NoviCraft Case: University of Leeds
University of Leeds is a highly reputable school with close to 31 000 students from over 140 different countries. The highly varied cultural backgrounds of the university’s students sparked an idea with Sierk A. Horn, a Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies: “I have an interest in intercultural management and wanted to explore the possibility of extending NoviCraft to such scenarios”, he explains. The first international, online NoviCraft gaming session with students from the University of Leeds in the UK and the University of Oulu in Finland was arranged in the spring of 2013. Today, after many more gaming sessions, Mr. Horn agrees on the benefits of the game: “NoviCraft has offered an excellent extension to our curriculum and the sessions have been hugely successful”, he states.
NoviCraft has offered an excellent extension to our curriculum and the sessions have been hugely successful
After each game Mr. Horn instructs his students to write self-reflective essays and collaborative presentations on the experience, which have shown that the students benefit greatly from participating in the game. According to Mr. Horn, NoviCraft has succeeded well in bringing forward the opportunities and challenges of real life team work in a way that improves the students’ level of learning. “My students are really excited to collaborate with students across national borders. NoviCraft is a wonderful tool to raise cross-cultural awareness as well as self-awareness. Additionally, I think that this format is very attractive for younger cohorts such as students”.
NoviCraft is a wonderful tool to raise cross-cultural awareness as well as self-awareness.
The communications between the two universities during the NoviCraft sessions’ have been easily arranged via Skype, which also accurately represents today’s way of doing business across borders. Having completed several successful NoviCraft sessions, University of Leeds is looking forward to arranging many more gaming sessions in the future.
NoviCraft Case: Oulu University, Oulu Business School
Oulu Business School, an AACSB accredited top business and economics education unit in Northern Finland, is one of the six faculties within the University of Oulu, the second largest multidisciplinary university in Finland. With 1400 students and 100 staff members it is solely responsible for the University level Business Education in the whole of Northern Finland (the provinces of Oulu and Lapland; an area covering half of Finland). Oulu Business School takes pride in constantly improving its business education, for example through pedagogically varying education. Thus, games have become an integral part of learning at the Oulu Business School.
Professor of International Business and Head of Department, Petri Ahokangas, D.Sc. (Economics and Business Administration), has since 2011 used the NoviCraft team education game in his Cross-Cultural Leadership course. Both university students and corporate managers studying at the Oulu Business School’s International Research and Education Institute, the Martti Ahtisaari Institute of Global Business and Economics, have participated on NoviCraft games during this course. These multicultural learning events have witnessed excited participants from Europe and Asia as well as North and South America.
According to Dr. Ahokangas, playing NoviCraft with an international group of students shows the phenomena related to individual roles and group dynamics as well as their cultural contexts in a fascinating way. Whether the players come from the same or a different cultural background, it can be concluded that the more unfamiliar they are with each other, the more can learned about the principles of teamwork through NoviCraft.
NoviCraft helps individuals analyze their own actions and recognize their strengths and weaknesses in the role of a team member.
The players become highly aware of the importance of team dynamics and communication, when they learn through trial and error, what kinds of actions will allow the team to advance in the game. “NoviCraft helps individuals analyze their own actions and recognize their strengths and weaknesses in the role of a team member. A player cannot pretend to be something that he/she is not, and therefore from an educational point of view it is important that the player understands his/her own role and way of acting in difficult situations”, Dr. Ahokangas explains. He continues by saying that especially corporate managers have found it very interesting to notice that by loosening control and giving space for their subordinates the set objectives can be reached more easily. Dr. Ahokangas finds it important that the game not only simulates real life teamwork, but also allows players to make mistakes. Self-reflection conducted after the game helps clarify what players have learned and gives feedback for further development.
Preparing the technical side of the sessions takes only a half an hour.
Dr. Ahokangas has arranged several NoviCraft gaming sessions throughout the years. His students have heard about the unusual teaching method and are eagerly anticipating the participation to a NoviCraft gaming session as part of the Cross-Cultural Leadership course. Feedback from students has been positive and the game as a learning method has been welcomed as a fantastic idea. As for the actual arrangements, Dr. Ahokangas finds them easy: ”Preparing the technical side of the sessions takes only a half an hour. If I am very busy myself, I outsource the task to LudoCraft.”
NoviCraft Case: University of Jyväskylä, School of Business and Economics
The University of Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics (JSBE) hosts 1100 students, 170 doctoral students and over 100 staff members. The school is characterized by internationality and up-to-date study offering across all fields, including Accounting, Marketing, and Management and Leadership. JSBE began using NoviCraft with a three-year contract in 2013. Gaming sessions have been run by a certified NoviCraft trainer, Elina Riivari, who is a doctoral student of Management and Leadership.
The learning theories behind the game assured us that the game really could work in a university level education – –
Jyväskylä Business School wanted to apply new teaching methods to complement the traditional ones. “We wanted to see how a learning game would work as a course exercise instead of traditional exercise. The learning theories behind the game assured us that the game really could work in a university level education and that it could offer us a new way of linking theory with real life work”, Riivari explains.
Novelty does not automatically mean improvement to old methods: Tools that support the teacher’s basic work must be integrated as part of the greater plan. “Students have given mainly positive feedback about the game: it offers new, meaningful, shared learning experiences for students. Previous course assignment was more theoretical, which may have resulted in only a partial understanding of the theory’s implementation in real life context. When playing the game you tackle the issue from a different point of view, i.e. you are testing how teamwork really works.”
Meaningful experiences surely strengthen learning – –
Entertainment does not have an intrinsic value in studying, nor can a game guarantee success, for an effort put into one’s quality of work is always needed in order to succeed. However, good and interesting experiences in a gamified learning environment reinforce the learning experience. “Meaningful experiences surely strengthen learning and also possibly increase the level of interest towards the subject”, concludes Riivari.
New technology often raises concerns about IT-systems. However, NoviCraft has been designed to be easily installed even in rigid environments. “LudoCraft offered us technical and mental support when installing and running the game for the first time. Technical help has been easily available when needed, both from LudoCraft and our own IT-support team”, says Riivari. A maintenance free and technically easy game has allowed both students and teachers to concentrate fully on the gamified learning event.