OPEN FORUM FOR LEARNING GAMES IN ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
Tampere University of Applied Sciencies (FINLAND)
In this paper a web-based Eliademy platform for supporting learning of basic theories of electrical engineering is presented. This game forum is intended to anyone who is interested in learning or teaching the basics of electrical engineering. The topics cover so far calculating current, voltage and power in DC series circuits and selecting correct formulas to calculate different connections of resistors.
The platform contains a set of small scale learning games that are intended to make the abstract topics interesting and living for students. The theory of electrical engineering is one of the most challenging topics at Finnish universities of applied sciencies.
The games apply Ohm´s law and two Kirchhoff´s laws. A single game limits the attention of the player to a specific problem setting that he/she is expected to understand and learn. The game gives hints how to proceed and tries to make playing pleasant enough to engage the player with electrotechnical concepts and to apply them.
There is also automatic and immediate feedback to make playing more interesting and rewarding. The player will know whether his/her answer was correct or not. Knowing the success will eventually increase motivation and guide the learning process to better understanding of the concepts under study.
Playing this kind of games will form an emotionally safe learning environment for a beginner who is uncertain about the logic of electrotechnical thinking. The possibility to repeat the thinking process by oneself as many times as needed is essential. Many games operate with relatively small integer values so that no calculator is needed. This saves time and helps the player to concentrate to the key concepts. Some games include the possibility to choose whether the game duration affects the credit points. This makes it possible for the player to compete with himself/herself. On the other hand, several players may compete with each other which makes playing even more fun.
The learning games presented here can be seen as an application of participatory pedagogy. They also support mobile learning in the sense that the programmes operate even in a normal PC laptop with the very common MS Power Point office programme. A single learning game forms an individual learning environment but also a shared environment when needed since it is easy to guide students to work in small groups at one computer. The games presented here are compatible with many kinds of pedagogical strategies and lesson plans.
Preliminary test with a group of about five teachers of electrical engineering at Tampere University of Applied Sciences in spring 2015 was very promising. The games seem to engage the players to electrotechnical thinking which is the main goal of this development.
The programme code has been written by MS VBA (or Visual Basic for Applications) behind it. The learning games shared include a CC licence. The games can be used by students or teachers alike as long as there are no commercial purposes. The Eliademy platform under development is free for users and it will be published in December 2015 in the following address: https://eliademy.com/app/a/courses/b5a45ac039