Evaluating Exploratory Learning in LAVA

K. Getchell, J. Nicoll, C. Kerbey, A. Miller, C. Allison, R. Sweetman, and R. Michaelson (UK)


Explorative learning, e-learning, collaboration, gaming, archaeology.


This paper reports on some initial experiences developing and evaluating a games-based approach to explorative learning. The approach adopted has particular relevance to subjects such as archaeology and geography that have scope for a significant fieldwork element, but which in practice are limited by the problems and costs associated with arranging real experience for potentially large numbers of students. A virtual simulation environment, LAVA, has been developed based on real world archaeological excavation data, with the aim of supporting exploratory learning and encouraging the development of an understanding of fieldwork techniques amongst undergraduate students within a classroom environment. LAVA seeks to make the processes involved in arranging and participating in an excavation engaging by use of a computer games approach, whereby a user, or group of users, is faced with a series of challenges with which they engage until such time as they have shown a certain level of competence within the virtual environment, at which point they can progress forward to the next level. We describe LAVA in outline, its initial deployment with a cohort of archaeology students, and the subsequent evaluation of the students’ initial experiences with the system.

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