Case: Havina

Client: Finnish Forest Association

What we did: game design, user interface, graphics, animation, game programming (Unity 3d), programming the webtool, Node.js & AngularJS -based implementation, testing and project management

Release: 27.1.2017

It’s good to reflect on the past – you might learn something useful for the future. Havina – aikamatka suomalaiseen biotalouteen is an educational game we did together with the Finnish Forest Association. In the game, the player must travel through a timeline to learn about bioindustry and to find answers from Finland’s past to modern problems.

We are living in constant change; the future poses more and more questions and challenges. It is estimated that in the year 2030, 30% more water, 50% more food and 45% more energy are needed – and those need to be secured for all somehow! Another ongoing change happens with the digitalisation of education. Electronic learning materials and solutions are on the rise and schools implement new technology in various ways. Modern learning materials are really needed now.

The Finnish Forest Association wanted to make their contribution for handling both of these changes. To commemorate Finland’s 100th anniversary, they wanted to create a modern digital learning material about Finland’s development, nature, forestry and bioindustry in the past, today and in the future. For years, Finnish Forest Association has offered diverse education about Finnish forests and the environment, but such a digital learning material on the topic had never been made before. The purpose was to create an example of what a digital learning material could be and what it could offer in teaching about bioindustry, as well as to try to make it so that teachers from various subjects could flexibly use the same learning material and for a long time. Based on these ideas, Havina – aikamatka suomalaiseen biotalouteen was born – and we got to create it together with Finnish Forest Association.

AIMS AND GOALS

The baseline of the Havina project was to create a modern learning material, which utilizes the possibilities the digital format offers, like gamification, for example. The goal was to make something that is modern and timeless at the same time. The learning material was to be multidisciplinary, easy to use and flexible. It was to be much more than just an “electronic textbook”. The learning material would primarily be made for schools but made so that everyone interested could use it.

The multidisciplinary nature of the learning material was made the highest priority of the project, so that it could be used across various subjects in schools, and that it could be used for phenomenon-centered teaching. Bioindustry as a topic is so multidisciplinary that a phenomenon-centered approach was a natural choice. Also, this approach is more prominently featured in the new curriculum for Finnish schools, so the learning material work for that end too.

The ease of use was also really important, so that the learning material would be immediate, practical and usable on various platforms and on sessions of varying lengths. Flexibility was necessary so that users could progress in their own ways and at their own pace. This would support the use of their own learning strategies. The informational content in the game would be as concrete and and graspable as possible by presenting it in a variety of ways; by using text, pictures and videos.

The educational aim of the game was to show via a timeline how Finland has developed, and what are the joints between the past, the present and the future. The main focus would be on bioindustry, forestry and their future applications. Clearly defined time periods of the timeline would visualize the concrete connection between the past and the present and the flow of time from prehistory to the future. Future would give choices for the player to make; to choose the kind of future the player thinks is the best. The game would be constructed so, that learning about the past times provides answers for correct choices in the future. To illustrate the change even better, the timeline would focus on Äänekoski, an ordinary Finnish town with history in forestry.

CO-OPERATION

Finnish Forest Association brainstormed the basis of the learning material and was in charge of compiling the educational content. We were helping them transform the numerous ideas into a unified whole. Our main task, however, was the implementation of the learning material. We were responsible for creating the graphics, programming, managing the project, as well as helping with the educational content. We also created the teachers’ webtool.

For creating the educational content, several workshop days were arranged. In these, a multidisciplinary and talented team of experts gathered to work on the content. The majority of the content was skillfully compiled by teacher Pirjo Piesala. This content was constructed to the timeline in eras, first in larger time periods and then honing them into smaller and more specific ones. The result was a very wide and varied whole that provides detailed information for all kinds of learners and has enough to teach for a plethora of classes.

OUTCOME

As a result of our co-operation, Havina – aikamatka suomalaiseen biotalouteen was created. It is a gamified digital learning material that is accessible on computers and tablets. It is primarily directed at 9th graders but it provides interesting insights for younger and older players too. The material supports phenomenon-centered learning, and it can be used in a variety of classes at school. Because of its scope, it can be used for a very long time too. Havina is completely free and accessible for all, so everyone can play it.

In Havina, the player traverses a timeline concerning Finland’s history, its use of forests, as well as the development of its bioindustry. Information is presented multimodally – via text, images and videos – and coupled with a visual style that is simple, pleasing and timeless. Going through the timeline, reading the educational content and doing exercises rewards the player with points. These points can be used to make “investments for the future”. Some of these investments are better than others – and reading about the past times can help choosing the right ones. The choices can be reversed by using points, so players can change their choices if they see their choice for future was not what they expected. Emphasizing cause-and-effect relationships is a central theme in the game.

A webtool for teachers functions alongside the learning material. With this webtool, teachers can follow their students’ progress in Havina and see what exercises they have done. It is very suitable for use with many different classes and groups, even by the same teacher.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Havina was released on the 27th of January, 2017. From here on out, the purpose is to continue updating and tweaking the game based on received feedback. In addition to this, a Swedish version, a glossary and more exercises for the future timeline are on the horizon.

When it comes NordicEdu, you were very professional, patient and admirably flexible. When one starts creating something completely new, no clear predictions can be made. Your efforts, flexibility and patience helped with this. You also had nice insights, which were used for gamifying the material, of which we had no experience of. And we can be really proud of the delicious visuals and animations of the timeline.

– Sirpa Kärkkäinen, liaisons manager of the Finnish Forest Association yhteyspäällikkö