1 Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BULGARIA)
2 Institute of Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 3940-3945
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.1002
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
New strategies for teaching and learning point to new approaches and methods in the process of youth education. Embracing the premise that experience is the best teacher, we develop methods and scenarios for deeper understanding, creative thinking, learning-by-doing and learning-by-authoring. Our purpose is to engage learners in more active participation during the acquisition of knowledge. Following this idea, we decided to introduce Thracian Civilization and Culture to students by means of a serious educational game. (The Thracians were Indo-European tribes who inhabited a large area in ancient Eastern and South-eastern Europe in the second – first mill. BC). The process of the game’s creation is the subject of this paper.

The game is defined declaratively in terms of both structure and learning content. To facilitate the illustration and understanding of this ancient culture’s unique features, we have used linked multimedia cultural resources. The game, aptly and succinctly named “The Thracians”, focuses on their lifestyle, beliefs and traditions. The information provided in the game derives from ancient documents, architecture, artefacts unearthed during archaeological excavations, and from scholarly research by Bulgarian specialists. Exploring the chambers of the structure excavated beneath Ostrousha mound (in the Valley of the Thracian Kinds near the town of Kazanlak, Bulgaria), learners discover for themselves and retain knowledge about key characteristics of Thracian culture such as Thracian cult architecture (tombs, heroons, and sanctuaries), Thracian weapons, jewellery and treasures discovered by archaeologists.

The first part of the paper is a short presentation of the “serious games” learning method, which successfully helps instructors to motivate student learning, curiosity, creative and logical thought, problem-solving, as well as develop a variety of skills and competencies. The next section provides description of the game design, mainly with respect to learning content and mini-games embedded into the chambers. The educational and assessing learning outcomes aims to motivate the player by solving interesting learning tasks, riddles, puzzles, and tests. Some details about game mechanics, and mini-games aiming at higher playability and better learning outcomes are included. Initial experimental results have been achieved, and they show high levels of immersion, followed by presence in virtual environment, flow, and absorption.

The tests conducted in Secondary schools in Sofia among students of age 10-13 years old show great interest towards the game that introduced to them the Thracian culture and civilization in this new to the Bulgarian education system method. For the first time instead of reading the textbook they study by playing a game.
Serious Games, Gamification, Thracian Civilization, Media Resources for Education.