As part of the 2nd Year Creative Digital Media, Multimedia Development 2 module, our class group worked on an Open Education Resource (OER)-source academic textbook on Game Design and Development. So far, our programme has been quite practical oriented, this textbook has been our first ‘big’ project in academic writing. Although many of us have felt hesitant and even unconfident in our ability, it’s safe to say that we’ve gained a lot of experience working through this. We would like to share our process for writing our textbook made for students, by students.
A member of the library staff, Lindsay Dowling, generously gave us a virtual tour of the online library tools and resources to support us when conducting our research. She gave us tips on how to limit our searches to gather more relevant material, such as using quotation marks (” “) for keywords and phrases and taking advantage of Boolean operators (‘AND’, ‘NOT’, ) in the advanced search menu. The biggest takeaway was using RefWorks to store all our research material and it also generates the citations for you.
Each student chose a topic of interest related to game design and development. Once the research topic was identified, we proceeded to create a search strategy that involved determining synonyms related to our topics to expand our search options. This included highlighting and searching keywords as well as sifting through bibliographies of our sources to look for other relevant papers.
Throughout our ‘live’ workshops we learned about various reading approaches in order to make the best use of understanding and critically engage with academic text. For this project, we aimed to collect between eight to ten relevant sources. Academic papers tend to be quite long and very wordy, to be efficient with our time we approached the reading in three steps. For the first reading, we glanced over headings, contents, keywords as well as any charts or graphs displayed in the paper. This gave us a sense of the contents of the paper. The second step involved reading the introduction and conclusion of the paper. We also critically analyzed the author’s approach and main ideas of the paper. This allowed us to grasp what the paper was about and what to expect. If the paper appeared relevant to our topic we carried on to the third step. In the third read-through, we highlighted the main ideas and arguments of the paper and wrote summarized notes of what we’ve read.
These notes that we took served as our annotated bibliographies containing the citations of our sources and an evaluation of the content which was also compared and contrasted with other papers we’ve read in order to bring to light differences and similarities in our research topics.
Once complete, the annotated bibliographies were incorporated and became our main content for our writing. We included relevant quotations and graphs to support our writing and structured the content in a way that had a natural flow and thought process. The introduction and conclusion were left last, as they proved much easier to formulate once the main content was written. Our book included a ‘check your understanding’ section at the end of each chapter to allow readers to engage with the concepts from the topics.
Over the course of this project, there were two main ways we provided and received feedback. The first was through ‘live’ workshops that took place several times over the semester where we would look at particular pieces of work, first discussing and then presenting ideas to improve it. In addition, three times during the semester we provided a critical review to our triad(group of three) with the members of the triad changing for each session. This feedback proved very beneficial to have a fresh pair of eyes read over each other’s work and provide constructive feedback. Looking at how others approached their writing gave us a better understanding of how we can pick apart our own writing to improve on it.
This academic writing process was new for us. Although there were areas where we struggled, allowing each other to critique and review our work has allowed us to push forward and publish our very first online textbook. We hope you enjoy reading it!
Julia Lo Iacono
Multimedia Development 2
2nd Year Creative Digital Media