Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

ProsocialLearn Report Summary

Project ID: 644204
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ProsocialLearn (ProsocialLearn - Gamification of Prosocial Learning for Increased Youth Inclusion and Academic Achievement)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Social exclusion is a key concept in Europe social policy, and both the Europe 2020 strategy and the Digital Agenda for Europe aim to ensure greater social cohesion and employment. Support for disengaged and disadvantaged learners, enhancing their employability and integration into society is a key. This includes helping people with learning disabilities, and young people to be more employable. Children in danger of social exclusion, showing little to no signs of empathy and high levels of aggressive or anti-social behaviours should benefit from digital games tailored to teach prosocial skills that can help them achieve academically, appreciate team work and recognize the value of understanding other people’s needs. However, current digital games targeting the education sector are low quality and fail to capture the imagination of players, significantly reducing their effectiveness. Contrast this to games in the entertainment industry where innovative technologies and delivery models are revolutionising society and culture. It’s clear that traditional game designers know how to produce engaging stories and game content but they are lacking scientifically proven game mechanics that can be used to create serious games for non-leisure contexts in way that delivers beneficial outcomes for players.
The ProsocialLearn project (http://prosociallearn.eu/) is investigating how to create and deliver digital games for children (7-10 years old) within educational systems that support learning of prosocial skills. The approach combines prosocial pedagogies with advanced ICT technologies and cloud delivery models to create attractive and exciting learning opportunities for children based on digital games.
On the other hand, ProsocialLearn aims at establishing a new market for digital games targeting at increasing social inclusion and academic performance. A ground-breaking digital gaming genre will be created that focuses on helping children to acquire prosocial skills necessary for positive relationships, team working, trustworthiness and emotional intelligence. ProsocialLearn will deliver a series of disruptive innovations building on a game development and distribution platform for the production of prosocial games that engages children and stimulates technology transfer from traditional game industry to the education sector. ProsocialLearn will offer games developers scientifically proven prosocial game elements for development digital games.
In-depth the main objectives of the ProsocialLearn project are therefore:
I. The creation of a new ecosystem for student learning and skill acquisition based on Prosocial Gaming that channels creativity, innovation and technologies from the traditional gaming industry to the education sector. The traditional game industry is thriving with ideas and technical solutions that can directly compliment and benefit serious games, however, the financial risk to small game companies must be significantly reduced to incentivise new game productions by offering domain specific expertise, marketing and distribution channels for digital games. The perception that games are for entertainment must be overcome to increase acceptance of their use by teaching professionals in school curricula.
II. The provisioning of a dedicated prosocial game development and distribution platform to distribute prosocial digital games from SME game companies to the education sector. The ProsocialLearn platform aims at supporting developers providing scientifically proven prosocial game elements that can be used to develop games targeting children for Prosocial Learning through an application programming interface (API) that allows them to integrate functions (visual sensing, identification of prosocial signals from in-game actions, personalised adaptation of game elements, player profiles, game mechanics and expressive virtual characters) into digital games, whilst supporting mechanisms for data collection with protection of personal information. A prosocial gamification methodology for learning and skills acquisition using serious games will be offered based on a rigorous multidisciplinary approach that involves serious design and implementation grounded in scientific evidence in order to consistently deliver efficient content able to serve the required pedagogic goals.
III. ProsocialLearn will deliver a framework where, student outcomes will be linked to prosocial learning objectives to communicate expectations to students and to provide the basis for evaluating teacher, student, and game effectiveness. Prosocial skills will be measured efficiently and cost effectively using a series of information cues. Multi-modal signals related to game play behaviour (prosocial, aggressive and socially isolated behaviours), signals hidden in game mechanics (e.g. emotion, trust, engagement, empathy) will be linked to prosociality. Vision-based facial and motion analysis (e.g. emotion, arousal), and other profile data must be fused and evaluated in a context-dependent manner to provide quantitative indicators related to engagement which may be related to the game genre, interaction controls, etc. Driven by these signals, games will be personalized in order to achieve higher levels of player interest and, thus, maximize chances of achieving a learning objective. Using a pedagogically sound prosocial model that stores student data over time, teachers will be able to efficiently monitor progress and assess mid-long term learning outcomes across multiple games and game sessions.
IV. Individual perception, personality traits, abilities, attitudes, previous experiences and cultural/social beliefs significantly influence the effectiveness of learning. Such characteristics will guide the selection of teaching/learning objectives to achieve the best outcomes. Prosocial games will support personalisation and delivery of learning content by dynamically adapting and optimising game play situations and interactions for each individual player considering both persistent characteristics, and real-time emotional and cognitive state.
V. ProsocialLearn aims at providing scientific evidences that the gamification of prosocial skills can increase youth inclusion and education achievement to confirm the effectiveness of the approach. Current studies showing the relationship between violent and continuous game-play habits and anti-social behaviours (e.g. aggression/desensitisation) must be extended towards prosociality. A series of pedagogical studies (small studies, large studies and longitudinal studies) with real students in schools across Europe will be conducted. Consideration of cost of experimental studies and a strategy adopted that starts with small qualitative experiments and then moves to larger scale pan-European experiments with large student populations to statistically test hypothesis.

Main project results
The ProsocialLearn Main project results will be the establishment of a new ecosystem for student learning and skill acquisition based on prosocial gaming that channels creativity, innovation and technologies from the traditional games industry to the educational sector. The financial risk to small game companies must be significantly reduced to create an incentive for new prosocial game productions, by offering domain-specific expertise, marketing and distribution channels for these games, and the perception of games must also be changed to increase acceptance of their use by teaching professionals in school curricula. Production and distribution of prosocial games A dedicated prosocial game development and distribution platform must be provided to distribute prosocial digital games from SME game companies to the educational sector.
ProsocialLearn’s innovative application programming interface (API) will allow developers to integrate a range of functions into prosocial digital games, while supporting mechanisms for data collection with protection of personal information. A prosocial gamification methodology for learning and skills acquisition using serious games must also be provided in order to consistently deliver effective content that serves the required pedagogic goals.

Validation of the ProsocialLearn platform
Student outcomes must be linked to prosocial learning objectives to communicate expectations and to provide the basis for evaluating teacher, student and game effectiveness. Prosocial skills must be measured efficiently and cost-effectively using a series of informational cues related to gameplay behaviour and signals hidden in game mechanics will be linked to prosociality. Using a pedagogically sound prosocial model that stores student data over time, teachers will be able to efficiently monitor progress and assess mid- to long-term learning outcomes across multiple games and game sessions. Games will also be aligned to curricula, helping teaching professionals to understand how to incorporate games into teaching programmes.
A series of short, large and longitudinal studies will be conducted in real schools throughout Europe using games produced by the five Gaming Providers SMEs that are part of the consortium. Short studies will focus on validating available game technologies ability to convey prosocial character and their impact on children’s academic skills linked to prosociality. Longitudinal studies will evaluate mid and long term social and academic effectiveness of prosocial gaming as input to feedback to policy makers. All experiments are supervised by an ethical oversight procedure and ethics advisory board, active over the whole duration of the project.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The period covered by this management report lasts from the project start on January 1st of 2015 to 30th of June 2016, which spans from M01-M18 according to the project plan. During this reporting period, the activities performed can be structured along the following lines of work:
• Launching the project and setting up the different procedures (quality, reporting, risk management, document/output storage and management, deliverable quality review, etc.), management structure, guidelines and collaborative tools to enable a seamless and fruitful teamwork among the consortium partners, in order to achieve the project objectives and develop the work promised in the DoA according to the schedule. Definition of criteria and the procedures to be followed for inviting the three new game SMEs to join the ProsocialLearn consortium during the third project year. These new partners will develop prosocial games for using and integrating the ProsocialLearn results and methodology into their technologies.
• Implementing a game market analysis activity, drafting the first exploitation strategy and business modelling. It has been analyzed a number of relevant markets in order to draw insights for the development of the ProsocialLearn platform. The consortium has analysed the market structure and competition and considered the potential positioning of the ProsocialLearn platform. The public deliverable D1.1 – Market and Competition Analysis – released in M5 (May 2015) http://prosociallearn.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/D1.1-Market%20And%20Competition%20Analysis-Final%20version.pdf gives a close overview of this activity. On the other hand, the consortium has provided a preliminary overview related to the commercial exploitation strategy to put in the market the results of ProsocialLearn project. This builds on the work carried on in the Market and Competitor Analysis. This activity has took into account both exploitation initiatives that (a) may be carried out by individual partners to commercialise stand-alone products (which are based on Foreground owned by the partner’s themselves), and (b) a joint exploitation strategy that needs to be undertaken by the consortium as a whole (respectively by some subset of the consortium partners).
• Analysis of the User requirements activity for prosocial learning, in particular the requirements for the gamification of prosocial learning. The ProsocialLearn consortium defined a conceptual framework that is derived from multidisciplinary perspectives (pedagogy, psychology, teaching practitioners, and game designers) of prosociality as the basis for understanding the technical and operational requirements for creating games to teach prosocial skills in schools. The conceptual framework provides the theoretical foundation for technical work developing a platform for prosocial gaming and innovation in the delivery of such games to schools. The outcomes of this activity are the deliverable D2.1 – User Requirements http://prosociallearn.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/D2.1-User%20requirements-Final%20version.pdf.
• Outlined of the first and final architectural model for the ProsocialLearn platform. The activity defined the final version of system requirements and architecture for a platform to produce and deliver digital games to teach prosociality to children in educational settings. It provided a formal description of a system and a detailed plan of the system at component level to guide its implementation. The structure of components, their inter-relationships, and the principles and guidelines governing their design and evolution over time are described.
• Development of classification, fusion and modelling components supporting the ProsocialLearn learning analytics pipeline. The learning analytics pipeline transforms student monitoring and observations into actionable insights for teachers. The view is that the player modelling informs everything. This is how the platform sees the players (students). Interactions with the platform to update/create the model happens via a skills based approach. At runtime skill is acquired through game interaction monitoring whilst temporal emotional state is observed through multi-modal sensors analysing voice, facial expression, body language and engagement.
• Design and development of an initial version of the Prosocial Adaptation Manager (PAM). The purpose of this module is to provide personalization capabilities to prosocial games in order to enhance the effectiveness of learning prosocial abilities. In the contest of this work, we also provided natural game interaction solutions, we have used LEAP Motion 3D controller and Microsoft Kinect (I & II) sensors. These Natural User Interface (NUI) applications require action and gesture recognition based on the input provided from these controllers.
• We designed and implemented the integration strategy aligned with the major milestones of the project lifecycle and dependencies ensure gradual, seamless and continuous integration. The objective of this activity has been to avoid the typical ‘big bang’ integration problem and to ensure that mismatches are discovered and fixed as early as possible. To this goal the consortium has implemented: a) an Internal Git repository as a revision control system and general issue and bug tracking; b) a Jenkins system as a continuous integration system, automatic build; c) a series of Ansible scripts for automatically deploy/configure the components compose the ProsocialLearn platform.
• The activity “Prosocial Games Development” just started on M13 and no deliverables have been planned to be delivered in this project period. However, WP6 contributed to the redaction of a Strategic Management Report aimed at describing the criteria and procedures for inviting the new game SMEs to join the ProsocialLearn consortium.
• The consortium established and implemented a rigorous procedure of ethical oversight that takes into consideration all the parameters of a data intensive project such as ProsocialLearn has been the focus of T 7.1 for the first months of the project. The approach has been refined further as the ethical oversight was exercised with respect to system requirements and experimental studies design. Appropriate DPA and Official Permissions were sought for studies conducted, in accordance with national regulations in each country, and proper ethical procedures were followed (including informed consent by legal guardians).
• Using the aforementioned procedure, nine small scale studies have been conducted (three early testing studies and six 1st phase small-scale studies), from June 2015 through June 2016, in three project countries (Greece, Italy and Spain)
• In regard to the dissemination activity from the beginning of the project, through various events, the consortium disseminated information online to about 6000 organizations and had direct contact with approximately 2500 persons. The information on the Network’s website reached 50000 persons, the internal newsletter has 60.000 addressees and the English version arrives at 2000 organisations as universities, NGOs, schools, associations, etc.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The project provides outcomes for a wide range of customer segments, from students and children to teachers and parents, to developers, schools and educational organisations and ministries.
ProsocialLearn is described as a gaming platform for the design and development of games requiring high degrees of prosocial skills for the player to succeed.
It is a multi-disciplinary approach paying particular attention to personalizing the game scripts, so that each individual is benefited by the console to the maximum possible extent. In particular, scenarios and rewarding mechanisms have been carefully designed, while connections between realistic game mechanics and levels of engagement have been also considered.
ProsocialLearn offers a new market for digital games aimed at increasing social inclusion and academic performance, as well as a distribution channel to deliver these games to children and teachers in European schools
On the other hand, ProsocialLearn provides a teacher’s space aimed to facilitate the process to integrate the game into the pedagogical process through the elaboration of learning units. ProsocialLearn offers a community of practice space to teachers and professionals of education to engage and support teachers in the use of ProsocialLearn resources.

Related information

Record Number: 193664 / Last updated on: 2017-01-24
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