Collaborative Design in Extension- Using a Modified Game J…

measures. This type of research is often done in the preparatory phases of game design: where they identify the need, propose educational intervention, and refine what needs to happen to create the change. As informal educators, Extension specialists and agents often have unique and valuable expertise in their clientele’s experiences and can articulate what has worked with content, and what hasn’t worked when it comes to changing behavior. Finally, at their core, Extension professionals are designers of educational experiences — from creating workshops to designing publications or writing scripts for media, Extension specialists and agents are centered in creating interventions that work. NMSU’s Learning Games Lab In the Innovative Media Research and Extension department, Extension educational technology experts and professional developers in the Learning Games Lab develop a wide range of digital media tools: video, animation, websites, virtual labs, apps, and games. Because of the unique nature of their work, they frequently partner with content experts at other universities and in the Extension network to create educational media in various disciplines, often funded by grants. They function like a non-profit, digital media studio. All of their work is research-based: from formative research to inform the interventions and test products throughout development, to summative research to measure the impact or document processes used. Because all products developed in the Learning Games Lab are designed to create some kind of a change in the user, the team traditionally uses a design summit to move through the educational design process. Developers, researchers, and content experts work together by immersing themselves in the content area and the tools used to address that content. Using the “Transformational Design Process” (Chamberlin & Schell, 2018), they refine the objectives to define the change needed in the user, identify what learners have to do to create that change, and discuss ways in which a game or other type of media can engage the user in the necessary actions. The design summit ends with documentation for all partners to review and a process for moving forward in production. The proposed work is often driven by specific parameters, such as the final budget or timeline. The team builds around who the audience is, the ways in which the product is used, and the scope of the work. The content experts or external clients have usually defined their initial goals, budget, and audience for the team, and they share that at the start of the design summit. Often, this design summit takes two or three days, but it can be done over the course of a few meetings. Once the design process is complete, the team usually moves into a production process, which can take several months, and then begins work on distribution, support, and marketing or placement of developed games. University of Connecticut (UConn) and Extension Foundation UConn received funding through the Extension Foundation’s New Technologies in Agricultural Extension (NTAE) program to create a game that educates consumers about food marketing labels. Expertise on the UConn team includes nutrition, biotechnology, agricultural production, youth development, and communications. The team focused on the non-GMO food marketing label and an intended audience of mothers and primary grocery shoppers who may be overspending on food with non-GMO marketing labels. The UConn team wanted to explore game-based learning as an educational outreach tool for the intended audience. Content experts from UConn Extension approached Extension developers from the NMSU Learning Games Lab with a request for a game. They had already established broad goals for what they wanted their game to accomplish. They wanted to do some initial design work with startup funding to better understand what kinds of outcomes their game could lead to and to define the scope (and ultimately the budget and timeline) of a larger effort. They also wanted to review initial ideas for games with potential learners and refine who their audience should be. Given their budget of less than $12,000 and a timeline of only a few months, the combined team agreed to engage in a design prototyping project, rather than a full development project.


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