Frugal Education in Malaysia, visiting Learning Science students at UNIMAS

A few weeks ago, early on a cold Saturday morning in the UK, I was fortunate enough to present on frugal education to Masters students studying Learning Sciences at UNIMAS (Univiersiti Malaysia Sarawak). My friend and ACES research colleague Dr. Fitri Mohamad invited me back to teach this year’s cohort, and gave me the opportunity to introduce frugal aspects of education design to her wonderful students as a break from a larger design sprint they were undertaking. Each student had been provided a pack of the Frugal Education Action Cards ahead of time. My job was to explain the concept and recommend use cases to support their game-based learning design sprints.

Fast forward one month and I’m in Malaysia for the ACES project and Creative Culture Gamification Seminar 2022. Fortunately, I was able to attend the Learning Science module in person, along with my fellow ACES colleague Luca Morini. It turns out the entire module had taken place online and this was the first time the students had been in the same room together. They usually meet up online as they’re located all across Malaysia, but on this occasion those that could, travelled many hours to attend the class and present posters on their game-based learning designs at the Gamification Seminar 2022.

Each design demonstrated many aspects of frugal education practice. Some focused heavily on the use of simple materials and the repurposing of existing resources in new ways, while others leveraged abundant technologies and free-to-use software to enhance engagement, develop interactive activities in creative ways, and develop hybrid physical/virtual gamified learning experiences. Each team demonstrated a strong understanding of frugal education aspects and detailed these within their respective presentations.

I spent time with each group, learning about and discussing their designs and experiences; sometimes suggesting further considerations, but mostly highlighting the excellent examples of frugal practice within their designs and learning from their outstanding work.

Many of the students teach in schools across Malaysia and each group has been able to design, prototype, test, and refine their learning designs with their students; gaining valuable feedback for future design iterations along the way. Some were collaborating across two schools many miles apart through synchronous and asynchronous methods to create immersive collaborative/competitive game designs without the need for expensive technological “solutions”; demonstrating that the materials and resources available can be used in novel ways combined with a little creative thinking to deliver engaging education.

There is a lot to learn from those that have engaged in this module, and I hope to explore how frugal aspects have impacted on the design process with Dr. Fitri in the coming weeks. I also hope to document their posters here and link to their great work if and where possible. πŸ™Œ

It was amazing to see how close the students were considering this was their first time meeting in person!! They were like a big happy family, it is a testament to Fitri’s excellent teaching ability.

Once again, I just want to thank all the students for welcoming myself and Luca into their class and for taking the time to demonstrate their wonderful and inspiring work. πŸ™