Friday, July 2, 2010

Think think think

So, things are progressing on the phd front. Currently immersed in the methodology chapter and extensive discussion has revealed numerous aspects heretofore unexplored or considered.

That is clear is the need to ensure each component of the thesis is catered for. This means that the methodology chapter must outline the methods to be utilized in not only the data collection stage, but also the analysis stage as the following illustrates. An outcome of the research will likely be a series of recommendations about game development education courses in the form of a proposal. It is important to note is that in order for that proposal to be adequately validated, an evaluation of some sort is required. This evaluation requires criteria.

Two things arise from this aspect. One, the extent of the proposal must be determined. Is it merely a set of theoretical recommendations? Is it that plus implementation on some level, or is it a full blown implementation of the proposal (i.e. creating a space, filing it with students and operating it according to the guidelines specified in the proposal)? The last option is unlikely to occur given the time and budgetary constraints. The second is most likely; a purely theoretical proposal with no practical proof of concept will lack credibility. Once this issue has been settled, one must consider the second issue; determining the criteria used to evaluate it. Assuming a level of observation is conducted and supplemented with student feedback by survey or similar, that data needs stringent analysis using criteria that is independent of the research, i.e. the same criteria could be used to evaluate a different kind of course. Some criteria will clearly be GDE specific but will be derived from data acquired from educators and industry whose recommendations and opinions on how to deliver GDE will form a platform from which the implementation of the 'ideal GDE environment' can be observed and critiqued.

That aside, I need to determine research methods other than the case study in order to compare and contrast them. Given this research seems closest to the social sciences, it makes sense to select common approaches from that field of research and cover them enough to justify use of the case study as the primary method. Another issue arises; the case study may be sufficient to encompass the data gathering and analysis stages, but the proposal (and indeed the proposal to create an intermediary body that liaises with industry and education) and evaluation will need a second method. This must be covered in the methods chapter; how to derive from the data not only a proposal for an ideal games curriculum (or at least a series of recommendations) but also some of the criteria with which to evaluate it.

A pressing issue is the creation of a paper on collaborative spaces. The angle should be that given the value of collaboration in game development, is there an ideal method of creating an environment conducive to collaborative and beneficial interaction between GDE students? I'll explore research on creative or group/collaborative spaces and perhaps tie it in to observations that might be made in a classroom environment when group activity is occurring. I'll explore the theory behind collaborative spaces, existing applications, and look at the actual physical implementation of a collaborative game development space. It remains to be seen whether an opportunity will arise to actually test any hypotheses that are formulated.

Anyway, meeting next week to discuss the ins and outs of creating and managing a course and what some of the basic criteria are for evaluating a course's effectiveness. I need to get a handle on some of the basic educational standards that should apply to any course based presumably on extensive research and repeated evaluation. How do you know if the course is successful? How do you measure it? What metrics do you use? Student numbers, assessment styles, results, graduate numbers, employed graduates post-qualification? Hmm hmm hmm.

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