Mobile games are really helpful in enhancing informal education, as informal education, as said above, works through, and is driven by, conversation, it is spontaneous and involves exploring and enlarging experience and can take place in any setting.
In training activities games are commonly used to supplement traditional lecture-based or online delivery of information. The role of games is primarily to reinforce the understanding of presented material, to invoke deliberation or discussions or to add variety in training. Games reinforce learning by means of their ability to offer immediate feedback to learners. Quite often, games are used to break up a training session, to initiate a learning event, or to conclude a learning event. Games usage in youth work is mainly carried out because they help instructors maintain participant interest or make the training more enjoyable and fun.
We can trace some point of criticism in non-formal education, as the lack of a specific definition and of a clear conceptual framework, the differences between what it claims to do and what it actually does. But the major developments in Information & Communication Technology (ICT) are increasing the potential of non-formal education, for example through its ability to: train and qualify practitioners online which will save costs and help practitioners reach remote usually isolated areas; facilitate the process of networking among organizations; conquer physical and spatial constraints, providing unprecedented educational opportunities to people of all socioeconomic levels around the globe.
The experiential learning model helps us to design a tool in non-formal education, given the great variety in its context (a math course for drop-out children would be different from a vocational training for adults and from an youth exchange in the topic of environment): in fact, there are some guiding principles that would help educators to design a successful NFE experience: democratic and nondirective styles; focus on participants needs; curriculum changed based on participants feedback; 1uestioning especially open-ended ones.
Till now, mobile learning is not yet very common. In business companies, applications are largely based on passive learning (for instance, employees can download a learning module into their mobile phones that they can view at their convenience). Some experts say that mobile learning should be an interactive process and allow for different ways of learning.
There are two important aspects that we need to underline talking about of the use of mobile games: first of all, most of the studies are focused on the use of serious games as quiz games or games which use the mobile devices as communication tools, so the use of mobile games is not yet studied in an in-depth way. Second, most mobile serious games are still used in formal education and not in non formal education as european training course or youth exchanges. Timeframes of five minutes are reported to be suitable for mobile learning, and this timeframes could be used with success in youth exchanges or similar activities.
It is important to remember that to use in the right way the mobile games, to help people learning in an informal or non-formal way, it is important to focus and determine what we would like the trainees to learn. If we fail to focus training around a central idea, we run the risk of using a game that fails to connect with the learners. To prevent this, tailor the material to the demographic (age group, familiarity, educational pre-text) so that the material is neither too difficult for, nor too familiar to the learner.
Games can be used before traditional training methods (e.g. lecture, presentation) to create friendly atmosphere, to make participants get to know each other in a more informal way. Games can be used during the training activity to: provide instruction in specific knowledge and skills acquirement; measure criterion performance; aid in formative and summary evaluations. Games can also be used after traditional instruction to: assess the level of acquired knowledge; check whether the information has been conveyed properly and young people have understood it; provoke creativity and inspiration.
Ellington and Earl (1998) describe ten ways of games usage for educational purposes:
• To reinforce teaching of basic facts and principles;
• To demonstrate applications of theory;
• To develop higher cognitive skills of all types;
• To support and supplement laboratory and studio work;
• To develop library and research skills;
• To act as an ‘icebreaker’;
• To develop communication skills;
• To develop interpersonal skills;
• To develop multifaceted work related skills;
• To achieve affective objectives of all types;
The internet platform contains set of theory pages, model games and resources. The details about methodology could be obtained by the electronic and printed versions of the manual as well as from the theory and example pages. The content of the platform could guide youth workers and leaders how to develop and use mobile games in the youth work.