When it comes to place-based games, no application has proved more effective than ARIS (Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling). The ways in which the creator can customize their games is only limited by their imagination. ARIS is used across the world for a number of different reasons, but most creations involve learning to some extent. In terms of language learning, several games already take advantage of the dynamic storytelling that ARIS offers, which include titles such as ‘Analy Nyuwiich, Explorez, and Ecopod.
Another game has been released on ARIS called Finders Keepers, a game which involves the player making important decisions that will have a direct impact on the way the narrative progresses. The creator Becky Lawrence – a language teacher currently at the University of Oregon – recently gave us the chance to ask her some questions about her game and how she used ARIS for language teaching.
Q: Could you give us a brief overview of Finders Keepers?
Finders Keepers is an interactive story playable on any iOs device with the ARIS app installed. The player is immediately introduced with a choice of what to do with a briefcase they find outside their door. Each decision they make throughout the story spawns different paths to take and ultimately different outcomes. There are several themes throughout Finders Keepers that may spark classroom discussions about relevant issues including ethics and morals, wealth distribution, crime, social justice, and social relationships.
Q: What ways can you use the game in a language teaching environment?
Because Finders Keepers is an interactive story in which the player must make decisions that will impact their future in the game, they must think beyond the current choice; in this way, higher order thinking skills are being activated. In addition, Finders Keepers includes a downloadable booklet with activities that have been designed for students at all three ACTFL levels. Possible ways to use Finders Keepers in a language classroom include incorporating it into an existing unit involving similar themes, or presenting the interactive story as a basis for their own creative writing assignments.
Q: How many different languages could the game be used to teach?
Finders Keepers is in English and was originally designed for use in an ESL classroom, however it may also be used as an introduction to themes and topics in other languages as well.
Q: What inspired you to create Finders Keepers?
I originally designed Finders Keepers as part of a larger terminal project for the Language Teaching Specialization MA program at the University of Oregon. My ultimate goal is to have students make their own games like Finders Keepers in a creative writing course. Research shows that creative writing does not have a strong place in language teaching curriculum despite the numerous benefits it provides for language learners. Using Finders Keepers to spark interest and engagement in creative writing allows for the opportunity for students to express themselves in ways they cannot in academic writing, while developing skills that are used in academic writing as well.
If you would like to sample some of the classroom activities that Becky used with her game, she has graciously given us permission to share some of her materials. Feel free to download her packet of six activities found here and use them for your own class!