Streekmuseum Flipje Tiel – educational programme Reizen in de Tijd (Time Travel)

Period: 2014-2015
Project leader: Ben Bregman & Alexandra van Steen
Design: NoMoreMondays & ab-c media
Educational department: Elsebeth Hoeven

Introduction

Reizen in de Tijd (Time Travel) is an educational programme where regional cultural heritage is offered to children who are currently in elementary school. An analogue version of the programme already exists, yet the project leaders thought it was time for an updated and modern version. The programme now also entails several cultural games, which is especially interesting for the research group. Our main focus in this project is then to see how the children respond to these games.

In our research, we firstly monitored the design process of the cultural games. Although computer games were developed for groups 1 to 8 (except for group 3), we decided to only focus on the computer games developed for groups 4 – 7. The reason to do so: based on earlier studies and our own observations, we found that children younger than 7 were not able to reflect on the games in a way that fitted our goals.

Design process

The ultimate goal of the educational programme is to stimulate the curiosity of children by encouraging them to ask questions about their surroundings and cultural heritage. Together with No More Mondays, the project team created computer games, were children learn about the various objects used in different periodes and how they can understand the relationship between objects. Narrative instruments, such as leading characters and storylines, were specifically used to make the game more fun, easier to understand and encourage children to finish the game.

The full article will be published in Cultuur+Educatie and can be downloaded here after its publication.

Field research

During the research several methods were used to gather our data. A qualitative study (phase 1) was performed to learn about the objects and assumptions of the project group with regard to using the computer games in class. After this, a quantitative study (phase 2) was executed to dive into the experiences of children.

Results

The study mainly showed that children were very eager to play the game, but that just playing did not lead to the reflective state the project team prefers. Reasons for this outcome are that the computer game does not ask children to really think about their performance and how the things they learned relate to their daily environment. Teachers were also afraid of this outcome, but already found a solution: they would like to organize a meeting with the children where they can reflect upon the game altogether.

Children mentioned that they prefer playing the educational computer game rather than reading an educational book, listen to the teacher, visit a museum or perform an individual activity. Older children prefer the game a bit more than younger ones, who need more guidance.

Lastly, we noticed that the children had difficulties while playing the game. Some game elements were not totally clear, which made it hard to complete the game. Also, a third of the children mentioned to find it stressful 1) that they could see the timing ticking away, 2) that a lot of noises seemed to point out that they were doing it wrong and 3) not knowing whether or not they were doing the right thing.