Creative Designing Of Personalized Game Model In Modern Media Education


Based on the pace of development of the digital economy, the scientific discourse on the adaptation of media education at all levels of the national education system has been raised. The discussion is caused by a number of factors. First of all, in the digital world, media education (both professional and non-professional) starts integrating into the training process of the professionals of a new formation. Having a new approach is crucial for going into the future, with tough competition and massive use of innovative technologies. Secondly, national education system is now at the stage of a large-scale reconstruction: the goal of the reform is to speed up learning process. Thirdly, the concepts of professional and non-professional education are being revised, taking into account the growing demand for media education and the use of mass media communications, whereas the criteria of the learning approach in these areas differ. This determines the pursuit for improvement in teaching methods and emergence of new learning formats such as game form. The article systemizes pedagogical functions when adapting the method of projects in higher education, introduces the description of the basic scenario and the variational components of the educational project "Dossier on the hero" for journalist students, and proves its feasibility for training specialists in a digital (media-oriented) economy. It also presents comparative data on a number of projects implemented within the framework of bachelor programs "Journalism", "Advertising and Public Relations" and the Master's program "Organization of Information Production" (RUDN–University).

Keywords: Higher schooleducationdigital agecreative projectmethod of play


The inclusion of media education as a discipline in the system of national education is conditioned by the need to acquire theoretical and practical skills in the field of interpersonal and mass communications, in the field of media culture, which is part of a nationwide culture defined as a "special type of people's communication" (Mezhuev, 2011). If earlier the study of the knowledge code in the field of media was the prerogative of the professional journalism department, then in the information age the need for the competent use of media theories and practices becomes a demanded competence that levels out age, social, and international barriers (Peters & Roberts, 2015; Resta & Laferrière, 2015). The dominance of the information culture, built on the events and culture of dialogue (textual, verbal, visual, screen, existential, virtual communications), the need for the formation of information consciousness (Urazova, 2013) draw social actors to borrow techniques, forms and models of information production from the journalistic environment, and motivate the development of divergent thinking (creative thinking in the search for multiple solutions to one problem), based on creativity (Kashapova et al., 2013; Razumovsky, 2016). Since creativity indicates the ability of the individual to non-standard thinking, his intuitive sensitivity in finding solutions to the production problem, in the educational process, its formation is associated with the design of new forms and models of learning. In particular - the gaming model, where the learner (the reflecting subject) presents the variability of his knowledge and skills (Volkova, 2012; Qian & Clark, 2016; Schrier, 2016). The method of creative designing of the game model of training which reveals intellectual abilities and the potential for reflection of participants both in a personalized and collective plan, is the most promising (Griffin & Care, 2014; Hung, Sun & Yu, 2015).

Problem Statement

The origins of designing as a method of learning originate in the “academicization” of creative professions, when Italian master architects, having decided to upgrade the status of craft, turned it into a science. They combined practice with theory, science with the practice, shifting the work on designing buildings from the workshops to the academy. Journeymen, learning the profession, gaining experience and skills, got theoretical knowledge, which turned them into masters. The field of application of the method was expanded, and by the beginning of the XIX century it was used by all art academies and institutes, and in the twentieth century American teacher W.H. Kilpatrick announced the method of projects as the basis of education. Unlike traditional academic methods, designing is aimed to motivate for immediate practice, rather than transferring specific knowledge and skills, to increase internal motivation and self-esteem, building independent thinking and social responsibility. Kilpatrick identified four types of projects: Produce Type (involves construction or production of a useful article/object to “embody some or plan in external form”; Consumer Type (provides opportunities for appreciation of some aesthetic experience); Investigation Type (involves study and investigation of practical situations/problems); Drill Type (provides opportunities for mastery of certain skills) (Kilpatrick, 1918). In the XX century, the method of projects was discussed in Canada, Argentina, Britain, Germany, India, Australia, the USSR. From 1930 to 1968, there was a decline in interest in the method approach due to the fact that the emphasis on the fusion of theory and practice of teaching began to threaten the already existing achievements in the field of systematic general and academic education (Knoll, 1997).

Currently, the project method is discussed in two ways: 1) as the project approach, applicable to any "in-depth study of a practical topic worthy of the student's attention and efforts", which is performed either by a group or by one student (Kurzyukova, 2013; Katz & Chard, 2000); 2) as project-based learning, which differs from the project approach in a way that the acquisition of skills and their application are combined into a single process (Lasauskiene & Rauduvaite, 2015). In the first case project is a supplement to systematic training. While systematic training helps to overcome a lack of knowledge, providing a conscious acquisition of skills, project work relies on skills and means the independent application of previously acquired skills. In the second case, although students can express their opinion, be determined with a choice, the projects "are carefully planned, organized and evaluated to help students absorb key academic knowledge, practice the skills that are in demand in the 21st century (co-participation, communication, critical thinking); and create high-quality, authentic products and presentations "(Bell, 2010).

The results of the project activity in education are characterized by two main features: "discovery" (the subject of the educational process discovers personal and subjective meanings) and "generation" (the subject of the educational process generates some new product) (Desyaeva, 2017).

There is a difference between the concepts of "project-based learning" and "problem-based learning," the concepts of which. According to D. Dewey they should be distinguished. Whereas problem learning derives from a personalized query and is limited to an abstract solution to the problem (Harteveld & Sutherland, 2017; Shabihi & Taghiyareh, 2017; Shabihi, Taghiyareh & Abdoli, 2017), project-based learning is production-oriented and requires the application of theoretical and practical strategies to solve the problem.

The design method was used as a basis for the game projects "Dossier on the Hero" at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia (RUDN–University), introduced in 2010 in the process of preparing master's degree journalists and PR specialists studying the discipline "Media Management" (author I. Volkova).

Research Questions

The university training of specialists for working in the mass communication system is constantly updated, responding to the transformation of the digital media space. The global network has radically changed the way of delivery, creation and selection of content, bringing up the ideas of co-authorship, the speed of preparation of the media product. Now professionals are opposed by millions of amateurs without special training, and the value of media text is determined by the least time spent on its production and consumption (Niemeyer, 2014; Peters & Roberts, 2015). The requirements for educational programs that form key journalistic competencies in the context of updating information and communication technologies (ICT) are also changing (Bell, 2010; Qian & Clark, 2016; Resta & Laferrière, 2015). When making operational decisions, it would seem logical to use already tested models, templates, matrices, but this cause-and-effect relationship is not obvious. The method of projects as the training of an algorithmic and orderly economical action aimed at the result is not a panacea. As a result, a hypothesis was put forward that project training deprived of disclosing the creative potential of participants is not relevant even with the use of ICT. While the creative non-linear design of study assignments for future media masters can lead to an optimal result in the light of global changes in the labor market.

Purpose of the Study

The ongoing project "Dossier on the Hero" is being implemented within the framework of the discipline "Media Management" of the PFUR for eight years. More than 350 students took part in it. Several times it was corrected, responding to inquiries from the media industry and teachers who were searching for an adequate response to the challenges of the time. Currently, there are three versions of the project model: a game, a traditional project, a creative project. The purpose of the included dynamic observation (the chronological framework of 2010-2017) was to determine which approach should be given preference in order to fit current media realities. In fact, it was tested the hypothesis about the priority of creative design method among other types of educational and educational activities.

Since the script for the “Dossier on the Hero” project was first published six years ago (Volkova, 2012), the aim of the article is also to introduce three versions of the “Dossier on the Hero” into scientific discourse (approbation was carried out during the eight educational and educational periods).

All variants of the game model begin the same way: at the first stage, the interest, incentive and motivation of potential players to participate are revealed (Hamari et al., 2016; Plass et al., 2015). After the lecture on the typology of market subjects (entrepreneur, manager, specialist), students respond in writing to the question: "Who am I - a manager or specialist?". They do not realize that this is not an abstract self-diagnosis, but the beginning of a project. The questionnaire identifies both real managers and those who consider themselves to be so. The number of imaginary managers is less, if the introduction to the game was efficient. It should be noted that for 7 years of project management the ratio of managers and specialists has changed: it was "1: 5" and became "1: 8", which indicates both a decrease in the number of proactive students, and an increase in the number of students with who possess measurable skills (or aspire to be). The next stage is the formation of game teams, which reveals the leadership qualities and character features of players, the ability to work in a team. The teacher deliberately breaks down friendly pairs, distributes foreign students to different groups, level up, if possible, the gender number of participants. In one team, two leaders-managers can be united to create a problem situation. Stereotypes break, new groups arise, students test new roles. For example, a student with the image of an indifferent truant, being in the manager's chair, suddenly reveals himself in an unexpected way.

Research Methods

In the course of the research, the following methods were used: document analysis (project scenarios, student test data, project team reports, rapid expert questioning), including a reflexive description of the design algorithm and dynamic monitoring.

The entry point to the project is the choice of the hero by the team leaders. Usually this is a well-known person whose contribution to the theory, history and practice of management worth to be studied. For example, they are the Russian book publisher Ivan Sytin, "the first lady of American journalism" Catherine Graham. In the "Heroes List" are more than 40 characters, including Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Chester Barnard, Ted Turner, Mark Zuckerberg, Dmitry Abrikosov, Lee Iacocca, Rupert Murdoch, Yuri Nechaev-Maltsov. Among other five criterias two are: the effectiveness of managerial activity and the entertaining biography (with ups and downs). Then the teacher chooses one of the three design approaches, which differ by pedagogical goals, rules, the final purpose and the assessment system. In other words, the idea is to give the priority to the change, which should happen to the students at the exit point, at the finish of the project. Undoubtedly, the personality of the teacher, his understanding of the tasks of education and the perception of the professional competencies of the journalist affect the formation of a common list of heroes.

In three versions of the gaming model, the convergence-integration algorithm for applying the methods differs.

Option 1 - Game

The aim of the project is based on the testing the approach of gameplay by the students, for them to gain pleasure and archive a streaming state. These goals are correlated with the teacher's goal to form the student’s motivation for independent study of management, to fix the internal impulse to repeat the game-experiment, to use the team method of work. The game simulation model is built on the learning tasks: to systematize the knowledge obtained in lectures, seminars on management, to be prepared for professional activities. It recreates the problems which the future media experts will face. Educational motivation (assessment) is internal: the number of points, of which the assessment for the course is made, are based on self-evaluation of the students when discussing the number of points in their team. The role of participants is distributed by the team leader (manager). A mixed method of generating game events is used (the process is close to the algorithm of a real administrative process). The rules of the game are aimed at recreating real events and conflicts existing in prototypes of simulated reality in group work.

Implementation. "Dossier on the hero" is the copyright materials made by students, based on empirical data, found and analyzed by the team. The teacher transmits the assignments in a fragmented, often coded manner. It is a suspense of the game. Made on time "Dossier on the hero" is not the final of the game. The game should end with something that is not formulated by the rules, but reveals the image of the hero and should be interesting to junior students, teachers. In practice, the finals were different. In the game project of 2010, the graduates wrote a play called "Sytin and Darkness", prepared scenario, costumes, roles, and played the performance to university students. In 2012, master students came up with a reconstruction, reproducing the events of a black and white ball-masquerade American writer Truman Capote. Dressed according to the rules of the 1966 party, students (young men in black suits, girls in white dresses) told the story of Katrin Graham, main personage of the ball, and distributed the Washington Post special edition, made and published by themselves. Graduates of 2013 wrote on the basis of "Dossier" documentary novel "Ivan Dmitrievich Sytin: a great manager and educator." They learned the bookbinding to be able to make two books by hand.

Option 2 - Hard project

This project was held only once, in 2014. For students, the goal was to obtain the specific skills and pass the test. As a result, the final score was displayed.

The teacher's goal in Hard project is to prepare students with stable universal skills (hard skills). This is rigidly structured project with fixed program and clear results to be achieved. The project can be replicated as a technological matrix, guaranteeing the effect. It is built on the cognitive knowledge of the student, and the tasks are comparable (widely speaking) with a computer program. The goal of the project team leaders is specifically indicated: to create an efficient team that optimally solves the tasks; find universal methods of organizing the process; develop their own methods of motivation; perform tasks strictly without breaking deadlines. The teacher is in contact with the leaders of the groups, if necessary, can prompt certain decisions.

Decision. The tasks were: 1). Create a structured annotated catalog of sources about the hero (books, films, plays, articles, including those on the web, museums, websites, communities, blogs, etc.). 2). Write a biography of the hero taking into account the course ("Practical Management") and the target audience (students, future communicating journalists, PR specialists). 3). Read the memoir of the hero (if any), his book, choose quotes for the target audience. 4). In the absence of memoirs, pick up quotes from published interviews. 5). To think up five questions about the chosen hero for the final test on management (with variants of answers). 6). Write an essay on the topic "Why acquaintance with the hero is important to me?".

Training. The first interim assessment is made by an independent commission: the editor of the "Who's Who in Management" almanac (target audience is journalists and PR specialists) and two members of the editorial board. They study the "Dossiers on the hero" made by project teams, check either sections of the task are presented, the title pages are drawn up according to uniform rules or not. This situation is similar to a tender. According to the terms of the project, there are supposedly three vacancies in the "Who's Who in Management" collection, for which seven game teams are competing to get the place. Evaluation criteria are known by the students and the commission. After the winners are announced, the Dossier must be analyzed so ones who lost the tender understand their mistakes. To the final test (fight for an excellent mark) all participants of three winning teams are allowed. The remaining four teams that have not passed the tender, send only their leaders for the final participation. The choice of the leader is subject to anonymous voting by the team members.

Option 3 - Creative project

The goal of the project for students is twofold: conceptually, it balances at the border of the project process - internal and external.

Creative design involves the refusal of the teacher (designer) from strict rules, which goes to the "soft" (Kashapova et al., 2013) algorithm. The teaching goal is to form in the student the universal social skills (soft skills), only indirectly related to media management: creativity, persuasion, teamwork, personal development, time management, etc.

The task of the teacher is to create the situation where the outcome will depend on the quality of the team members' interaction, create conditions that will promote the formation of social skills. One of the ways to do it is connected with the evaluation of the project results, the students know in advance that the evaluation for all team members will be the same; that the final work is evaluated by professionals; that the final team is allowed only in its entirety (the absence of someone is forbidden).


What are the differences between the creative project and the game? First difference is that project forms part of the reality, it is structured, but not limited by playing space, is devoid of spontaneity, is focused on a specific result, which has a benefit outside the educational process. In the creative project there are some elements of gaming. But in the gamified practices there is a master who is not included in the process, under whose control non-player actions with game elements are conducted (Savery, 2006). In the creative project, the instructor-designer only establishes rules that can cause the state of the flow of action (attributed to the game) but may not. Thus, the pleasure of play is not the goal of working on a project, as it is in a true game. In the traditional project of competence pleasure is a tool to measure the acquired knowledge and skills, while in the creative project its ideology is determined by the already existing competencies.

Designing. A lesson for students on the theory and methodology of organizational-activity games (GPI) of G.P. Shchedrovitsky (Shedrovizkiy, 1997), takes place prior to the work on the creative project. It explains why a student-manager (team leader) cannot force other students to perform assignments using a system of external motivations; demonstrates that conditions are necessary for joint coordinated work, including errors. The creative project also involves working on the "Dossier", but this is an additional material. The end of the project is a video presentation of the documentary about the hero, which reflects the procedural issues: what is the purpose of the film, what it brings to the audience (future journalists, PR specialists); what is the drama and meaning of the narrative story of the hero; which mechanisms are involved to present the main idea. The second part of the final presentation is the demonstration of 90-second trailer for the future film.

Implementation. A week before the performance of the presentations, team leaders receive a special assignment from the teacher. "Organize a joint event to gather the team, the main condition – everyone should participate!" The message is aimed to stimulate the creativity and choose of the event (visit of the museum, cinema, theater, home party, group photo session, etc.), which allows to unite the team.

Decision. Before the presentation of the project the teams undergo anonymous testing. There are three options to give the answer by the team members: 1) they agree to receive the same number of points; 2) the leader distributes the scores received by the team at his own discretion, and not equally; 3) there is a desire to work on a new project within the group. With positive answers to all questions, the team receives the highest score for cohesion. The second point is given by the jury after viewing video presentations and trailers. Then the points are summed up. But this is not the end of the project, but the stage of the training. Within three days the team leaders prepare a report "How we did it" and send it to the teacher. This is a report about the work of the group on the Dossier, on the presentation since the announcement of the team. This report outlines doubts, difficulties, the process of the formation of the team. Points for the reports are given by the teacher, they are summed up with the previous ones. Materials are saved in the archive of the department to be used for classes on crowdfunding.


To sum up, it is necessary to state:

  • the game format differs significantly from traditional forms of education classes, allowing to discover the intellectual capabilities of players, motivates to creative solutions to the problem;

  • all the variants of the gamified model can serve as a basic module for mass and professional media education and pass a number of stages (design, implementation, decision, specific training) necessary to achieve the set result;

  • the most simplified version is a game that reveals the participants' creative abilities, their aspirations for cognition, improvement of communicative and practical skills;

  • the traditional project is designed for participants with knowledge and skills, who are potentially ready to be included in the production process;

  • the creative project is suitable for a more mature team of players who possess knowledge, potential, creative features and individual capability to making independent decisions;

  • in all variants of the game model, the dominant figure still remains the teacher, who is ready to pass to students his knowledge, skills, worldviews about the transformations of the modern era.


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