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Use Case Scenario: Social Science Module

University of the West of Scotland (UWS): use of the RUEU? game on a SCQF Level 8 year Social Science Module: Global Society to explore European Identity

Stakeholders

General Social Science students (including sub-disciplines such as politics, sociology, psychology, etc.), business students and associated academic staff are the envisoned stakeholders for this use case. The nature of the game, allows an immersive experience, engaging players in a variety of imagined settings and scenarios, requiring insight and understanding around issues such as the contemporary nation and state; aspects of beloning and  identity; global and regional inequalities; critiques of migration and forms of social and political participation.

The Global Society module is a blended learning module where lectures are delivered face-to-face and workshops are delivered either via face-to-face or online. The game is available online and could be managed and supported though any open source learning platform/ course management system (CMS) that is used to provide support for student learning. The intended target group of students for the RU EU? Game, are Higher Education Social Science and Business students across Europe for whom an understanding of national and European identity and values is highly relevant and embedding delivery within a module such as Global Society meets these objectives. At the same time, any suitable level 8 (Scottish Higher Education) module focusing on these or distinctly related issues would be appropriate.

Ultimately, engagement with the EUEU? Game provides players (as individual learners) and academic staff (as facilitators within an educational setting) the ability to consider core issues of current socio-political standing within an alternative and contemporary electronic platform that means learning takes place outside the traditional boundaries of a purely academic setting and personalises these issues and directly connects them with the student, as players within the game.

Narrative

The game cane be utilised in a variety of settings as it is broken down into five distinct scenarios, or mini game elements. The game can be played as either one single episode of one mini-game element, or a full set of five minigames – depending upon the time and focus available/appropriate to the educational experience. This allows for a differing level of not only engagement, but complexity of engagement and depth of approach.

Thus, the game can be designed by teaching staff to encapsulate one or two mini games, focusing on  particular aspects or perspectives of the wider game that enhances the educational experience of the module in question.  In Global Society this could be modified to focus specifically on the Brexit scenario, which captures the experience of students studying in the United Kingdom in general (and Scotland specifically).  In addition, the question of Who is European Anyway? Scenario could also add another layer to such a discussion (or provide for an alternative discussion).  Again, such discussions can take place within a traditional classroom setting, or in an distance learning, or blended format.

On a fuller scale, and perhaps designed across more than one teaching episode (or online teaching episodes) students could play all elements of the game, thus following the entire story thread of the game itself and engaging fully with all aspects of the issues raised within each element. While perhaps least suitable for shorter module foci, or for keepin full student engagement in one session, the game could provide a launching platform for a wider discission spread over several learning opportunities after it has been played.

The game also loans itself to geographical/political  emphasis for a learning opportunity, whereby specific elements can eb employed by country or regional zone,  or by appropriate roles and social norms regarding Europe.  This would help allow teaching staff to decide which element of th egame could be more appropriate and allow a more defined and effective learning experience.

Embedding in the course / education

Any social science module, such as Global Society, is a firm platform for the game itself, as such modules (and the game) introduces students to contemporary social and political issues and central concepts relating to the discussion of social, political, economic and cultural matters that are a key aspect of students lived existence. Again, both the game and a level 8 social science module such as Global Society develops individual and group understanding through the examination of debates about the process of socio-political change and modernisation with a particular focus on debates about globalisation, modernisation and political and social processes. Specifically the learning outcomes for the Global Society module are to:

  • Understand theories of contemporary global society
  • Understanding issues and debates in substantive topics regarding contemporary global society.
  • Evaluate theories of contemporary global society
  • Evaluate issues and debates in substantive topics regarding contemporary global society.

These elements directly link to an an understanding of national and European identity. Therefore, playing the game in any format – focused, or extended, can help students understand EU identity as a complex, multicomponent construct and how different components are evident in the polarised views about the EU.

Teaching staff can adapt the game as per the narrative above as exemplary teaching material during both traditional and blended/online learning opportunities.  The game thus provides actualized contemporary content that can be engaged with individually by students as players.  Then, in subsequent group working sessions, students can compare and contrast their individual experiences (and choices) to consider alternative approaches within what is a multi-faceted e-learning environment of the RUEU? Game.

(Learning) Activities and outcomes

The mainaim of the RU EU? game is to increase players’ awareness of, and understanding of, the complex nature of European identity, emphasizing the contrasting, contradictory and frequently conflict-ridden perceptions of different people’s views and to engage individual players (students) with their own perceptions and covert/over bias. A further aim was to increase players’ awareness of the different aspects of European identity (themes) that are evident in the varied views expressed both within the game, and any subsequent learning focused group discussion.

The RUEU? game includes activities that require players to encounter differing views about European identity and to engage in tasks requiring higher order thinking skills such as classification, analysis, synthesis, evaluation and judgement in making choices, evaluations and decisions about these differing opinions.

While playing the game students are asked to think around aspects of issues within each individual aspect of the scanrios.  Thus learning activities are embedded in differing formats within each scenario and can peforma variety of activties in each scenario in their own distinct order of sequence. Thus, students (as an individual player) are faced with information and material around a variety of themes, in differing styles and formats. The visualisation of potential outcomes via each individual scenario makes subsequent collaborative activity around discussion of responses, differing views and perspectives, both easier and quantifiable.

Furthermore, by utilising each scenario as either individual games within their own right, or by using the entire game set, students individually engage with issues that are relevant to their lived experience, including debates about aspects of contemporary ‘global’ society, such as the nation state, global inequalities, critiques of globalisation and forms of social interaction and political participation.

As the main focus of the content area for the RU EU? game is European identity, this was operationalised in the RU EU? game as a multi-component construct where 10 key components (themes) were selected to reflect the breadth and complexity of factors underlying European identity and provide an operational definition of European identity to be implemented in the game. The themes were: Social, Environment, Rights & Responsibilities, Security, Emotions, Jobs & Economy, Political, History, Culture & Geography.

After the individual gameplay, discussion on a variety of such related issues and questions (such as the selection of one set of themes versus another, the nature of argumentation employed within the game, and the individual selections by each plyer, can be discussed with a small group setting.  Working within groups from 4-8 individuals who have played the game, a varity of learning techniques could be employed to further engage students in both individual and peer self-relfection, again challenging individual choices and considering overt/covert bias.  Students are thus asked to think of where an understanding of national, European (or other forms of) identity could be important in modern society and their own socio-political space.

Students, when playing the game, are also encouraged to think about the questions used in the “intern” test. These were derived from the Eurobarometer survey (Favell, (2010/1) which looks at different components of European identity, such as geographical belonging, whether one thinks of oneself as a citizen of Europe, both now and in the future, the balance between thinking of oneself as a citizen of one’s own country but also as a citizen of Europe. The survey also asks about emotional identification with Europe with respect to attachment to Europe, closeness to Europe and pride in Europe.

Again, post-game collaborative engagement within a classroom (or online) setting allows for a considering of persepectives and individual attitudes across a peer setting. A peer group discussion around differences can allow for a deeper understanding of the various dilemmas and issues presented within the game and challange both the stance and position taking of individual players.

Ultimately, the game seeks to ensure that students (as players) initially consider their own attitudes and stances and then, after engaging with on or more scenarios (as considered appropriate within their educational setting) return to those attitudes and stances.  This can then be followed by appropriate group considerations as discussed above.  The ultimate objective is to make students think, both individually and collaboratively about whether they are indeed RUEU?