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Serious Games Building Information Literacy

Via: BiblioBouts Project and University of Michigan School of Information

BiblioBouts will be one of the featured projects at the Serious Games Expo from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19 in 265 Chrysler Center on the U-M North Campus. Other projects will explore how Serious Games are used in medicine, business, education, and industry.

According to Professor Karen Markey, who devised the computer game to build college students’ information-literacy skills "we opted for a game in lieu of other approaches because what people are doing when they are playing good games is good learning."

With SI Associate Professors Victor Rosenberg and Robert Frost, Assistant Professor Soo Young Rieh, and English Department Lecturer Fritz Swanson — and several master’s and doctoral students — Markey had earlier developed Defense of Hidgeon, another Serious Game aimed at improving information-finding skills among undergraduate students. Colleagues from other University of Michigan academic units also lent expertise to the online board game. The Delmas Foundation provided financial support.
The purpose of the BiblioBouts Project is to design, develop, and deploy a web-based game that undergraduate students play at the same time they use online tools for resource discovery and management. The project also aims at evaluating the game's effectiveness for teaching students information literacy skills and concepts and improving their classroom performance.

Researchers at the School of Information (SI) of the University of Michigan (U-M) have partnered with the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University to conduct  BiblioBouts - a 3-year project (October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2011), funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Studies

The game will be a pervasive and unobtrusive presence beside the online tools and collections students use to do their assignments. The game would be efficient and fun, and it could scale from one classroom to hundreds.

BiblioBouts game play is phased combining offline instructor-guided discussion and online game play. Phase names describe successive steps of the research process. To play the game, students do research as a set of tasks that are discrete from other learning tasks and are even discrete from each other.

The project team wants students to be able to distinguish the different tasks in research and to come to appreciate how they fit together. As much as possible, they want the students to get a sense of research as an independent activity, and maybe appreciate research as an aesthetic experience on its own.

Game Play 

Broad Topic Selection (offline)

The game begins with instructor and students choosing one broad-based topic for all students to research. The instructor sets quotas for the Donor, Tagging & Rating, and Sorter bouts, caps for the Closer and Best Bibliography bouts, and publishes the timetable for the beginning and ending of individual bouts at the BiblioBouts home page.

1. Donor Bout

Game players search the web and in library databases for online readings that address the selected broad-based topic and use Zotero to build a collection with breadth and depth on the broad-based topic.

SCORING: For each item that the player donates up to the quota, s/he gets a base score. The player gets bonus points for every donation over the quota. The player gets extra bonus points for being the first player to donate a particular item.

2. Closer Bout

Game players choose their best 6 citations on the topic in play, complete with full-texts, and submit them to BiblioBouts.

SCORING: For each item that the the player closes, s/he gets a base score. The player gets bonus points throughout the game when other players rate his or her donations highly and when other players add his or her donations to their Best Bibliography.

3. Tagging & Rating Bout

Game players evaluate the potential of donated resources to address the broad-based idea or topic. BiblioBouts randomly chooses a resource donated by competing players, displays it to the player, and asks the player to identify this resource’s audience and the discipline it addresses, rate its relevance and credibility, and assign keywords that describe its contents.

SCORING: For each item that the player rates and tags up to the quota, s/he gets a base score. The player gets bonus points for every rating and tagging over the quota. The player gets extra bonus points if s/he adds an explanation of his or her ratings and if other players match his or her rating and tagging choices.

Topic Dissection (offline)

The instructor leads students in a class discussion asking them to reflect on donated resources: do these resources address the broad-based topic generally or do they address aspects and subdivisions of the topic? The instructor asks students to identify these aspects and subdivisions, and programs BiblioBouts to create folders named for them. Librarians should facilitate the discussion because of their prior experience helping students in this way.

4. Sorter Bout

Game players sort donated resources into folders bearing names of the broad-based topic generally and aspects and subdivisions of the topic.

SCORING: For each item that the player sorts up to the quota, s/he gets a base score. The player gets bonus points for every sorting over the quota. The player gets extra bonus points if other players match his or her sorting choices.

Assignment Focus (offline)

The instructor leads a class discussion to specify focused research questions that the collection of online resources can answer. Librarians should also be on hand to take part in the discussion and help students formulate the focused research questions.

5. Best Bibliography Bout

The game player selects a research question and choose the best 10 resources for his or her Best Bibliography. Presumably, the player will use these resources for a class assignment or project.

SCORING: For each item that the player adds to his or her bibliography, s/he gets a base score. The player gets bonus points for how well each item’s ratings (relevance and credibility) and taggings (discipline and audience) match his or her selected research question. The player gets extra bonus points if other players choose the same item for that research question.

Awarded Grant Framework 

University of Michigan, School of Information – Ann Arbor, MI
Year: 2008
Amount: $649,941
Project Title: Building the Games Students Want to Play
Grant Category: Research

The University of Michigan' School of Information and the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University will design, develop, test, and evaluate a computer game, BiblioBouts, to teach incoming undergraduate students essential information literacy skills . Five institutions – Chicago State University, Troy University Montgomery, Saginaw Valley State University, the University of Baltimore, and the University of Dubuque – will field test and evaluate BiblioBouts.

Project evaluation will determine if gaming is effective for teaching incoming students information literacy skills, and whether or not students retain and apply these skills appropriately.

If this project demonstrates that students want to play BiblioBouts and effectively learn important literacy skills, then several stakeholders in the educational enterprise will benefit. The game, research results, best practices for game design and development, and game play strategies for effective information literacy education will be made publicly available.

This game will integrate Zotero, a dynamic scholarly communication citation tool developed by CHNM with initial funding from the IMLS.