The EU-funded ProsocialLearn project created fun educational games to help children learn prosocial skills. These digital games are intended to teach the benefits of cooperation, as well as the ability to recognise the emotions of others and express trustworthiness: they are available in multiple languages and feature activities such as building a tower, escaping from a monster, and solving a mystery.
They are aimed in particular at children at risk of social exclusion, who find it difficult to show empathy, and include hidden indicators that measure the development of a child’s skills. ProsocialLearn also developed a platform where teachers can track their pupils’ progress and plan lessons that incorporate the games.
Gamification – designing a task so that it includes elements from games – can make everyday activities more fun and engaging. The games created by ProsocialLearn are based on this approach and feature visual sensing, personalised adaptation of elements, player profiles, game mechanics and expressive virtual characters, and other functions. They can be accessed via a ‘Game Store’, where students can play games and teachers track their performance, and developers create new resources linked to games.
The project aimed to combine expertise in leisure gaming technology with academic theories about child socialisation and pedagogy, and therefore brought together researchers, psychologists and teaching professionals, as well as both traditional game development companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It also created a game design toolkit for SMEs to help them understand the specific requirements of prosocial games, and ran pilot projects and studies to gather scientific evidence of the benefits of prosocial gaming in different cultural settings.
ProSocialLearn in brief
- Total Budget: EUR 4 207 372.10 (EU contribution: EUR 3 448 102.13)
- Duration: 01/2015 – 02/2018
- Countries involved: Spain (coordinator), Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom
Key figures in the European Union
- Across Europe, 1 in 4 children under the age of six is at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
- In 2015, there were 28.7 million children in primary education in the EU.
- The European Commission’s Rethinking Education initiative advises countries on investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes.
Currently, there are more than 350,000 vacancies in Europe for highly skilled technical experts in areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and cybersecurity. Gains from investments in the digital technologies will only be reaped if there are enough qualified people able to use them. Only a highly skilled EU workforce will enable the deployment of these technologies in our economies.
To this end, the European Commission is proposing a new Digital Europe programme for 2021-27 with an overall budget of EUR 9.2 billion, to shape and support the digital transformation of Europe’s societies and economies. With EUR 700 million funding for digital skills, it will offer current and future students and technology experts good opportunities to pursue training and careers in advanced digital technologies.