Tierschutz erLeben. Devising a “Comic Automaton” to Innovate Learning
Keywords:simulation, decision-making, animal husbandry, animal welfare, storytelling
Abstract: The ongoing German R&D project Tierschutz erLeben aims to improve the animal welfare learning experience, primarily for agricultural students. The knowledge domain is shaped by many interrelated facts, often about informed decision-making under specific circumstances and the possible consequences. Unsatisfactory frontal teaching prevails in the current praxis. In contrast, the abstraction level and the complexity are less demanding.
An interactive simulation close to reality is not necessarily a solution as it can be inefficient and incomplete, failing to cover all necessary facts. We are working on an innovative gamified approach based on the concept of interactive comics, which shall be more efficient than realistic simulations potentially encompassing all necessary facts.
In our sense, an interactive comic is a form of a simulation with a comic’s feel and look. We call it a Comic Automaton. As with every comic, our system presents only relevant story events, thus promoting efficiency. Textual descriptions, diagrams, and other means that help attain completeness are easily incorporated. A Comic Automaton is highly interactive. The immediate goal of the learner is to interactively and iteratively create a story about management in animal husbandry, where every decision is correct and substantiated. Accomplishing a complete, correct comic is an indicator of learning success and shall be an experience of fun and satisfaction. Decisions of the learner, including mistakes and lacuna of knowledge, will trigger automatic continuation of the comic. For example, a comic frame where the user decides not to feed enough milk to a calf will trigger an automatic new frame where the calf becomes weak and possibly even dies.
Especially in the field of animal husbandry, virtual exercises that might also have a bad outcome for the animals are very important. Without real animals coming to harm, important lessons can be learned from these mistakes. The details of the Comic Automaton are ongoing work. Two user-centred workshops were held so far to unfold further and test the ideas.