Conference Paper

RouteMate, a location based route learning system for users with disabilities: A playful methodological experience in different urban European landscapes

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RouteMate is an accessible location based mobile and web application, designed and developed in order to assist people with various disabilities learn simple routes. Methodology was supported by structuring the software using principles of game based learning, in order to scaffold the learning of new routes and promote independent travel. In this paper we will present the piloting methodology as well as the results from four different European countries, using RouteMate in a series of piloting sessions targeted to people in a vast age and ability range. We will also document the integration of RouteMate with playful scenarios as well as the motivational qualities of such an integration for users with disabilities on open route learning in five different European cities.

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... Besides the long established importance of gameplay as a privileged framework for learning and socialization, modern digital games enjoy a number of additional features. According to studies, digital games implicitly include many educational theories and their qualities, such as their enhanced capability to simulate real-world and everyday-life situations in a straightforward fashion, as well as their ability to attract the player's engagement through augmented playability mechanisms and balanced game feedback (Saridaki et al, 2009). They offer the students challenges and rewards that increase interest and result in further skill development (Sardone & Devlin-Scherer, 2009). ...
... In many occasions, special education teachers embrace change and new technological tools much easier, due to the specific needs of their pupils, including needs for playful educational scenarios, simulations, repeat of the information, as well as the need for personalization and adaptivity. However, practical implications, lack of guidance and poor game design make it difficult to create alternative strategies that implement serious games in the curriculum and educators become sceptical towards using games in their educational scenarios (McFarlane et al, 2002; Saridaki et al, 2009) ...
The purpose of this paper is to present a series of observations made by researchers and educators on the integration of serious games in the educational experience of users with intellectual disabilities (ID). Data were gathered from four different studies and different games were used, in order to identify a successful model of games based learning application. Moreover, results that highlight the motivational importance of playful integration towards the promotion of self determination in students with ID, will be presented. According to the authors’ findings, special education can be benefited from the successful integration of digital games in the educational scenario, creating a safe and personalized educational environment for the students, as well as a valuable motivational tool for the educator - especially when the educator takes a threefold role, able to support a hybrid model of digital and non digital play. Trying to assist the educational efforts of special education teachers, the authors will present the results of a series of case studies and applications, the role of the educator, as well as practical considerations that resulted in the sketch of a model of playful game-based learning integration.
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