A very successful Comenius project is the first version of Augmented Age of Inventions.
The 2013-1-ES1-COM06-73497-6 Comenius 2013-15 project, The Amazing Game of the Ancient European Trails (www.agaet.com) was initially based in a Project Based Learning approach, but as the stages were following we were aware of the birth of Gamification methodology not only as sales motivator in the world of marketing, but as full strategy for the classroom, and a powerful motivator and shared interest for the students of so many different countries and backgrounds. This project was one of the very few awarded at the same time as example of good practice and success story.
We felt the international group of students was speaking the same language when they were chatting about their preferences in video games or even playing together in-between the learning activities and workshops, and we realized the many possibilities of gamification when linked to CLIL and EFL/DaF in the last stage of the project -the play of the game using living counters, dresses and complements in the gardens of the Royal Palace of Caserta (Italy).
We realized the importance of team building activities to scaffold and achieve the best of collaboration as well, both among the pupils attending the different learning activities of the project meetings as among the international team of teachers, and videogame-like strategies would be a creative and innovative approach for teens.
It was just this last stage which has given us the idea of improving and completing the previous one: CLILHeroes aim was extending the theme of the game to the concept of didactics, helped by dramatization and mobile technology to achieve our goals. The experience of foreign language and theater teachers shows us that asking students to act in a short sketch gives far better results than simply asking them to write or doing grammar exercises, as the motivating factor of their performance gives them the right inducement to accept the studying effort.
After research in the internet, we didn’t found enough evidence of the development of projects blending gamification and CLIL even in an international level, and we decided it was worth to launch a Erasmus+ project to develop the new ideas coming from the very last stage of the game. The collaboration among the EFL, CLIL and DaF teachers has been core, improved by the unplanned lead of technologies teachers and participation of ELE teachers (Español como lengua extranjera). Both the international team of teachers and the students of the AGAET project are longlife friends. It has been great to collaborate together again! And a new project might be approved soon: many good ideas and unexpected outcomes came up, encouraging us to write a new proposal.
Heroes, Castles, Legends and CLIL gamification, the second version of Augmented Age of Inventions
The motto of project 2016‐1‐ES01‐KA219‐024958 are the legends existing around most of the castles in Europe and the similarities they show even in very different countries, from North to South, from Baltic to Mediterranean sea. Nearly all of the legends and mythologies existing in the world are based in The Journey of the Hero pattern and archetypes, exactly the same as in most of high-end videogames.
Storytelling is an essential part of any good game, and most video games strategies, tests, trials and problem-solving can be reproduced in immersive, living size games to be played in real castles.
A good way to start active cooperation is looking for contact points, which may be found in the teenagers’ field of action, playing the kids’ favourite role: game, and more specifically, video games. All of them love games, many of them spend hours playing online video games in very large international teams or so-called Clans, and the slang linked to videogames or e-games is like a teen’s international new language. Why not to use all of this as English/foreign language learning enhancer?
Players/pupils provided stories to give them context as to what they are doing. The importance of learning a second language has been outlined by the students during the project as they prepared products and played the game. Challenging activities make students learn subconsciously while having entertainment and assessment/feedback was immediate: if answers are right, the game follows. According to latest research and to teachers everyday experience, positive feelings like enjoyment or fun, support better schoolwork leading to academic achievent. Emotions also play a surprisingly large role in children’s motivations for electronic game use.
The development of a game is a complex project, and makes a great subject for conversations and to create engaging classroom activities. Pupils are eager to share their world with understanding adults and a very special relationship with them becomes after. They love to show their expertise and to find appreciation for this matter both from teachers and from peers, and emotional links get reinforced after talking with them. This leads to a boost of motivation as they feel empowered and listened to.
The experience was highly enjoyable, and also of great pedagogical value. During the project life span, the team of teachers really was missing to deepen more into the many possibilities that heritage monuments offer as learning spaces because the magnificent background of castles was intended morely to provide a more immersive experience. So the next project focused more into heritage and technology.
Augmented Age of Inventions and Discoveries, the augmented version of CLILHeroes
An unplanned spinoff was the use of Augmented Reality, allowing a more technological approach and the contribution of new partners (Holland and Finland instead of Italy and Malta). Whenever application for 2016 Erasmus+ projects was open, use of Augmented Reality was not a possibility for people without advanced coding skills, and we planned activities without IT support. Metaverse platform was released in the second half of the project lifespan, and EU mobile roaming was not a burden anymore, so we used mobile technology as support to solve our issues to play in open spaces.
Mobile Augmented Reality platforms like Metaverse or Aurasma and data roaming facilities enable better interactions among teams and cultural heritage background. Only a mobile device and a data connection is needed, opposite to Virtual Reality that isolates players and requires VR glasses.
In games, films, theater and legends there are heroes and villains, clans and groups -even international at online video games- who collaborate to overcome risks and trials. Face to face collaboration is key to develop soft skills and improve learning: corrections for speaking are facilitated by students at the first instance!