Over four hundred Vocational Education and Training experts and students interviewed in online surveys and focus groups in six countries, and forty-eight best practices in game-based learning collected: these are the numbers of the transnational research “Game-Based Learning: Best Practices and Requirements for Digital Environments” carried out by the consortium of the Sparks project, strategic partnership co-funded by the Erasmus Plus Programme of the European Union. The research, led by the Spanish company Femxa Formación, was implemented by Lascò SRL in Italy, KEAN in Greece, BCLIT in Romania, the Center for Innovative Education (CIE) in Poland and ECOS in Portugal.
The research has followed three phases.
- The first phase was the identification and collection of 48 best practices in game-based learning and gamification experiences, such as eight best practices from each of the EU countries of the Sparks consortium, following a common set of criteria.
- In the second phase, the consortium developed an online survey as a quantitative research tool to validate the key game mechanics, dynamics, components, and game features found as success factors of the best practices collected. The survey was disseminated in the six countries to collect the input of 304 experts in education and training, validating the best practices with incredibly successful results. None of the key elements included in the survey received an average below an 83% of high ratings (4 or 5).
- In the third phase, ten Focus Groups were implemented, aiming at gathering the requirements and needs in digital environments of the VET providers and learners. The activities were celebrated with 144 educators and learners from different backgrounds of the VET community from the six EU countries that hosted 24 participants each.
Lastly, the best practices and validated game features and the results of the discussions developed during the Focus Groups were comparatively analyzed by the expert researchers of the six organizations, concluding in a transnational final report.
The research results (available here) will be used by the consortium’s research team to identify the process and system features and the game elements to transfer into a Conceptual Framework for Gamified e-Learning Programs, second Intellectual Output of the project, which will provide the structure to plan and design gamified e-Learning Programs, as a step-by-step guide for VET providers that want to gamify their online teaching. Ultimately, the Framework will constitute the basis for the development of templates of gamified e-learning programs and an e-learning platform for VET teachers and trainers to create and deliver them.