Mobility in Metropolitan and Peripheral Regions – an Educational Simulation Game

Hartwig, Lukas and Pfaffenbichler, Paul and Stark, Juliane (2021) Mobility in Metropolitan and Peripheral Regions – an Educational Simulation Game. CITIES 20.50 – Creating Habitats for the 3rd Millennium: Smart – Sustainable – Climate Neutral. Proceedings of REAL CORP 2021, 26th International Conference on Urban Development, Regional Planning and Information Society. pp. 517-523. ISSN 2521-3938

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Metropolitan regions worldwide face the same problems: air pollution, congestion, urban sprawl. Decades of interventions by policy makers and planners did not change this fact. The methods of System Dynamics reveal that one of the main causes is a lack of understanding of the complex interactions between urban, peri-urban and peripheral regions. Therefore, it is essential to improve systems thinking skills of policy makers, planners and the public. Educational games promote the development of cognitive, spatial and motor skills and can be used to teach facts (e.g. knowledge, retrieval, memorization, retention of knowledge), principles (e.g. cause-and-effect relationships) and complex problem solving. Hence, educational games and simulations are powerful tools to improve systems thinking skills – even for very young age groups. The objective of the nationally funded project Systemcheck (2019-2020) was to make use of the abovementioned capabilities. An interactive, digital teaching and learning game based on simulations of social and ecological effects of mobility and transport in metropolitan and peripheral regions was developed and tested in classrooms. The game specifically addresses topics of the Austrian 6th grade syllabus for the subject geography and economics. The game, on the one hand, enables students to learn and practise geography subject matters and on the other hand to develop systemic thinking skills. The basic framework of the multi-level game is the vita of a person from primary school through to adulthood. Players have to solve different tasks related to mobility and the characteristics of urban and peripheral regions to collect points and reach the next level. The game is a mixture of quizzes, identification of the player with a role and simulations. Based on teachers’ suggestions, the game was subdivided into two parts to allow the game to be played in portions of one or two teaching units. In accordance with the Citizen Science approach two phases of in-class workshops with feedback from students and teachers were conducted. The first part starts with the player in the role of a schoolchild living in a small village. The village has a primary school and a small shop. A supermarket and a cinema are located in the district town, about ten kilometres away. The player has to answer (quiz) questions regarding topics like periphery, basic needs, accessibility, urban sprawl, etc. to reach the next level. In following levels, the player commutes to secondary school, moves to the capital to study, starts working and moves back to the countryside when founding a family. At this level, the player engages in local politics to stop the greenfield development of a shopping centre. In the final level of part one the player runs for mayor’s office. Feedback on a prototype was obtained from teachers and students of three secondary schools. A total of 91 pupils in four classes tested the prototype in classrooms. The overall feedback was very positive. On a scale from 1 = very bad to 5 = very good the average overall rating was 4.2. The majority saw the game as not too difficult, exciting and useful for learning. About two thirds wanted to play the game again. In the second part the political career of the player continues. Decisions on municipal level have to be made. Cooperation and compromises with neighbouring municipalities, the federal state and the national government are necessary to achieve environmental and social goals. Simple simulation models are used to mimic real world effects of the player’s decisions. Simulation models were programmed using the free, web-based software InsightMaker. The player has to use the simulation models to solve tasks like meeting CO2 reduction goals while keeping the municipal budget balanced. A beta version of the second part was tested in March 2020. Due to the pandemic testing in classrooms was replaced by web-based feedback. Collected feedback shows evidence that the simulation model based part was rather difficult for the target group and not user friendly enough. This can be partly explained by the missing possibility of physical presence and briefing in classrooms. In consequence, teaching material for future classroom application was developed. Nevertheless, the overall rating was still positive and the concept was successful. The game is publicly available for free, in both English and German language:

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The project Systemcheck was funded in the 2nd call of the programme “Förderprogramm Erstellung von digitalen Lehr- und Lernmitteln mit Citizen Science-Methoden“ by “Die Innovationsstiftung für Bildung”. The programme was managed by OeAD-GmbH. We would like to thank the teachers Nikola Kappelmüller, Susanne Ottenfels (Lise Meitner Realgymnasium), Manuel Hummel (Brigittenauer Gymnasium), Elisabeth Weixlbaumer (NMS Gunskirchen) and our student assistant Karina Anderl for their support in the project Systemcheck. We would furthermore like to thank our students Lea Giora Helfer, Julia Hofer, Michael Straninger and Sonja Witz from the Interdisciplinary Project of the bachelor program "Environment and Bio-Resources Management“ for their invaluable contribution to this work. Thanks also to Philipp Weixlbaumer for programming the game.
Uncontrolled Keywords: metropolitan and peripheral regions, system dynamics, educational simulation game, children, mobility
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Depositing User: REAL CORP Administrator
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2021 07:15
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2021 17:28

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