This first week of testing the mobile portion of Explorez here at UVic was exciting! Students created their ARIS accounts, and were then ready to head out of the lab and begin their adventure. The international language setting of the iPhone and iPads was changed to French, in order to facilitate learning new vocabulary. Explorez consists of 3 levels with at least two quests per level, and no two teams chose the same path through the quests. On average, the teams completed two quests in the allotted 50 minutes. One team continued to play for an additional 10 minutes, because they were determined to finish their current quest.
When I mentioned to another team that their time was almost finished (one of these students had a class right after the session & I didn’t want her to be late), instead of heading back to the lab right then, they decided together to walk faster, so that they could complete their current quest.
It was very encouraging to hear students laugh and see them smile while playing Explorez. They made great efforts to speak in French, as they maneuvered the interface of ARIS, exploring the quest log, their game inventory, and the game map, collaborating to decide their next step in the game. At times this resulted in a sign language form of communication when they lacked a vocabulary word in French. Interestingly, although at the beginning of the session I mentioned, and then also demonstrated to them on the devices, the available online tools they could use to look up vocabulary, not a single student chose to do so while playing the game. What did result however was a sociocultural learning effect; a more advanced student helped the lesser-advanced one navigate the system or quest, and supplied the necessary word or information.
I was delighted to see the students’ enthusiasm, efforts, and interactions with the game and each other as they play-tested Explorez. Some encouraging student comments, as they ended this week’s sessions were: “This is fun!” “This is useful.” “It’s great getting out of the classroom and learning.” However, my favorite comment this week was from a student that French is his third language, and English is his second. During the quest to discover available French resources on campus, he was taking pictures of the locations, interacting with the ARIS interface with ease, and every time he collected a new badge or item, he would open his game inventory to examine it. At the end of this quest he seemed very excited, and you could see the wheels turning in his head, as he searched for what he wanted to say in French. He began a French sentence several times, and then in his excitement switched over to English and said, with a huge grin on his face “ I LIKE your game! It is very interesting!”
I’m looking forward to another eventful week of testing!
Bernadette Perry (@BernadettePer14)