OER17 – Board Game Jam: playful engagement and using OER to create OER

Having run many Board Game Jams over the past year, it was great to be able to bring a version of this to share with delegates at the OER17 conference in London.

The OER Board Game Jam was an idea pulled together between myself and my Library colleague Gavin Willshaw. Each year the University of Edinburgh runs a Festival of Creative Learning where staff and students are encouraged and supported to try new methods of engaging with teaching and knowledge. In 2016 Gavin was looking to raise the profile of the fantastic digitised collection materials in the University of Edinburgh Library and Museums collections, and I was looking for an engaging way to demonstrate and encourage the creation and sharing of Open Educational Resources in line with the University’s Open Educational Resources Policy. Putting our heads together we came up with the Board Game Jam, a hands-on workshop where students and staff are guided through all the steps to create their very own board game. The sessions have been enthusiastically received by students and staff, and and won the ‘Most Creative’ event award for that year’s festival.

The OER Board Game Jam has been adapted and run as a one day, half day, and one hour (!) workshop. It covers prototyping, play-testing, and adding variety and fun by employing different game mechanics. The games are created using digitised images from the University of Edinburgh Library, and during the session they learn about copyright and licensing, how to identify licensed material that is free for re-use, and how to licence their own work.

The Board Game Jam has been a great way to engage a different audience than we would normally see attending an OER workshop, and has helped raise the profile and use of OER at the University. In the last year I’ve run Jams for:

Click here for games created in Board Game Jams

For the 2017 Festival of Creative Learning we ran a slightly different session in which we asked our students to take one of the games created and openly licensed in a previous Jam and to build and expand on it as an OER. They had a lot of fun, were really engaged in the copyright, licensing, and teaching aspects of the session, AND created an absolutely brilliant game. You can read more about this and find the game details on Open.Ed: FoCL Board Game Jam: The Expansion.

For the OER17 workshop I ran the 1hour version of the game creation workshop. I’m always impressed at the complexity and creativity of the games created by participants within this short time frame, and was so again with our OER game creators.

Appropriately for the conference theme, The Politics of Open, each of the games created in this session had a political aspect.

Animal Crackers

Picture of postcards with collections images, and a hand drawn board design for a game. Text reads: Building #OER boardgames at #oer17 with @AnnLudbrook and @Sfarley_Charlie #boardgamejamInspired by the excellent animal images in our collection, this group chose to create a game based around three animals seeking environmental autonomy and freedom. Designed to be collaborative with three teams of up to four players, each team playing an animal character. The Pig character focuses on food production, the Penguin investigates climate change, and Donkey explores transportation.

The game requires a board that has all characters starting in the middle. Rolling a dice allows the teams to move their character around the board where they will land on tiles that provide an action for that team. Actions include picking up cards which provide challenges, if the team complete the challenge they win the card. There are four different type of cards, Environment, Transportation, Food, and Power. The teams need to obtain three of their character’s type plus a Power card in order to win the game. Teams can hold up to a maximum of 6 cards in their hand at any one time, and can negotiate with other teams to bargain and swap their cards.


Journey in STEM and time

Four images of board game jam design documents. Text reads: 2 new political #OER board games created at #OER17 before lunch! #BoardGameJamInspired by the science and calotype images in our collection, this group chose to create a game that explored obstacles to minorities in STEM and how this has changed over time. They started out to create a game focused on the obstacles to women, but then widened their scope to include a variety of minorities who have had to overcome discrimination and resource challenges in the STEM fields.

The game can be played by a minimum of two and maximum of five players, and is aimed at ages 13+. It is played on a board with players characters beginning in the middle and then needing to build roads through the earning and placement of tiles on the board. The tiles are a mixture of helpful and barriers or blocks, and are picked randomly out of a bag by each player on their turn. The player can choose to place their tile, whether good or bad, anywhere on the board. The characters need to reach designated areas on the board in order to collect all the required objects on their character’s card list. Once the players have collected all the objects on their list they need need to return to the centre of the board in order to win the game.

Both of these games were created within the short timeframe of just one hour, and I think they are fantastic!


Click here for OER17 Board Game Jam slides

Click here for info on running your own OER Board Game Jam

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