Paper on Emergent Narratives in Project Based Software Development Education

13th International Conference on Game Based Learning ECGBL 2020 Proceedings

In September 2020, I attended the 13th International Conference on Game Based Learning ECGBL 2020 hosted by the University of Brighton, UK. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held in a remote format. I presented a research paper called “Emergent Narratives in Project Based Software Development Education” via ZOOM.

Abstract: The nine months formative education program focussing on software development for the Apple technology ecosystem offered at University of Naples Federico II (Italy) utilises the Challenge Based Learning (CBL) methodology. As a collaborative and self-guided, inquiry-based learning method, it focuses on intrinsic motivation of learners, working on real world problems organised in projects (Challenges in CBL) with an experiential and progressive approach to apply acquired knowledge in real world scenarios, ideate solution concepts and build innovative digital products. The authors applied storytelling principles and narrative theory to design the program’s educational experience for the academic year 2019/2020 as a cohesive journey within a communal learning environment with a coherent and connected structure of learning Challenges. Recently, scholars have developed digital interactive systems (e.g. Games, Interactive Storytelling) to design unscripted narratives, affectively driven by its characters, within educational contexts using emergent narrative concepts. Building on these systems, the authors present concepts to develop their approach further towards an emergent narrative experience design to manage the educational journey as it develops, rather than scripting it. This paper introduces a Narrative Experience Design Canvas to model educational experience design that encourages unscripted, emergent narratives for experiential education with the aim of fostering learners engagement, agency and creativity. Derived in part by models mainly developed for digital interactive storytelling or educational video games, it categorises the components for designing an in-person, embodied educational experience that allows the learning progression to be driven by learners as co-authors and describes mechanisms that allow unscripted narratives to emerge based on intrinsic motivation. For the future, the authors indicate action points to develop this model into an Emergent Narrative System for designing narratively driven and experiential software development education.

cite as: Recke, M.P. & Perna, S., 2020. Emergent Narratives in Project Based Software Development Education. In Proceedings of 13th International Conference on Games Based Learning ECGBL 2020. Brighton, UK, pp. 445–451. DOI: 10.34190/GBL.20.161.

The paper is connected to work done at the University of Naples Federico II’s Apple Developer Academy, where my co-author Stefano Perna and myself are faculty members. In various other publications we showed how the application of narrative theory and the concept of emergent narratives can be be leveraged in context of learning experience design in active learning environments.

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