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Around an inspiring virtual learning world in eighty days (80Days)
Start date: Apr 1, 2008, End date: Sep 30, 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Description 80DAYS has developed a demonstrator for a compelling game to support learning and teaching geography.Project GoalsThe European research project 80Days is inspired by Jules Verne’s novel “Around the world in eighty days”. The project ran from April 2008 to September 2010 and aimed at developing psycho-pedagogical and technological foundations for successful digital educational games - successful in terms of educational effectiveness as well as financial turnovers.The focus of psycho-pedagogical research efforts was a scientifically sound framework for a non-invasive assessment of knowledge and learning progress embedded in a game and a subsequent comprehensive adaptation to the learner on micro and macro levels. The micro level refers to subtle educational interventions such as feedback or hinting within specific learning situations. The macro level, on the other hand, refers to an educationally appropriate sequencing and pacing of learning situations tailored to the individual learner. Final ResultsDuring the project, the consortium made significant progress by elaborating a joint formal model of cognitive assessment of learning progress (on the basis of Competence-based Knowledge Space Theory) on a probabilistic and non-invasive level, the provision of suitable support and interventions, and open interactive adaptive storytelling.From a technical point of view, an accurate analysis of learning and game design requirements was carried out and the results constituted the starting point for the study on system architectures and software modules that could best fulfill the requirements. Research in the area of open, interactive storytelling achieved a technical realisation of the developed formal model in form of a story engine that implements the psycho-pedagogical model and drives and adapts the game. Overall, psycho-pedagogical and technical efforts lead to a compelling demonstrator game for teaching geography. Significantly, this demonstrator also represents the substantial steps towards achieving a multi-adaptive system that not only adapts discrete elements of the game towards educational purposes, but also adapts the story to accommodate larger educational objectives.The demonstrator game teaches geography and follows European curricula. Its target audience is 12 to 14 year old students. In this adventure game a learner takes the role of an Earth kid. The game starts when an UFO lands in the backyard of a student's house and an alien named Feon contacts the player. Feon is an alien scout who has to collect information about Earth. The player assists the alien to explore the planet and to create a report about the Earth and its geographical features. This is accomplished by the player by flying to different destinations on Earth, exploring them, and collecting and acquiring geographical knowledge.Empirical findings yielded beneficial effect of playing the game, as evident and an overall satisfying usability and user experience. Implications for the future development of the game prototypes and the design of evaluative activities have been drawn. In particular, the theoretical knowledge and practical experience thus gained will contribute to advancing the research area of evaluating usability and user experience in digital educational games.

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