Recently, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University’s Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) team was awarded the Global Impact Grant 2022-23 by Advance HE for their latest research and innovative practices in digital education.
These grants were presented to only 15 projects worldwide. This achievement showcases the interdisciplinary team’s capabilities and the progress they have made in exploring gamification.
Advance HE, formerly known as the Higher Education Academy, is a non-profit organisation based in the UK. Dedicated to supporting teaching and learning in higher education, Advance HE has developed the UK Professional Standards Framework, which is a set of standards for university teaching.
This project is led by researchers from XJTLU’s Academy of Future Education, including Dr Na Li, Dr Qian Wang, Dr Tingting Tay, Dr Jinjin Lu and others. The team consists of more than 20 educators from different fields both in and outside XJTLU.
Digital escape rooms
The DGBL team has developed an innovative approach to learning by integrating educational content into digital escape rooms – virtual games where players solve puzzles and clues through series of challenges to escape within a time limit.
This practice combines the excitement of gaming with educational objectives, and it not only enables students to acquire knowledge but also fosters their problem-solving skills.
The following videos, created by Xiaohan Chen and other MSc Digital Education students, explain the basics of how to play the games.
Digital escape rooms made by MSc Digital Education students
Distinctive contributions to the field
Dr Na Li, the project leader, says there are several attributes that sets this research apart from previous studies.
“First, we employ technologies such as H5P and Moodle, which distinguishes us from those who rely on Microsoft OneNote or Google Docs. Second, our research extends to both HyFlex and fully online learning, whereas previous studies primarily focused only on fully online settings.
“Additionally, our digital escape rooms span multiple disciplines, including education, computer science, architecture, and linguistics, in contrast to other studies that concentrate on a single discipline.”
Dr Jinjin Lu says the research context also differentiates them from similar research.
“Most other studies were conducted in Western countries, but our case study takes place in China, thus providing a distinct cultural and contextual perspective.
“This combination of technological, pedagogical, disciplinary, and contextual differences sets us apart from other studies,” she says.
Dr Tingting Tay adds: “This educational innovation was first applied in XJTLU’s PGCert Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education (Internal) programme for teachers’ professional development, and it received a lot of positive feedback.
“In the past two years, our digital escape rooms have been applied in a number of programmes at XJTLU. The teaching practices and research have demonstrated its effectiveness, and we found that it can improve students’ participation in both synchronous and asynchronous online learning.”
The team’s digital escape room has been published as an examplar in the 2023 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report Teaching and Learning Edition, a report widely recognised in higher education.
The DGBL team has published their previous outcomes. They will also present their recent research at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2023 in September.
This project is one of the Special Interest Groups (SIG) funded by XJTLU’s Academy of Future Education. SIG aims to encourage team-based projects in strategic research areas, allowing academics to initiate projects based on their own research interests.
“Our project aligns with the Academy’s strategic focus on tech-driven educational innovation and contributes to the University’s international influence,” says Dr Qian Wang, Director of Research at the Academy of Future Education.
By Xiaoyan Jin
Translated by Xiangyin Han
Edited by Xinmin Han
Videos by MSc Digital Education students