Education provides a huge array of opportunities to engage students through game-based learning. Here at Monterrey Institute of Technology a group of us (academic librarians and education specialists) developed a digital learning experience aimed at helping students develop greater information literacy, which in turn would help with critical thinking, collaboration and understanding of cyberculture. This would be achieved by having students solve puzzle-like challenges related to techniques for identifying and evaluating reliable information, all in a virtual environment. We hoped that providing a memorable experience would engage students and result in their almost inadvertently discovering/appreciating the value of the library and its resources.
The activity, named “BeLIEvers: Is everything real?”, took place within our university’s educational metaverse, known as the “virtual campus” and hosted on the platform Virbela. Over one week, 15 synchronous sessions were carried out with teams of 10 students (plus a member of staff acting as a “game master”). There were three sessions every day with each one lasting 60 minutes. In total, 150 students registered for the activity.
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The experience was based on an imagined world where fake and viral news online comes true, and information literacy is key to beating misinformation and stopping its negative effects. Participants work together to “save the world”.
To inspire students to learn while having fun, we used essential library tools as the basis for three digital challenges. To get a crucial password for passing the first challenge, students had to master the different types of information source (primary, secondary and tertiary) to determine relevance and validity. In the second challenge, they had to identify fake news using evaluation criteria and decipher a colour-coded pattern. Finally, they found themselves in a library, where they had to use search strategies to locate trustworthy sources on the library’s web portal to find three lost books that helped them escape.
Informed by our experience above, we’d like to share the following advice that may be helpful for those thinking about taking the leap into the metaverse for educational purposes, whether you’re using a third-party platform or building your own virtual environment from scratch.