2 Uniwersytet Lodzki (POLAND)
3 AP Hogeschool Antwerpen (BELGIUM)
5 CityLink Haarlem (NETHERLANDS)
6 Hochschule Nordhausen (GERMANY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 9194-9200
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.1852
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
JEU: Let’s play together for the European Union is a project financed by Erasmus+ under contract n.º 2019 - 1 - FR01 - KA201 – 062510. The project focuses on three topics, crucial to the European Union. They are citizen/civil rights and duties, cyberbullying/sexism and plastic soup. The main focus is to develop a serious game to be used in schools to raise awareness on these topics.

The project was naturally impacted by the SARS-COV-2 virus and resulting COVID-19 illness. The consecutive lockdowns imposed throughout Europe made it impossible to organize the planned live mobility of students and staff. In JEU there was a mobility scheduled for March 2020 in Antwerp. Such mobility was initially delayed and later converted into online mobility. The online mobility took place between the 15th of March and the 20th of March 2021. The solution put in place is based on the experience of the Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) involved in the project. In fact, being involved in other projects that also involve mobilities of both students and staff, similar impacts were felt before by some of the participating organizations.

In J.C. Monteiro et all., “JEU: From blended mobility to online mobility,” presented at the 15th annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference, 2021, INTED 2021, a description is made about the procedures adopted to shift the blended mobility to an online mobility. In that article, the planned schedule was presented and a full description of the preparations for the mobility as well as the mobility itself was also made. It refers to the use of a virtual learning environment (VLE), a video conferencing platform and a social virtual environment (SVE). The VLE was already there, updated and gamified, ready to accept students and inform them of the learning content in an appealing format. As COVID warped the educational scene into video conferencing, a commonly accepted video conferencing platform was selected and installed. This platform served as the headquarters of all communication and collaboration since most participants were already used to this working method. Additionally, the platform is connected with the VLE and the SVE. Our true bravery lies in the creation of a series of interconnected virtual reality spaces that would provide us means to be socially active. In this virtual realm, we are able to organize expeditions to discover the various spaces, conferencing halls, a lake and a forest, an underwater classroom and a Tiki bar, an alien planet and a space station. All these spaces allowed for easy sharing of screens and cameras, presenting for an audience of avatars, parallel conversations, informal contacts, play. The SVE was new to all participants and implied several challenges.

This paper reports on our findings. It will describe the robustness and performance of the suite and how actions balanced out between online learning, video conferencing and virtual reality experiences. The main question we wish to answer is if the suite was able to support and nurture social contact and collaboration, empowering all participants to immerse, focus and stay in contact with each other. These results will influence upcoming mobilities in the project. Secondly and more critical to the outcome of the project, did the students succeed in creating and developing bright game concepts, valuable and feasible, ready to be embellished into proper working games.
Serious Game, Citizenship, Active Learning, COVID-19.