10 August 2017
Academic conferences are the right place to meet like-minded people and advance your own research by discussing, testing, presenting. This was the mind-set when I decided to submit the first paper from my PhD module 1 in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning.

As a matter of fact once I found out about the call from my professors, I immediately made a priority out of it. My main focus is to create synergies through my research and the best way to do so is by exposing the ideas to the peer community.

The presentation was about 'Cyber security education in public administration: case study on gamification methods used in Europe'. The purpose of this research is to analyse the status of cyber security gamification solutions and identify best practices for their potential re-use. This qualitative case study explores gamification solutions and their uses in Europe. The data gathering phase revealed from practitioners what previous literature is pointing to: great potential, but not yet a high adoption rate.  For example in the graph below you can read a mapping of questions asked and the findings.

Diagram representing case study on gamification methods used in Europe

The data gathered points to very interesting finding for a small scale project and it reflects a not so dynamic reality for public administration especially in the age where Digital Agenda recommendations suggest use of new technologies and interactive methods for increase of skills or 'up-skilling'.  Also a time when 'doing more with less' is the rule of the game.  In terms of common gamification strategies used there is a tendency towards simulations, quizzes and exercise, competitions (Capture the Flag, Bug Bounty, etc), this not being a new trend but rather being in the consolidation and gaining more complexity.   In terms of technology nothing surprising since like in majority of online services the preference is for scalable technology, neutral to be used on cross-platforms, attractive and responsive.  In terms of why is gamification used data shows reasons like usability, efficient enabler of knowledge aquisitions, learning-by-failure approach. In terms of useful technical features there is a tendency of playing on instant gratification culture where we have immediate rewards like visibility, peer to peer recognition, building up a reputation (Hall of Fame, ranking, statistics), creating a new 'wave'.

The data presented may develop on further implications that I did not see before. For example, since I also work in cyber security awareness I thought that we have better cooperation on gamification with more resources available; however this proved not to be the case. Probably a larger mapping is needed to discover gamified solution that exist but 'are un-known'. An opportunity would be to identify those solutions and support their scale-up. 

At EDULEARN'17 I had valuable advice from international fellows that experienced gamification in their organisations, tested virtual reality and augmented reality. One idea was to look deeper at hackathons and see their usage. Also to consider the IT infrastructure for new technology gaming, if not proper equipped the investment in educational content would be in vain.

There was a marathon of ideas and some of them will be mirrored 'forever' on twitter with the #EDULEARN17 hashtag.

I would like to point to a great talk called Courageous Edventures given by Jennie Magiera (Des Plaines School District 62, USA) on how educators are like 'wizards aka The Hobbit' and the adventure is about convincing, testing and failing. In the end the battle is won by changing attitudes for the long term. 

In conclusion this conference was about:

  • Fluidity of ideas and rich discussions
  • International exposure and exchange of practices from Europe to Asia to North America to South America to Australia to Africa
  • Playing within well framed spaces of hands-on workshops
  • Using technology to build a better educational experience, see the video prepared with The Animation Workshop DK fellow delegate  
  • Unleashing animations for education
  • Visiting a beautiful city and a great country

I recommend to anyone going to the next editions to prepare in advance a stack of cards, be ready for full participation in numerous sessions and exchange as many ideas as possible. It is a very enriching ecosystem.  Thank you to: Professor Don Passey and Dr. Kyungmee Lee, University of Lancaster; all respondents to the research survey and interview; peer reviewers.