Click on the mouse to throw the dice and start to play this variation of Parcheesi, an ancient Indian game of crosses and circles. It’s called “1,2,3 Asthma”. Each team advances to move its four virtual counters around the board. To earn points along the way, you need to answer a number of questions about asthma, how to prevent it, control it and about what triggers the attacks. Questions vary in difficulty. Video and sound clips offer additional information and widen the players’ knowledge of asthma, the lung inflammation that affects the lives of 300 million people worldwide. There are games to suit health professionals, asthma sufferers, educators and even the ordinary citizens who just want to know more about the disease. Louise Sauvé is a doctor in educational technology and President and General Director of SAVIE, the Society for Lifelong Learning. She talked to us about “1,2,3 Asthma” and about the benefits of the game as a training tool.
Several years ago, Louise Sauvé used to attend meetings carrying a case weighing 35kg. She would take out hundreds of games and offer them to teachers hoping to encourage them to think up other games themselves, using the models they had in front of them. Today, Dr Sauvé has traded in her case for a PC and she can now offer thousands of games. Her aim remains the same, but the possibilities are endless.
[callout title=Educational Games Central]Games are just one of the tools that SAVIE recommends, evaluates and develops as a training medium. In this respect, the Educational Games Central (EGC) is an information-sharing area for anyone who is interested in the use of games in an educational setting. It was designed primarily to link teaching staff (primary, secondary, college and university), education professionals, community development workers and vocational trainers who wanted to obtain, create or exchange ideas about educational games adapted to their particular needs. The Central offers a game shell concept which trainers can modify as they wish without, however, needing the skills of a programmer or being an internet expert. More information[/callout]
Why this game?
Research into games has been a key component of Louise Sauvé’s academic career, but she warns: “Caution – games are not always a miracle cure. They need to be targeted.”
In a four year investigation involving forty Canadian researchers* she gathered thousands of articles on the benefits of using games in education, examining the effectiveness of games and simulation on learning in emotional, cognitive and psychomotor fields. Many studies** have also demonstrated that integrating educational content into games leads to changes in attitude towards people suffering from chronic illnesses.
How did “1,2,3 Asthma” originate?
SAVIE was working on a continuous training project for doctors in the area of problems related to asthma. It was these doctors who asked for a game to be developed in this field. Asthma is one of the most common chronic illnesses in Canada, affecting over 10 percent of the population. “Young people are ill-informed of the problems related to asthma”, says Dr Sauvé.
The human and socio-economic cost of asthma is enormous. Through “1,2,3 Asthma” and its offshoots, SAVIE is seeking to improve understanding for sufferers and those who live with them.
At what stage of development is the game?
The game is still in its evaluation stage. Teachers and students are currently testing. They can play in class or at home. Whilst respecting the anonymity of players, “1,2,3 Asthma” has a dynamic environment. It allows answers and results to be reviewed so that the effectiveness of the game, its shortcomings and its areas of improvement can be analysed. These results are accessible to the teacher who can validate the learning mechanisms or modify the game dynamically.
Why take part in eLearning Africa?
The aim is to demonstrate “1,2,3 Asthma” and to launch debate about this type of game. SAVIE has already worked in Africa with Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal, but we welcome other collaborative exchanges.
[callout title=SAVIE]The Society for Lifelong Learning (SAVIE) is a non-profit organisation established in 1994 and based in Quebec. Its mission is to foster training as a development tool at all stages of life. It aims not only to encourage all people to follow training but also to prevent some students from failing. The idea is that anyone browsing the internet should be able to access free and effective programmes in order to learn. Made up of professionals in Quebec who are designers, users, trainers and researchers, SAVIE favours the idea of sharing its achievements, its research and its information within various French, English and Spanish-speaking fields. www.savie.qc.ca[/callout]
Dr Sauvé says, “Everything we have developed until now was achieved by teamwork. On our own, we would never have obtained these results. The examples of games demonstrated, such as “1,2,3 Asthma”, should encourage the creativity of teachers who are present. They are also able to access games shells offered through the Educational Games Central and develop their own games. The models and shells are offered at no cost and any games developed by teachers are shared with all peers.”
*Simulation and Gaming Environments (SAGE) for Learning
**(e.g.Tingstrom, Sterling-Turner et al., 2006; Bottino, Ferlino, Ott and Tavella, 2007).