they did not play when they were growing up--and that is just the start of what is possible.

Ann Arbor District Library

Ann Arbor District Library is successfully running a summer game instead of a summer reading program. (4) The target group is anyone who is a member of the library. The game play involves many different elements. You can earn points if you

* attend an AADL Event, get a code, and redeem the code for 200-500 points, depending on the event

* add tags to any item in our catalog for 10 points

* give a star rating to any item in our catalog for 10 points. Get 50 points for rating items that are in your checkout history!

* write a review of any item in our catalog for 50 points

* create and share a new public list for 50 points

* add an item to one of your public lists for 10 points

* comment on any aadl.org blog post for 50 points. (5)

There are other ways of earning points, some to do with local studies collections, others to do with reading, others to do with visiting exhibitions at the library and commenting on them. This game encourages people to engage fully in interacting with the library because of the opportunity to earn points which lead to real world rewards. They also lead to people being more engaged in their library, and in their community. This is a game of learning. In 2011 the active participants aged from about six through to people in their seventies, and there were thousands of people playing this game. It also means that more of the community is learning and is engaged with their library.

This is a model other libraries can learn from. Ann Arbor District Library uses Drupal to run the game, and staff expertise in game design. This game has no stated age limits on play, and the interactions are designed to appeal to a wide range of people in the community. People will enjoy different parts of the game. This is an important element as it means you can play the game the way you want, and there are not barriers to participation. This is a game designed for the whole community.

By week six of the game in 2012

   14,626 BADGES this year! And this is only week 6!
   In addition to all those badges, you've all earned
   27.5 million points in this year's summer game.

which highlights the enthusiasm for this game. (6) The Ann Arbour game, with its badges, is reflective of GetGlue. (7) However, it has library specific quests to help people explore collections and services. …

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Learning through Play: Games and Crowdsourcing for Adult Education
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