Computer corner

Reviewed by 
Bill Gillespie and Rosemary McDowall

It is not often that we recommend a game in the style of a first person shooter for the education market. However, when the game wins bronze at the IMS Global Learning Impact Awards in San Diego we take note. The awards recognise the most powerful and influential uses of technology worldwide to support learning.

The White Card Game offers an engaging and entertaining way to deliver training in CPCCOHS1001A — Work safely in the construction industry. The game has players identifying, controlling and reporting workplace hazards on a construction site without getting injured or causing the death of workmates.

The game is the result of a collaboration between Victoria University and Oztron Media funded by the National VET E-Learning Strategy. The game project is part of the National Broadband Network E-Learning Programs, which focus on the delivery of training programs using broadband-based information technology to improve training access and outcomes for learners.

Game creator Mark O’Rourke of Victoria University’s Serious Games Group said, “The game’s production has embedded within it the accumulated knowledge of years of serious games trial and error at Victoria University including a number of products, at least three technologies and program areas, a large number of people and plenty of frustration along the way.”

By creating a virtual experience of being on a building site, the game offers real life challenges, problems and risks yet provides a safe place in which to learn and explore.

This topic was chosen because competency in occupational health and safety is fundamental to the successful sustainability of the construction workforce. However,allowing trainees to gain real world experience onsite presents industry and training institutes with resource and logistic difficulties, while exposing personnel to potential risk.

Mr O’Rourke said the idea of the game was that lessons are as valid, whether learned in a virtual or real world environment. “As long as students are actively engaged in the game they absorb the information as they would in real life,” he said. “Of course the advantage of the game environment is they can learn by trial and error without anyone actually losing a hand or their life.”

Mr O’Rourke said, for this qualification, the active learning style suits many students. “Games are a medium that young learners are likely to be highly literate in and responsive to, even when disengaged with other social or learning structures,” he said.

Trials have demonstrated how the game brings potentially boring lessons to life. “During research trials of the game there were animated peer to peer interactions among students and lively discussion with the teacher,” Mr O’Rourke said. “This was in stark contrast to comments by one teacher who reported that it was not unusual to get students wandering out of the class and not returning during break when work safety was delivered in a more traditional PowerPoint presentation style.”

The White Card Game is free to download at www.whitecardgame.com.au under Creative Commons licence and an introductory video is available on YouTube.

Rosemary McDowall teaches at North Sydney Boys High School and Bill Gillespie teaches at Elanora Heights Public School. 
They can be contacted at computer_corner2000@yahoo.com