Active Ageing, is it all in the mind?Posted: July 25, 2012
The European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 is well underway and we thought it timely to take a look behind the scenes at a partnership that is taking place right now that is looking at ways to facilitate the learning of older people.
Its all in the game
Manchester Metropolitan University is the co-ordinator of the 2011 Grundtvig Partnership funded Gambaloa project and are collaborating with Katholieke Universiteit, the largest University in Belgium and Wissenschaftliche Hochschule Lahr which is part of the AKAD network of higher education institutions in Germany.
Project Lead Nicola Witton explained to me that the partnership was borne out of an urge to debunk the myths surrounding learning through games, looking at factors surrounding motivation and the adaptation of traditional game based learning methodologies for older learners.
Play to learn
The project itself has got off to a great start. At the mobility (where a person travels abroad to visit a partner institution) in Belgium the partners and learners tested their acumen with a GPS treasure hunt, which took them over 10km in one day, which some may call Active Ageing! More than those ideas and gadgets such as Brain Training and Professor Latham’s puzzles that are seemingly everywhere, this project looks at the motivation behind games based learning, specifically concerning adult learners. Studies have traditionally focussed on children, and the partners have been concentrating their efforts on how to gain vocational and behaviourist models, including learning theory and transferring this to adult learning.
Early findings from the project have already proved to be of interest as the project has co-authored a research paper entitled “Not just for children: game-based learning for older adults” accepted for submission at the 6th European Conference on Game Based Learning, which brings together professionals to share new findings in this growing area of research.
Focus on motivation
In addition to this, the project has gained an off shoot in the practical arena. Learners will be taking place in a design participatory exercise using Apple iPads in order to look at ways of making Game Based Learning attractive to adults, including adding competition elements and even fantasy characters, as Nicola repeatedly proclaimed the real focus in all of this is motivation, which stems from our brain.
Active Ageing will be achieved through the stimulation of our minds, as Nicola says “motivation and games is fascinating as we know so little about it, through the project we hope to learn more about what motivates adults to engage with games and to learn through them throughout their lives”. Great wisdom comes with age and thanks to this new research, hopefully so will great knowledge.
I am Natasha Hall, an Assistant Project Manager in the Grundtvig Small Co-operation partnerships team, I have a background in marketing and learning and skills promotion gained in the public and private sector. My passions are education, books and the colour Green.