Look Mum! No Courses! Reimagining a Games Development Education

Brief Abstract

What would you do if given the chance to completely restructure your games program? New ways of how upcoming generations learn, game industry changes, governmental restructuring and demands of university management coincide to create a perfect storm. Drawing from teaching experience and success of project and problem based learning components of our traditional program led to further research into how we could improve while moving to a student-centered learning approach. Feedback from student roundtables, surveys from industry and university management, and the influence of learning models such as student centered learning and learning objects, helped form a new model called role based learning. We present the journey of moving from a traditional course based teaching approach to a new novel role based education where project success is separated from student success, and the individual growth, learning and self-reflection is the focus even though they work within groups. The results show a significant increase in student contact hours, one to one contact time with staff and an overall study success increase of 11%. In addition, results from an investigation comparing the two systems, from both a student and staff perspective, identify integral supporting processes for the new challenges faced. Structure of the session: The session will share motivating circumstances behind the educational changes and results from the collected data. From inspiration of existing educational models, and our experience with each of them, we will go on to detail the core of the new educational model and how it contrasts with our old educational approach. We then present the experience of our transition to a role based learning. This includes a tour of the supporting education platform created and the lessons learned. Then we will show the latest results contrasting the old and new educational systems, for both staff and students. The session will conclude presenting the new challenges faced, resolution plan, and an open discussion. Takeaways: The model of role based learning, the integral processes to deliver it and how this led to a positive energized feedback culture which replaced a secretive competitive one amongst students. The steps to changing to a role based educational approach from a traditional educational approach. A check-list of challenges to watch out for, effective supporting processes and associated resolution planning. A case-study example of how you can employ existing software to assist in making it even more successful.


Robert J. Grigg is a Senior Lecturer at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands where he manages the programming pathway within the International Games Architecture and Design program. Having taught in tertiary games studies in the United Kingdom and Australia, he has always played an active role in improving the learning environment drawing from his game industry experience. Having founded and successfully run a games company he also is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Chartered IT Professional of the British Computing Society and is in the completion phase of his PhD in cloud gaming at Griffith University.

Extended Abstract