Developing a Mobile Learning Game on the Android
Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand
This paper describes the current phase of a long term project to create a reusable, configurable mobile learning game. The game uses a location aware augmented reality scenario in which players, in teams of two, role play business consultants to a technology company that is facing problems. Early versions of the game were developed on the Java Micro Edition platform, but this is becoming increasingly obsolete as a mobile phone programming environment. A decision was therefore taken to continue development of the game on the Android platform. In this paper we describe the issues that we faced in making this transition. Our results so far indicate that there are some problems caused by the wide range of mobile devices that run various versions of the Android operating system. Not all Android devices are able to successfully run the game, and some features (such as location awareness) work more effectively on some devices than others. We hope that sharing our experiences will assist others who wish to either use our mobile game or develop their own.
Mobile learning game, location awareness, augmented reality, Android, Java INTRODUCTION
The increasing sophistication of mobile phones means that many students now have access to smart phones with touch screens, location awareness, video, internet access, large amounts of memory and powerful processors. This makes it possible for us to design mobile learning experiences, using students’ own devices, which were simply not realistic in the past. Many previous mobile learning projects that involved the creation of location aware augmented reality games relied on the provision of expensive and unusual devices by the learning provider, making such exercises limited in their scalability and reusability. Now, we can deploy complex mobile learning tools to everyday devices. Of course this ubiquity of smart phones does not, unfortunately, remove issues around choosing software deployment environments. There are several possible smartphone platforms and there is no obvious platform of choice for every circumstance. However Android has a number of potential benefits in the context of developing a mobile learning application that is intended to be easily accessible. Deployment to the Android store is easier and cheaper than deployment to the Apple or Windows stores and Android devices come in a range of models at different prices, many of which are more affordable than devices running other operating systems. In addition, Android uses many standard Java interfaces, making it the platform of choice for migrating existing Java applications. We have previously developed a mobile learning game using Java Micro Edition on Nokia S60 devices, but this platform is increasingly obsolete. We have therefore migrated the game to run on Android devices.
There is an increasing amount of work in Android mobile learning projects. Sandberg, Maris & de Geus (2011) used devices running an early version of Android to implement a mobile learning game to teach English in the context of visiting a zoo. Although the application was relatively simple, the use of a touch screen was important to the application, as it included activities such as a jigsaw puzzle that relied on this feature. An Android application using GPS, web services, photographs and messaging, is Gymkhanas, a multimedia mobile learning game (Robles, Gonzales-Barahona & Fernandez-Gonzales, 2011). This has some similarities with our own game in that it involves the exploration of a physical environment, though it is not targeted to a specific teaching context. For this application, ease of deployment to the Android store appears to be an important motivation. Brown et al...
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