1.1. Objective of this paper: how to note down gaming processes?
The aim in the context of this paper is to optimize the design of learning processes (or more generally social processes) for individuals, groups of individuals and society as a whole.
The main concrete interest of this article is: how to note down social learning processes such as gaming? Such notation could eventually visualize helpful temporal, communicative and social structures in learning processes.
Hence, the issue at the core of this paper is the “notation of social processes for gaming and learning”.
The main question to be addressed and answered is: Which sequence of learning framework conditions delivers an optimal learning effect (understood here as change of behavior) independently of the initial stage of mastery of the learners?
1.2. Some definitions and key notions
In this text, learning is understood in multiple ways:
learning = real change in behavior
learning = creation of suitable and sustainable consensus
life = a continuous learning endeavor
living means learning; this creates reality.
social process (sp) = element of SP (see Ahamer & Schrei, 2006: 226)
societal procedure (SP) = compound of sp, can result in successful learning
design = creation of helpful structures, can also be social design (= design of sp)
mastery starts with “obeying rules”, and progresses to “creating rules” (Ahamer & Schrei, 2006: 235).
In this article, we see “design” in a generalized way as an array of temporal, spatial and interindividual structures inciting to enact procedures.
1.3. Twofold relevance of “design of gaming and learning”
Hence, it is a valuable task to ponder optimal structural design for such learning, be it “simulation/gaming”, individual or societal learning.
Starting points are often attempts to “change the world” like interdisciplinary university courses, consulting in the public or municipal sphere61 - , planning of sustainability measures such as climate protection or other complex learning endeavors.
The relevance of such questioning is only seemingly of purely pedagogical nature and relating “only” to learning individuals (micro-learning). Yet,
if life as such is understood as a learning procedure (i.e. changing previous behaviors) and
if “learners” are also entire societies and
if tasks exist also on a global level,
such learning endeavor may even pertain to optimization of global society’s answer to challenges such as global change (cf IPCC, 2007) or global warming (macro-learning).
To a certain extent, basic structural findings might be true for both orders of magnitude, namely for (i) individual and (ii) societal learning.
We therefore include the following examples:
Learning of individuals (defined here as micro-learning): Learning in academia or at university (e.g. interdisciplinary courses, needed in curricula like Environmental Systems Science (“Umweltsystemwissenschaften“: USW, 2007), or Environmental Management (Mayer et al., 2004, 2005; JDR, 2006; Lourdel et al., 2006; Zermeg, 2007)
Learning of compounds of individuals (defined here as macro-learning): Distributed design (MacGregor, 2002), Computer Supported Co-operative Work CSCW (Heaton, 2002; Jarvenpaa & Leidner 1988; MacGregor, 2002; Wodehouse & Bradley, 2006; Johns & Shaw, 2006; Lloyd, 2004), societal learning: national climate protection targets (Crookall & Bradford, 2000; Kratena et al., 1998) that are not adequately met (WegCenter, 2007), low-energy building standards (HdZ, 2007; IP, 2006), sustainable urban renewal (van Bueren et al., 2006), municipal sustainability plans and energy concepts (KEK, 1997; LRP, 1995), approximation of Central European Countries to the EU (Ahamer, 2005), the “European Constitution” or a revolutionary new monetary system (Rauch & Strigl, 2006; Daly, 1999) and other examples of complex societal learning.
“Success” in learning is seen as effective change in real-life behavior, be it of (i) individuals or (ii) of societies. In section 4 it will be discussed, which four dimensions of human action should be affected by such change. Regarding the example of climate change, the stakeholders could be seen as facing severe difficulties in really changing (i.e. really learning) – as proven by ever increasing CO2 emissions in some countries (UBA, 2004).
1.4. Why a “notation for learning and gaming processes”?
Development of a “notation for structures in social gaming processes” could help
to optimize the usefulness and effectiveness of “social design” in learning frameworks when using graphical analogies (cf e.g. Hofmeyer et al., 2006: 432)
to visualize and hence conceptualize various levels of action and various modes of building of consciousness (cf Bilda et al., 2006)
to depict the design of learning frameworks in a transparent manner.
What can be the role of “game based learning” (Prensky, 2001; Ahamer, 2004) for these targets? A short answer: A notation helps to better visualize the structure of learning games and negotiation games along time and with respect to expressible opinions. In order to safeguard high effectiveness of gaming, the “consumer” of such a designed “game” should be exposed to a sufficiently large number of changing surrounding conditions while flowing in the drain and train of the game.
In cases of suboptimal learning (e.g. in school or with climate change) a strong motivation arises to find means to improve learning procedures and strategies. Such is attempted here.
2. What can be designed at all? - Where can “design” emerge?
“The notion of design is prominent in the field of simulation/gaming. It has been a thread running through most work in the field.” (Crookall, 2003: 485) This section allows the reader to regard the theme “design” from a distance when focusing on “what might be designed”. Design pertains to various substrates (Table 1) thus resulting in diverse branches of design.
In this section 2, the following will be laid out: What is much needed is design (= structure in time, space, and human individuals) which facilitates the generation of the learning target, which is often the construction of a consensus – like molding an alloy of differing individual opinions.
Here we understand “design” in a generalized way as structuring a range of substrates (such as the ones in the left column of Table 1) that could be effective to incite and enact procedures.
It might be a helpful objective to investigate whether a useful necessary design of structures in several fields resembles one another. Contemplating various disciplines (and their respective design structures) could aid in such overall endeavor. The following list and subsections outline first attempts.
In this sense, it could eventually be helpful to conclude
Some of the classically known substrates of design (upper half of Table 1) are briefly explained below.
Designing geometry: logos, see SGC logos in Fig. 3: convey condensed geometric information in a symbolic manner to denote mental structures; examples: (Schrei, 2006, 2007; Ahamer & Schrei, 2006: 239-242; Bouchard et al., 2006).
Designing physical structures: arrays of color dots in impressionism (e.g. van Gogh), entire history of plastic arts.
Designing mental structures, e.g. theoretical mathematical concepts of mechanics: (a) Aristotelian physics: force is proportional to speed in movement (F ~ v), (b) Newtonian physics: force is proportional to acceleration (F ~ a), (c) Modern quantum physics: a particle is a point in a space of possible states, concretely only determined after the act of measurement.
Designing functionalities: “engineering”, e.g. of machinery: see journals such as Engineering Design. Functioning artifacts as products of “art”, e.g. cars, engines, industrial products; examples: (Bianconi et al., 2006; Ono, 2006; Boujut & Tiger, 2002; Badke-Schaub, 2004).
Designing communication patterns: collaborating internationally and forming one product (CSCW, Wiki, e-learning: Herder et al., 2003; Ahamer, 2004), implemented from spatially and temporally distributed working places (Heaton, 2002).
Designing acting humans, i.e. theatre: interlinked threads of action and responsibilities: e.g. tragic situations, classic Greek drama.
Some of the newer substrates of design (lower half of Table 1) are discussed in the subsequent subchapters.
2.1. Designing social processes
What does it mean to design social processes (sp)? Here we define it to aggregate simple events (like learning content, peer review, debate etc.) as general elements of more complex long-term societal procedures. Such design was described earlier (Ahamer & Schrei, 2006: 226). Chapter 4.1 will give a practical example.
2.2. Designing individual interests
What does “design of interests” mean? Here it is understood as arranging individual stakeholders and the representation of partial interests in such a way that their intercommunication yields the best result possible, e.g. in a lawsuit or trial at court. It could be attempted to measure such results from the standpoint of the “common good”.
Design of interests can often be motivated as follows: if “fact-oriented” justice cannot be guaranteed sufficiently, at least a “best attainable solution”, namely “procedural justice” should be developed as a proxy to the best but principally unknown target of scientifically sound judgment in complex matters.
Legislation for “civil procedure” is an example here.
2.3. Designing TA and EIA
Technology Assessment means to weigh the desirable and non-desirable effects of new technologies on humans and the environment (Decker & Ladikas, 2004; Bechmann et al., 2007; Decker, 2001; Grunwald, 1999;) by means of a structurally designed “value benefit analysis” or “utility analysis” (Zangemeister, 1970).
In many countries, the legal implementation of the “culture of TA” is the “Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA) for projects and the “Strategic Environmental Assessment” (SEA) for policies and measures (Aschemann, 2004; UBA, 2007).
2.4. Designing societal roles: “role design” and “institutional design”
What is a societal role? Roles are conceived here as seizable condensations of interests in the entire network and fluid of all theoretically possible interests, in other words the most relevant points in the “landscape of interests”.
“Design of roles” means to combine individual perspectives in a way that they form a potent and promising societal actor. For example, such analysis is exercised during coalition building for government or opposition in politics. One target is to reach a 360 panorama-like view of all possible perspectives; this facilitates consensus.
Designing societal roles and interests can lead to designing institutions. How is such “institutional design” performed? By establishing and founding concrete panels – such as for climate change, where IPCC (2007) was founded as scientific body and UNFCCC (2007) as administrative body – and clearly defining frequency and organization of their interaction and mutual responsibilities (e.g., UNFCCC each five years “commissions” an “Assessment Report” from IPCC which is then “acknowledged” by UNFCCC).
2.5. Designing rules for consensus building
What are rules? The borders restricting (potentially free) individual human action put forth in order to direct societal behavior in a desired way.
What is “rules design”? Making up one’s mind what to allow, restrict, enhance and discourage in terms of social action under guidance of a societal target (e.g. defining measures in economic policy).
It means to devise rules in a way that maximal blossoming of the positive potential of the actors is attained (e.g. students, pupils, and a country’s economy).
Principally, autopoietic development of rule design can also be hypothesized to occur as 4th generation of web based teaching (Ahamer & Rauch, 136), namely “to play with rules”.
Deep understanding of “design” (Casakin, 2004) would also incorporate steps to design social and institutional procedures such as: the EU programme “Twinning” (EU, 2005) enhancing “converging” of two formerly fundamentally different economic and political cultures to the “Copenhagen criteria” relevant for EU accession. Twinnings helped all Central European candidate countries in acceding towards the EU by sharing the common body of legislation denominated as “acquis communautaire”, and designed as a hierarchical system of dialogues (Ahamer, 2005; SI, 2007).
In this respect, the distinction made by Heaton (2002) between rule-based cultures (like the Danish in their experiences) and personality-based cultures (like the Japanese) is helpful and a contribution to intercultural cooperation (Hofstede, 1994; GS, 2007).
2.6. Designing self-optimization processes
What are self-optimization processes? We understand them here as positive feedback loops that enhance the effectiveness of an initial action (e.g. of a political measure).
Design of self-optimization processes means to make use of systemic (economic, political, social) circular feedback mechanisms in order to reach self-sustaining policies that remain effective in the long run (Vester, 1980; Bossel, 1994; Pilch et al., 1992). Examples for (at least intended) self-optimization processes in macro-learning are global trading schemes for CO2 emissions (ACCC, 2007).
An example for such design with respect to global change is: how to arrange tools and measures pertaining to reducing global CO2 emissions: CO2 trading, clean development mechanisms and other flexible instruments (IPCC, 2007).
2.7. Designing perspectives
What are perspectives? We understand them as outlooks onto reality that are partly pre-determined by the standpoint of the beholder.
How are perspectives (and their interplay) designed? Legislation sets out to manage and mediate between diverse views on everyday incidents (e.g. a traffic accident). Civil law, process law and administrative law and their contained procedural rules allot speaking right and time to parties in an individual judicial process or in a societal decision process. Such can be reproduced in a negotiation game (e.g., this is the sense of the gambling procedure in SGC level 3).
A practical example is the Austrian political system of “social partnership”.
2.8. Creating and designing role-play
What are roles? Based on the definition of perspectives above, roles are condensations in the patterns of perspectives, attached with the interest of persons.
Role-play (Corbeil, 2005; Prensky, 2001) can hence be designed in a way that gaming individuals develop a maximum of sovereignty and depth of action when striving for their interests. Many people slip in professional roles in the course of their lives and, in turn, are shaped by them.
Let us understand games as: The stage for such enacting of roles. Enacting means bringing to life. Giving it drama. Permitting ideas and perspectives to flow out of their containers and stream along the river bed of passing time. Logos (ancient Greek for “the word”, “the idea”) must be en-acted and incarnated. (equals also to: Ideas must be implemented in real life.) In extreme idealism (Moser & Moser, 2005) every individual’s life is the physical manifestation of their mental values and consciousness.
Children during “free play” can often be observed to invent new rules, when they have “used up” the attractiveness of well-known games. – Both “homo ludens” and “deus ludens” (playing man and playing god) were conceived by Huizinga (1994).
2.9. Designing distributed structures leading to evolutionary patterns
What are “evolutionary patterns”? Here we try to understand them as way and path, along which our (techno-socio-economic and political) evolution flows, determined by its inner structure. Prevailing global evolutionary patterns could be understood and conceived as exponential (classic growth theory: Temple, 1999), stepwise (Raskin et al., 2002) or saturating (Daly, 1999). The crucial idea of system dynamics is that the inner structure of an interacting system (i.e. the architecture of its internal interconnectedness) determines the system’s behavior along time (Ossimitz, 2000).
For example, when combining structural design and space design, the important idea is “to include with the layout of space also the layout of basic structure.” (Hofmeyer et al. 2006: 434). Each piece of architecture leads to the evolution of typical patterns of social behavior inside it, including a typical pattern of rules of behavior (e.g. kitchen rules in a hostel).
In a systems analytic approach, the generation of rules in a (social) system in itself is seen as a result of the system’s state (Ossimitz, 2000). Adding an evolutionary approach, consecutive phases of system growth are producing different sets of rules along consecutive phases (compare chapter 4.5 or Ahamer, 2003: 8).
Examples could be: developmental policy, namely how to promote a country’s autonomous growth and ability to help itself (GS, 2007).
To summarize chapter 2, a “designer” can be a structurizer regarding a large variety of substrates. Consequently, a designer’s outlook is predisposed to reach beyond the contingencies of the prevailing substrate and to touch down to the patterns and principles construing the structures.
3. Three theoretical principles for the “design of social processes”
The task of a suitable learning framework (be it micro or macro) is to design along time suitable social, gaming and other structures that are intended to change real human behavior. This chapter proposes three principles that may aid in this designing task:
3.1. The value of rhythmisation
Rhythmisation offers an ever changing structure to the eye, ear or spirit of the individual who consequently is more easily able to “glue into”, integrate or resonate with the offered structure. For example: a lecturer inserting short stories into a long explanation recaptures attention of students with more practically oriented learning profiles.
Rhythmisation as a theatrical means for structuring processes in time with changing speed of oscillation for the dramatic interaction of actors allows for various characters of spectators. The intrinsic time constant of each individual to act, react and allocate interest will be met with higher probability.
With a façade, rhythmisation allows the eye to better discern a largely perceived horizontal area, to pick up the pieces of the façade and to grasp the offered structure more conveniently, e.g. aided by baroque risalits or pilasters. The eye (symbolic for “pre-understanding”) retrieves more easily a subsequence which addresses the spirit of the onlooker because it comes into resonance with similar mental predispositions.
In didactics, rhythmisation (of the elements of actions, “sp”) is a necessary structure in order to provide recurring opportunities for learners and for other creative workers to “glue into reality” – according to the understanding „double interact“ (as Weick (1979), or Klabbers (2003 : 577) have put it.
3.2. The value of multi-perspectivism and its expression through roles
Multi-perspectivism means to be able to adopt and understand another standpoint. Multi-perspectivism is a crucial step towards the ability of reaching consensus and a means for locating, organizing and measuring perspectives while consciously abstracting from one’s own position. Multi-perspectivism may be incited and aided by spatial and temporal segregation of views (e.g. each team is sitting at separate tables) which causes repositioning of perspectives.
For this paper, roles are facilitators for adopting different perspectives.
One possible application are resulting IT tools (e.g. CSCW: Heaton, 2002, MacGregor, 2002) where cultural preconditions shape the type of social processes occurring among stakeholders (see chapter 2.2). Multi-perspectivism is a key structure that learning tools/offers should provide in order to be helpful in a pluralistic society.
What are perspectives and roles in general? When reverting the direction of reasoning in chapters 2.4 and 2.7, they can be understood as enforced particularizations of the entire view (the contemplation of the whole), which are caused by our earthly restrictions of space-time structure. In Moser & Moser’s opinion (2005 : 221), on the ethical, humane or ontological levels, such restrictions can only be surpassed by forgiveness between human individuals, who – despite their individuality – are seen as (singularized, i.e. colored) reflections and facets of (holistic) white sun light, just like in a prism.
In a similar understanding, game play is the intentional (i.e. for pedagogic reasons) demolition and fragmentation of a holistic world view into the facets of the single roles’ perspectives. Such destruction and subsequent reintegration of facets into a whole is trained in negotiation games (Dong, 2007). It could be said that negotiation games deliberately deconstruct the dimension of “opinions and world views” and artificially map it into the dimension of “time during game play” or other mapping or framing.
3.3. The value of underdeterminism in game-play
Underdeterminism means that a system offers more than one degree of freedom (in physics) for the motion of a particle or (in games or real life) for decisions of an individual. As said above, roles in game play are the playable reification of such (underdetermined, hence) different worldviews and world perspectives.
Thus, it is appropriate to “oscillate” or “dance” between these world perspectives (e.g. using roles) in order to arrive at a consistent 360 panoramic view. Such “trial and learning” based motion is allowed (only) in underdetermined systems (see Fig. 1). Therefore, if suitably arranged (by a system of loose but enabling rules), underdeterminism can enhance learning (hypothesized again for both micro and macro levels).
A symbolic physical example for the value and appropriateness of underdeterminism in real life can be the bicycle rider who oscillates around an “ideal path” of trajectory when continuously correcting their body’s lateral inclination through steering their handlebars.
Games can be structurally understood as a shimmering of situations, as an unstable balance with shallow local optima (mathematically speaking). Compare a football game: the direction of the game continuously changes, one instable state is followed by the other, and predictability is almost non-existent. As a result, the dynamic situation permanently balances on a knife's edge.
Continuous change of standpoints, viewpoints, perspectives, and strategic constellations occurs frequently. Football players break clear, change boundary conditions for others and open avenues for new tactic actions. By acting and running, players create the game plan for others. According to design literature, iterative oscillation occurs between the problem space and the solution space (Maher, 2000; Dorst & Cross, 2001 : 434).
3.4. Both design and gaming need underdeterminism
Underdeterminism is characteristic for design as such (Restrepo & Christiaans, 2004) and needed for game based learning. Therefore, learners are best provided only a loose corset.
In gaming, how loose should structures be? Societal procedures need space and liberty to grow properly and fruitfully. “Games” seem to be a promising environment to allow for such liberty in complex human action and can be called a “stage”: “Simulation games provide a safe, condensed and dynamic environment, based on reality, in which participants, either professionals or students, can experiment with decisions and negotiations” (Mayer and Veeneman, 2002).
The stroke of the painter or violinist (Fig. 1) is essential for art and characteristic to the artist. For a painter, it may mean to intentionally decrease optical resolution or preciseness in order to allow for another reality to enter, additionally to direct optical and imminent physical reality.
“Freedom of an artist” is the deliberate deviation from what is considered “real”. In didactics, this translates to more or less deliberate deviation from a standardized learning path. The innovative learner cannot always be kept on track on the ideal learning path (ideal only to a traditional designer). Such is another expression of underdeterminism.
Any notation in art is loose enough to allow space for interpretation of the performer.
Concluding chapter 3 and in the light of the above, facilitating (working) life (one of the aims of designers, see Heaton, 2002) – i.e. facilitating learning according to chapter 1.2 – can therefore be achieved by suitably structuring dynamic processes of enacting individuals’ opinions.
4. How to note down multidimensional rhythms
4.1. Dramatic Rhythm: a negotiation game
The sense of “noting down” a rhythm is to distil out of it the crucial structures. As a first concrete example of rhythmisation in social interaction, an attempt to note down the dramatic procedure of “SURFING GLOBAL CHANGE” (© Gilbert Ahamer) is shown in Fig. 2. This negotiation game is explained in (SGC, 2006) and is taken here as an example because its activities (Fig. 3, central column) contain all three of the above principles.
Solid symbols vs. dashed symbols = compulsory vs. optional activities
dotted lines = participants are informed about the phase
triangles with growing thickness = preparation phases
looped arrows up/down = feedback to facilitator/to participants for debriefing
diamond = quiz in Level 1
stars = declarations of points of view/reviews/updates in Level 2
matrix = convene on two themes & develop two discussion matrices for Level 3
flash = confrontational discussion in Level 3
sun = consensus oriented discussion in Level 4
document = integrative interpretation of global trends as 360 view in Level 5.
While using the numerous tools of web-supported learning, the online functionalities shown as logos in Fig. 3 are used for the rhythmized activities of the students.
4.2. Rhythm in space: a façade
After viewing the dramaturgy of “social processes”, the rhythmisation of the façade of the Couvent de la Tourette by Corbusier and Xenakis (see lower image in of Fig. 4) could be regarded as structurally similar (in the sense of Table 1) to the intended rhythmisation of the different communicative procedures in SGC (Figure 6). Both, in fact, resemble a musical score (Fig. 4 above left, compare with center and right).
Rhythms in several “storeys” vary independently from one another, shown by varying density of vertical window pane delineations (Fig. 4 above centre).
4.3. Rhythm in time: music scores and flow charts
The historical and a modern type of musical notation are shown in Fig. 5 (left and right). Most often, different human voices are represented by different layers or levels in the notation.
The composition of a project plan of SGC (Fig. 6) comprises several lecturers from various disciplines whose contributions are blended into each other. Its organisational structure resembles the above notations.
4.4. Structural similarities between music and gaming
When en-acting (e.g. a composition of music), the temporal structure follows a detailed poly-rhythmic sequence – just as in Xenakis’ façade (Fig. 4). If adding the comparison between singers’ voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and the stakeholders’ perspectives on the issues (e.g. using the roles industry, ecologists, administration, citizens), namely “polyphony”, it could be hypothesized that a suite of games such as SGC resembles a structured choir with changing roles of carrying and varying the musical motives and melodies.
As can easily be seen from baroque scores, music has progressed to polyphony already quite early in history. Such might serve as symbol for “orchestrated polyphony of views”.
Music is characterized by strict enforcement of coherence of the single voices. This hints to the importance of coherence (or at least good timing) of the different “social voices” in a societal learning procedure.
4.5. Structural similarities with evolution
Similar to the graphic impression of Fig. 1, the dynamics of global techno-socio-economic evolution show highly underdetermined behavior. Fig. 7 above shows the average development paths of the annual growth rate of energy consumption, plotted against a proxy for “economic stage of development”, namely per capita economic activity (GDP/cap), for all countries in the last 30 years (Ahamer, 2003) (1 red line = 1 country).
The more countries develop, the closer they seem to gather around a path that leads from slightly positive to slightly negative energy growth rates – the latter projection would actually help climate protection. Evolution “heads for different targets” during consecutive phases, such interpretation might be possible (see chapter 2.9). Initially, civilizations develop ever increasing hunger for energy, which saturates later on.
A different graphic impression confirms Fig. 7 below, which for each continent plots vertically “the level of mechanization in agriculture” versus horizontally “land needed per unit harvested”. Lines are moving leftward while mainly affected by annual weather changes that affect harvest. Again, the target of development depends on the phase.
Note: in the next chapter, the structural similarity between ‘music’ and ‘societal learning procedures’ does not mean “a voice equals a stakeholder” but pertains to structural characteristics of social procedures. This hint is given for better understanding of the following type of notation!
5. The notation of social processes
In this chapter, a new notation for social processes (elements sp) will be proposed which resembles musical scores. The notes in music represent elementary “social processes”, the melody an entire “societal procedure” like learning, designing or even protecting global climate.
The resulting “social scores” sketch the communicational structure along time in various communicative dimensions.
For this paper, a new and original type of notation is developed.
5.1. Which basic dimensions exist in social processes?
When designing societal procedures, the intensity of social characteristics may vary along time. Once the emphasis is placed on teamwork, sometimes on individual work, here on understanding, there on confrontation. Can we invent a set of very basic and fundamental “dimensions” prevailing in any societal (gaming or learning) procedure? This chapter tries to do so.
Remembering one’s own experience in singing, the reader might figure out that often soprano carries the melody and the reader may enjoy looking for other structural similarities. Table 2 attempts to introduce an order of fundamental social dimensions which in this paper will be symbolically called “voices”.
Inspired by the examples in chapter 4 an attempt is made to split up the different components of human behavior into distinct levels in a graphic representation.
These four different components of human action are discerned based on practical experience with SGC for several years. They are thought to be organically independent (mathematically speaking: linearly independent) characteristics and components of overall social and societal behavior, be it learning, working, teaching or even politics (Table 2).
In Fig. 8 this systematization is depicted, including arrows for a first orientation.
This sketch might resemble a wind rose as known from classical geographical maps. The meaning of the four voices (= four ends of the wind rose in Fig. 8) is allocated to basic properties of practical human life (dashed arrows) in a pairwise manner, in order to facilitate systematization.
Often, there “is only one soprano voice” in traditional pedagogy (or classical climate policy), if it restricts itself to “only conveying information”. Quite on the contrary, the conviction of the present text is that the four fundamental “dimensions” in Table 2 span up a four-dimensional vector space of action (as in vector calculus, Fig. 9), in which a rich multitude of “societal procedures” can occur. Such multitude might be very helpful – or even prove indispensable for success, if only adequately designed.
S =starting point in the world of facts: information, “content”, “truths”
A =starting point in the world of relationships: communication between individuals
T =deal with S = “handle the arrays of facts and information”
B =deal with A = “handle the arrays of communicating individuals”
In this possibly new and mathematically formalized understanding, each societal didactic incident equals one point in this four-dimensional space which is defined by values of (info; team; debate; integration), just like a vector in a “state space” in modern physics.
It is possible that the attention of music listeners fluctuates from one voice to another as the guiding motive might be repeated or reflected by other voices (as often in classical music). Similarly, the main attention of a game player could switch from one social functionality to another during educational game play.
Not a synchronization (as light waves in a laser beam) of learning opportunities for all students in the entire class is chosen for SGC (e.g. one lecture for all, then one exam for all), but rather a variety of situations with combined opportunities (e.g. team formation with underlying monitoring of academic skills within the team based on a preliminary literature research). However, such variety needs to be suitably structured, which is exactly the ultimate target of “social process design”: firstly for educational purposes, but secondly also on the societal level for appropriately reacting to climate change, global change and globalization.
Regarding didactic theories (that might span from cognitively oriented to libertarian), we need a “do the one and don’t let go of the other”! The same applies to climate change.
After having outlined general principles of “game design” in education, the next section goes into details of a rhythmized structure using SGC as an example, after starting with the simplest settings.
5.2. Notation for simple learning environments
The following scores deliver simple examples of social procedures intended for learning. Quantification of the four dimensions is based on practical experience.
Example 01: Classical teaching (left in Fig. 10) is often concentrated on conveying and imposing content “S” (of often rather classical nature) on students and shows no activity in the other dimensions (T, A, B). Consequently, team building among students is not observed, and no critical discussion of basic assumptions or subsequent valuation of contradicting scientific world views takes place. Similarly, classic administration of climate protection might restrict itself to discussions inside a small community of professional stakeholders with little emphasis on team building or even interplay with newly forming NGO’s. Climate policy purely administered “via decree” runs into the ever existing bottlenecks of harsh reduction in budgets and might ultimately remain unsuccessful as a result of such restrictions.
Example 02: Contemplative learning: Another monodimensional approach to learning based purely on “sensitively exploring the self” (right in Fig. 10) and constructing an image of the world from the source of one’s own imagination is “learning from one’s own contemplative experiences”. Such an approach lacks connecting personal impressions to academic mechanisms of iterative critique, as well as reconsidering particular views of one’s own small community. “Contemplative climate policy”, as a hypothetic example, would remain restricted to the arbitrary mists of wishful thinking on the basis of a “oneself knows best” attitude inside self-reassuring particulate stakeholder groups.
Other one-dimensional approaches could be hypothesized: only “A” as ‘team’ dimension as in workplaces with many specialized teams that are not mutually interacting (Wodehouse & Bradley, 2006); only “T” as ‘debate’ dimension that might suffer from too shallow academic level and from low centripetal cohesion of discussants. Generally, it can be understood that exaggerating one dimension at the expense of the others does not tend towards decisive success.
Example 03: Simple role-playing: Initial package of content followed by social learning with subsequent role-playing, e.g. in the style of systemic interventions (Hellinger, 2000), socio-drama (Weinberg, 2007), or short and simple simulation games (Fig. 11 left). The onefold switch from S to B generates some, but only moderate levels in A and T.
5.3. Notation for a simple structured learning environment
Several “Interdisciplinary Practicals” (IP) of the curriculum on “Environmental Systems Analysis” (USW, 2007) – a worldwide unique and systems oriented type of master studies at Graz University – have been organized by interdisciplinary teams of students and lecturers (IP, 2005) for groups of 21 students for complex themes (e.g. Global Change) along the following procedural shell while using support from web based learning platforms (listed incl. abbreviations used in Fig. 12):
Each lecturer conveys initial information in introductory blocks (“Info 1”)
Each student authors an individual seminar work (“Individ.”)
Each lecturer deepens information in consolidation blocks (“Info 2”)
Seven groups of three students (of the same scientific discipline) collaborate and create a common standpoint on their sector of the theme (“Intradisc.”)
Three groups of seven students (of different scientific disciplines) collaborate and create a common standpoint on the entire theme (“Interdisc.”).
As can be seen from the figures, it is the aim of the structural “design of social learning process” to reach (and maintain, if possible) during the entire duration sufficiently high levels in all four dimensions. According to the above graphs it seems possible to hypothesize that a change of state in one dimension creates a shift in another dimension. Consequently, well-deliberated changes in “framing situations” applied by the moderator (or dramatic designer, e.g. a lecturer) can lead to increased values of other dimensions (which – in a largely unknown way – are apparently complexly related to each other). This preliminary hypothesis will yield a conceptual model in chapter 5.6.
5.4. Notation for a complex suite of game based learning
Example 05: the complex negotiation game: “SURFING GLOBAL CHANGE” (SGC, 2006; Ahamer, 2004).
The design of social game dynamics is key to “SURFING GLOBAL CHANGE” as explained earlier (Ahamer, 2006). SGC falls into several categories of “International Relations” gaming (Crookall, 2003a: 221). It uses web based media for social innovation. The main interest of SGC is not so much a technologically highly sophisticated product but the design, interplay and timing of the involved social procedures (briefly explained in chapter 4.1 and Fig. 3).
Building on chapter 3.2, a crucial idea of SGC is that the change of roles is repeated (from actor to spectator and back), which trains wandering and oscillating perspectives and keeps the muscles of the eye trained to adapt to various perspectives (Kristjánsson, 2006: 52):
In level 1: from expressing to selecting coined short explanations
In level 2: from reviewer to being reviewed
In level 3: from one stakeholder to the other
In level 4: from discussing to being monitored
Level 5 sets out to integrate these perspectives in a composed “360 view” like a baroque world theatre.
Therefore, the macrostructure and microstructure scores of SGC appear as follows, based on experience with a dozen game implementations to date:
Example 05a: macrostructure of scores of “SURFING GLOBAL CHANGE”:
Example 05b: microstructure of scores of “SURFING GLOBAL CHANGE”:
SGC’s choreography in a certain sense represents a unit of a longer societal procedure: Level 5 (Bass) creates also new content for the subsequent year (= meaning of the music sign “fermate” at the end of the bass voice, meaning “hold this position”) which is the “final report” published on the public web outside the internal course web platform (several reports at IP, 2007) that serves as an additional input for the next year’s generation of IP students.
Table 3 explains the graphic elements (“notes”) for the four voices, dwelling on basic social and communicative characteristics of the respective dimensions.
When walking through examples 01 till 05, one could try to learn where the “optimum mixture” or “ideal equilibrium point” of a blend of different ingredients is, e.g. regarding social vs. academic learning. No! Replace this question for a “static equilibrium point” by asking for an optimal “rhythm of fluctuation” around such an idealized optimum, just as the bicycle driver oscillates around his intended path (chapter 3.3).
On a larger scale, one could even conceive a cyclic application of consecutive SGC-like processes, which makes the “hi’s” and “lo’s” of four voices appear in a repeated, even sinusoidal manner (see Fig. 15).
5.5. A first conceptual model of four dimensions in gaming and learning
As a next step of interpretation of the “four voices” pattern in a more stringent way than Table 2 and Fig. 8, Table 4 (above and below) puts them into two pairwise relationships in order to highlight that these four logically independent “social dimensions” are really suited to span up a complete vector space (as in vector calculus) for any human action.
Table 5 deepens this systematization by attributing structural names such as “the one / many of facts / communications”, respectively. Similar to classical tarot cards (Waite, 2003), each “voice” or “dimension” represents a fundamental principle of life (like C.G. Jung’s archetypes, or planets in the interpretation of astrology) which can “assume a value” (i.e. be in one sign of the zodiac); just as in modern quantum mechanics, where (predisposed) values in state spaces are assumed by the so-called quantum numbers.
When reiterating the entire above deliberation for the next (grand) cycle, i.e. the cycle of long-term societal procedures, the result “” will represent a new unit “” for the next iteration of structure building. Exactly here is the link from the “individual scale structurogenesis” (developed in this paper) to the “societal scale structurogenesis” (developed after decade-long experience with the author’s Global Change Data Base (GCDB, 2001).
Connection from social to global structurogenesis
This chapter 5 attempts to explore the question: how are structures created and generated? In a nutshell, SGC embarks on the following procedure of structurogenesis:
First on the level of facts: (i) individually (ii) structured
Second on the level of communication: (i) individually (ii) structured.
This evolutive pattern is exactly of the same nature as the GCDB trends suggest. Along global techno-socio-economic evolution and in an aggregated view of all economies of all single countries in the world, the following economic sectors are consecutively peaking (i.e. “carrying the melody and motive of evolution”) in their relative importance, starting from “agriculture” to “social services”:
First on the level of matter and material: (i) individually (ii) structured
Second on the level of infrastructure: (i) individually (ii) structured.
This temporal, but quite systemic order of growth phases could be hypothesized as the “STAB principle of global techno-socio-economic evolution”: In a structural sense, S resembles the sectors of agriculture and mining; T resembles commerce and manufacturing, A resembles construction and transport, B resembles civilizational infrastructure of electricity & gas and financial & social services (quantitative details in Ahamer, 2003: 10).
5.6. If you prefer mathematical language for models
The STAB temporal sequence S T A B as described above is – in a mathematical sense – produced by a system of differential equations
Where ~ equals “proportional” and ’ stands for “first derivative with respect to time”.
A practical argument for the suitability of such a formal structure is the consecutive order of peaks in Fig. 15 which is idealized and generalized from Fig. 14 (lowest 2 lines with “hi’s” and “lo’s”).
Mathematically, this structure of interrelations creates a four-dimensional standing wave in the four-dimensional state space of “learning”. Such structure is comparable with the two-dimensional standing electromagnetic wave following the mathematical structure E’ ~ H; H’ ~ -E, as in Maxwell’s classical electrodynamic equations (only involving a larger number oof apparent variables). These two (electric E and magnetic H) fields produce a “standing wave” – the basis of all electronic communication.
In a symbolic sense, the “standing social wave” could be hypothesized as “optimal STAB learning path” and could relate to Czikszentmihalyi’s (1994) “flow” state.
5.7. Does the STAB procedure prevail in global techno-socio-economic evolution?
As already mentioned in chapter 5.5, the STAB sequence (Fig. 15) might also be the long-term structure for the evolving relative importance of economic sectors in all countries economics, as measured by the share of GDP (%GDP = GDPsectoral / GDPtotal). Fig. 16 shows the average behavior of all countries’ economies as an idealized trend (each line is the share of one economic sector in percent: %GDP).
The definitions of S, A, T, B would additionally harmonize well with Manuel Castells’ view of a network society pertaining to a “space of flows” which complements a “space of places”:
S =starting point in the material world: elements for “space of places”
A =starting point in the network society: elements for “space of flows”
T =evolutionary build-up in the material world: emerging structure in “space of places”
B =evolutionary build-up in the network society: emerging structure in “space of flows”
In this light, civilisatoric evolution can be understood as a global learning process (Fig. 16).
6. A quality criterion for effective learning procedures: STAB
SGC represents the “STAB strategy” of informed team building and integration of opinions into a consensus. This abbreviation recalls that the most active voice of the entire score is S, T, A, B, consecutively, along the time of growth. The notion of “progress” has been replaced by the notion of “growth” e.g. already by the American philosopher John Dewey (Berding, 2000; Pragmatism, 2007).
The idea of the “STAB strategy” is that first discussion should take place and second team structures will grow (not the other way round). (In principle, also the other sequence could occur, namely SATB – then team building occurs through personal and affective exchange – but given present experience, to the author this does not seem to be the main path.)
At any rate the procedure does not run directly from the individual sphere to integration! Apparently, humans need such intermediate and mediating steps (T, A) for creating a holistic view (B) on life affairs.
As a result of this paper, a quality criterion for gaming and learning can be expressed on two levels:
On the individual psychological level (micro-learning), a wisely designed and functioning STAB procedure could structurally resemble the “flow state” discovered by Czikszentmihalyi (1994) – which aphoristically could be called the “singing when working” criterion.
As a practical consequence for the societal level (macro-learning), if institutions are conceptualized and structured in a non-dialogic manner (e.g. in a hierarchical manner) they could be seen as structurally suboptimally suited for responding to challenges – e.g. climate change. By inference, dialogic cultures (such as parts of the Anglo-Saxon culture with very old but still vivid democratic traditions, cf Landes, 1999; Mokyr, 1990) seem to be structurally better adapted to respond to severe structural global challenges, such as climate change.
For practical application of this general hypothesis, the art consists in arranging the social processes (sp) in a way that they create and give rise to an optimal societal procedure (SP) – which, in brief, is the task of a “social designer”.
Very generally and mathematically, the optimal STAB design would be defined by optimal growth of any of the four voices on the basis of a suitable rate of change and rhythm of the precursor voice.
It should be mentioned here that three levels of debriefing (Crookall, 1992; Lederman, 1992) were implemented for the case study “SURFING GLOBAL CHANGE” (SGC, 2006); in there a longer section on debriefing can be found:
inside SGC: regular feedbacks between students and facilitators during the game and at its end (upward semicircular arrows in Fig. 2)
on SGC: three written expert judgments from professionals on “game based learning” and “social dynamics” right after the first implementation in 2003
on SGC: official feedbacks from the side of the jury in the prize on media didactics “Medidaprix” (Medidaprix, 2007).
Additionally, inherent feedback activities occur in all levels based on the essence of SGC which is role switch between actor and monitoring spectator (cf. Petranek et al., 1992: 174). All three phases in the debriefing process (Lederman, 1992: 153) are thus operationalized.
Summing up, the “debriefer as co-learner” (Stewart, 1992: 206), namely the facilitator, was the person learning most during the SGC implementations. He, the author, learned from those “who construct meaning”, i.e. the “learners” (Klabbers, 2000: 397).
Here “Design” is understood in a generalized way, as a “compound of temporal, spatial and interindividual rhythms enacting procedures” that may pertain to differing substrates (of which chapter 2 gave an overview).
It is useful to discern (i) individual micro-learning and (ii) societal macrolearning.
In order to map complex social, learning or societal procedures, the following four dimensions were introduced in this paper: information conveyed (“soprano”, S), team building (“alto”, A), dialogue of facts (“tenor”, T), and integration with others’ experience (“bass”, B). “Scores” can represent the choreographic structure of such procedures. One objective for writing such scores might be to safeguard their effectiveness for “real” learning.
After analyzing several years of experience with the negotiation game “SURFING GLOBAL CHANGE” (SGC), and more than a decade of work with practical procedures in climate protection measures and monitoring global evolution of techno-socio-economic structures (GCDB), the following two generalized conclusions are suggested (chapter 5.5):
If a communicational culture or an institutional landscape is constituted including a dialogic and team oriented component, chances are higher that such human cultures respond better to severe complex global challenges such as global warming.
If a societal procedure allows for the “STAB” sequence, it could be better apt for such complex evolutionary challenges. The “STAB” approach was developed in this paper and means that the evolution of societal structures follows this path: increased learning of single facts generates and enhances dialogue which after growth generates team building that after growth prompts integration of differing views.
The main question to be answered is: Which sequence of gaming framework conditions delivers an optimal learning effect (understood here as real change of behaviour), independently of the initial stage of mastery of the learners? – The answer is: if structures are growing. Namely, if a sufficient level of S (= information) produces a structure of T (= dialog), sufficient T produces a structure of A (= team), and sufficient A a B (= integration) structure. In other words, if the (rhythmized) learning sequence of S, T, A, and B finally produces adequate 360 worldviews for all participating individual learners, then the choreography and design were successful. Such findings are in principle supported by structural pattern analysis of economic global long-term trends, if societal evolution is understood as societal macro-learning process.
As a concluding hypothesis in a nutshell, this suggestion for “Managing Global Change” is delivered: National and supranational frameworks should allow for the “STAB sequence of societal procedures”, i.e. rhythmically include debate, team building and integration of opposing views. Resulting (societal) structure building facilitates sustainable consensus and hence is effective for a humane reality of living.