1 University of Patras (GREECE)
2 University of Patras & CTI Diophantus (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 747-756
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0206
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
In this work, we present a collection of serious games for explaining complex ideas from computer science, i.e., algorithms, to a general audience, particularly focusing on secondary education students.

Our motivation is two-fold. One the one hand, as far as computing is concerned, secondary education emphasizes more on skills training in the use of software packages rather than on revealing the intellectual elegance, beauty and depth of the algorithms underlying modern digital technology. On the other hand, despite the fact that we all witness the amazing evolution of technology and how it continuously transforms our society there is still little awareness regarding the fundamental concepts that make all this possible and the impressive ideas lying at the heart of computer science that we use every day.

In this context, we decided to develop simple yet interesting games for presenting the essence of selected algorithms that we all use extremely frequently in our everyday digital activities. Games, and in particular Serious Games, can significantly enhance the learning process, by entertaining players while keeping them engaged. Furthermore, game-based learning requiring non-trivial effort on behalf of the players can significantly improve the learning outcome by raising awareness, critical and computational thinking and leveraging players' imagination.

Our game collection entitled “The adventures of little Bob” includes 3 games, namely "Who is at the top", "Escape the haunted house" and "Find and correct the error". Our games are mainly addressed to high school students but also to audience engaged with technology with no prior knowledge of computer science. They are responsive and developed using Articulate Storyline 360. Interested players can either play online or download a copy and play locally. "Who is at the top" touches the fundamental concepts of search engines and outlines the main ideas of the original version of Google’s pagerank algorithm. "Escape the haunted house" sketches how public key cryptography ensures that secure communication can be established over internet by presenting the Diffie-Hellman key exchange scheme devised to make the establishment of secure internet sessions possible. "Find and correct the error" focuses on error correcting codes which are used for the detection and correction of errors during data store or transmission in such a transparent and efficient way that we are never even realizing them.

“The adventures of little Bob” can perhaps make an interesting approach to shedding light on the fascinating ideas behind the algorithms that we actually exploit many times every day when using our smartphone, tablet or laptop for performing a Google search or storing and transmitting many gigabytes of data without even a single mistake or when making successful online transactions, without even realizing it. After all, a deep understanding of underlying algorithms and the promotion of computational thinking can be essential for our society to remain human centered while truly exploiting the enormous potential of the ongoing 4th industrial revolution.
Algorithms, games, storyline, secondary education, computer science for general audience.