May 2007 Site of the Month

http://library.uncg.edu/game

Authors: Scott Rice and Amy Harris
Institution: University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Interview with: Scott Rice
Interviewer:
Anne Driscoll

Description: The University Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro created a computer board game resembling Trivial Pursuit, which allows from one to four students to play against each other by answering questions about information literacy topics in four different categories. Evaluative exercises, which ask the player to find a specific piece of information on the site, such as author, credentials, date, etc., are also included. Two website evaluations ask the player to compare the two websites and answer questions. The game will be introduced to freshman students in first-year studies classes.

Q. What was the motivation for creating the Information Literacy Game?

A. We were searching for a way to make information literacy instruction more engaging to undergraduates when the idea of gaming presented itself.

Q. How long did the development process take?

A. The development process took about six months from start to finish. We began working on the project in June 2006 and began testing the game in January 2007.

Q. What technology did you use to create the game? Why did you choose it? Did you consider other technology?

A. We used AJAX, a combination of Javascript and XML. We chose it for a number of reasons. It was within our technical capability. It was easier to make ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. It was easier for others to reuse it.

Q. How is the Information Literacy Game currently used? Is it required of a certain class, students, etc?

A. The Information Literacy game is still in the testing phase, with a campus-wide rollout scheduled for Fall 2007. The content of the game is geared toward first-year students, so it will be marketed to instructors of introductory courses such as English 101, Communication Studies 101 (a speaking-intensive course), University Studies 101 (a one-hour acculturation course) and Freshman Seminars. It will be marketed as a follow-up to face-to-face library instruction so that students can reinforce what they learned in class.

Q. How do faculty and students learn about the game?

A. First-year course instructors will learn about the game in an annual orientation session taking place in the fall. Faculty will learn about the game through library instruction sessions, as well as through traditional marketing avenues such as flyers, advertising on the library’s homepage, an announcement on Blackboard, etc.

Q. How much feedback have you received from faculty and students about the game?

A. We have received some feedback from the students who tested the game and most of it was positive. We have had little feedback from faculty, but expect to hear more when the game is rolled out officially in the fall.

Q. What were some of the challenges that you faced developing the game and keeping the game working correctly?

A. While developing the game, some of the challenges involved simply getting it to work, deciding on the appropriate content for the questions, and making it somewhat challenging without overwhelming students. It is not easy to come up with over 190 questions!

The biggest challenge right now is making it as easy as possible for other librarians (and faculty) to adopt the game for their own purposes.

Q. What are your future plans for the Information Literacy Game?

A. There are a number of small technical refinements that we would like to do. In the short run, we are working on making a version of the game that is not specific to UNCG’s Library, so that interested librarians will be able to just get the files, put them on their server, and be almost ready to go.

Q. Do you collect site usage statistics? If so, what do you do with the data?

A. We have a voluntary survey that is available for players to take after the game has been completed. Right now, we are using the data to gauge interest in the use of gaming in information literacy and to figure out weaknesses and strengths of the game.

Q. Did you conduct usability testing for the game? If yes, who was tested?

A. We did some usability testing using student library workers, as well as various librarians.

Q. What other methods have been used to assess the Information Literacy Game?

A. At this point, little assessment has been done. In the future, however, we would like to collect statistics on how students answer specific questions, both to assess the quality of the questions and to discover areas where more attention should be focused in library instruction sessions.

Q. How did you determine the questions to include in the game? How many questions are in the question bank?

A. There are about 193 questions spread over six categories. The six categories include the four types of questions that need to be answered correctly to win the game and the two types of web evaluation exercises. The question categories include “Choose Your Resource,” “Searching/Using Databases,” “Cite Your Sources/Avoid Plagiarism,” and “Library Wild Card.”

Q. Could you tell us about the web evaluation exercises embedded in the game?

A. A player that lands on one of the light bulb squares on the board is asked a web evaluation question. They are of two types. The first asks the player to examine one website and answer a question concerning information that can be found on that website, such as contact information, author or company information, etc. The second type asks the player to compare two websites and make a judgment between them to answer a question, such as: Which of these websites is more current? Which is more trustworthy? A correct answer to the evaluation exercise will get the player a free light that they did not have previously. An incorrect answer will lose them one of their lights.

Q. The multiplayer game format is highly unusual in library learning materials. Could you elaborate on the student / group interactivity while game playing?

A. The multiplayer format is there to engage students a little bit more through competition, as well as make it possible for the game to be used as a group activity in instruction sessions. There is also a single player format for individual students.

Q. How can other libraries adapt your game to their own institutions? What technologies or system requirements would be necessary?

A. Information and files for adapting the game are available at the following URL: http://library.uncg.edu/game/mygame.asp. We also provide information and links on our blog: http://librarygames.blogspot.com. Other libraries are encouraged to take the game and make it their own, modifying it any way they like. The game uses just a few technologies, which are Javascript, XML, and CSS. System requirements should also be very low as the files are not large and a lot of computing power is not required.