Spaces of Joint Inquiry Through Visual Facilitation and Representations in Higher Education: An Exploratory case study


  • Heidi Hautopp
  • Stine Ejsing-Duun



visual facilitation, visualisations, online learning, students as designers, design as inquiry, higher education


This study investigates how the use of visual facilitation and representations, e.g. visualisations and video productions, combined with peer‑feedback sessions can create exploratory approaches to game design in online teaching. The article analyses an iterative game development process in an online learning context. The empirical data is primarily based on an explorative case study of “Games for change”; a course held in 2018 in which master students from the international Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) design games that address issues in society. Throughout the course, the students from universities in Finland, Sweden and Denmark engaged in a cross‑cultural collaboration across campuses. The purpose of the study was to explore how to establish an online space for joint design inquiry in the context of ‘games for change’ across time and space as well as cultural and professional barriers. The data used for analysis includes teaching observations, videos of play sessions, photos and visual representations, students’ reflection papers and students’ written and oral evaluations after completion of the course. The analysis is based on different problem‑based learning (PBL) activities; lectures, video instructions, presentation‑ and feedback sessions, reflexive exercises and students’ self‑directed design and learning processes in groups. As part of the game course, teachers presented game theory and exercises through videos and visualisations to support the students’ iterative game design processes. The analysis of the PBL activities shows that teachers’ video instructions relating theoretical game concepts to the students’ actual group work supported the introduction to the game field as well as their design processes. The balance between the value of video instructions with specific feedback and teachers’ time for preparation is a relevant issue for further exploration in online teaching. Moreover, findings show that the students’ visualisations and video productions exemplifying game situations created a visible reference point for further discussions in feedback sessions across campuses, which guided game development. Thus, the combination of inquiry approaches, critical game theory and design processes combined with students’ visualisations and video productions provides interesting connections for bridging gaps between cultures and professions, e.g. in art and games. By the rich and visual descriptions of PBL activities, student work and reflective evaluations, the exploratory case study can function as inspiration for applying similar approaches to new local contexts in higher education.



28 Jan 2021