AGILE PRACTICES THROUGH SERIOUS GAMES IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Agile processes refer to the flexible design of a product or service through processes where the design and implementation phases are interweaved. Agile processes are most useful in situations where the design of a product cannot finalized before implementation begins for reasons that may include fluid customer requirements and expectations or the need to prototype and evaluate small versions of the product or service in order to ensure that it addresses effectively the needs of the target users. Agile processes are common in software engineering but could benefit the implementation of any product the design of which requires close collaboration between the customer and the implementation team and a good understanding of evolving user requirements. Agile processes are typically applied in small implementation teams that manifest good expertise and close collaboration among their members . They are more beneficial in small to medium sized projects. Scaling agile processes often involves their integration with more traditional methods of project implementation management.
The LEAP project aims to expose higher education engineering students to agile industrial processes with which they are likely to be engaged upon entering the world of work in innovation related sectors. LEAP aims to develop awareness among higher education students on the principles of agile design and to build the practical skills that will enable them to deploy agile practices in work contexts. LEAP prepares students to transition into the professional world by exposing them to industry practices in the context of their coursework, contributing to bridging the gap between the worlds of education and work.
LEAP achieves this objective by developing a serious game that challenges students to consider situations where agile processes introduce added value in product implementation as a result of their flexibility. The proposed serious game is based on active learning design through which students learn through experience by practicing skills in an environment that simulates actual professional practices. The LEAP learning game includes a number of educational scenarios inspired by real-world processes. By engaging with these scenarios students build knowledge on the benefits of agile design. At the same time they build problem solving capacity, critical thinking, and collaboration skills. The scenarios include: an introduction to the concept of technical debt that is often referenced in agile processes, organization of a warehouse, personal space, or office, agile urban design for optimizing, for example, traffic, agile agriculture for reaching the best possible conditions in a field, and others.
The LEAP serious learning game will be evaluated in learning experiments that engage students in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Estonia, and the UK. The project is funded under the ERASMUS+ scheme, KA2 for Higher Education, and runs from 2017 to 2019.