Dr Neil Peirce – Learnovate technology lead graduates.

by Peter Gillis

November 14, 2013

Our sincere best wishes to Dr Neil Peirce who graduated on Friday the 8th of November. Neil is an original Learnovate team member and will be familiar to a lot of our members and associates as one of our technology leads. Neil’s PhD thesis was in the area of Technology Enhanced Learning and was titled “The Non-invasive Personalisation of Educational Video Games”.

The abstract for Neil’s thesis reads as follows; Educational video games present a progressive approach to technology enhanced learning that offer intrinsically rewarding experiences, high interactivity, an environment with low-risk of failure, and the freedom and flexibility to illustrate educational concepts. In addition to the benefits of game- based learning the consideration of varying abilities and preferences has long been recognised as a significant factor in learning. In addressing this, the use of personalisation that tailors the learning to the individual, has been extensively used within Intelligent Tutoring Systems, and Adaptive Hypermedia.

The incorporation of personalisation into educational video games presents the possibility of an intrinsically motivating learning experience that is also tailored to each individual learner. However, this integration presents considerable design challenges as there emerge potentially conflicting objectives. Most notably the desire to maintain an engaging game can conflict with the desire to adapt the game to benefit learning. In order to preserve the benefits of game-based learning the personalisation must be considerate of the game’s storyline, character consistency, and character plausibility.

In essence the personalisation must be non-invasive to the gaming experience. This thesis proposes a novel four-stage approach to the non-invasive personalisation of educational video games. This approach not only ensures that are all adaptations are non-invasive to the game being adapted it also achieves this in a flexible and reusable manner. Through loosely coupling the video game with the personalisation that adapts it, the Adaptive Learning In Games through Non-invasion (ALIGN) system facilitates the independent authoring of the game and the personalisation strategies.

This separation further enables the reuse of ALIGN across multiple games effectively reducing the development costs of personalised games. To evaluate and validate this research the ALIGN system was trialled with contrasting games both in terms of their game style and learning content. Through the use of authentic user trials the ALIGN system was shown to represent a progression towards the effective reuse of personalisation across adaptive educational games.