Development of an Interactive Game Employing Social Learning Skills Based on the Needs of Special Children of DSWD Amor Village

Bachelor Thesis, 2020

65 Pages, Grade: 85.0


Table of Content


1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Research Assumptions
1.4 Objectives of the Study
1.5 Significance of the Study
1.6 Scope and Limitation
1.7 Definition of Terms

2.1 Aesthetics
2.1.1 Educational Game Concept
2.1.2. 2D Animation
2.1.3. Aesthetics in Game Development for Computer-based Interventions
2.2 Communication Theory and Multimedia Learning
2.2.1 Information Processing
2.2.2. Multiple Channels for Learning
2.2.3. Learning through Multimedia
2.3 Autism and Technology
2.3.1 Applied Behavior Analysis
2.3.2 Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT)
2.3.3 Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
2.3.4 Training and Education of Autistic Children
2.3.5 Game Design in Interactive Games for Children with Autism

3.1 Theoretical Framework
3.1.1 Game Theory
3.1.2 Game-based Learning
3.1.3 Makaton Technique
3.1.4 Implementation with Special Ed. Curricula
3.2 Discussion
3.3 Conceptual Framework
3.4 Justification of the Study
3.5 Synthesis

CHAPTER 4: Methodology
4.1 Design and Development
4.1.1 Qualitative Literature Review
4.1.2 Design Process
4.1.3 Material Exploration
4.2 Budgetary Requirements
4.3 Gantt Chart
4.4 Research Design
4.5 Research Instruments
4.6 Sampling and Population
4.7 Research Respondents
4.8 Data Collection Procedure
4.9 Analysis & Interpretation
4.10 Ethical Considerations

CHAPTER 5: Research Findings
5.1 Pre-Implementation Interview
5.1.1 Traditional Learning Tools
5.1.2 Staff Response and Receptivity for Multimedia Approach
5.1.3 Aspect-Focus of Interactive Game
5.2 Post-Implementation Assessment
5.3 Comparative Analysis of Traditional vs. Alternative
5.3.1 Accessibility
5.3.2 Effectivity
5.3.3 Ease of Use
5.3.4 Points of Improvement

CHAPTER 6: Conclusion and Recommendations
6.1 Conclusion
6.2 Recommendation
6.3 Theoretical Analysis




This study aimed to explore the prospect of utilizing multimedia learning platform as a tool to mitigate learning disabilities of children with disabilities in the Accelerating Minor’s Opportunity for Recovery (AMOR) Village in Anao, Tarlac. For this research, children with Autism with mental ages of 7 years old were the sample population, in which interactive learning games via android devices were implemented parallel to their original special education curriculum. The specially developed system integrated the Makaton Technique, a popular manual learning method that utilizes pictures and words to help children develop communication and social skills. A pre-test was first done to gather valuable information about the children inside the institution, and to assess the skills that teachers may have wanted for the game to target. The gathered data revealed that many of the employees of the DSWD Amor Village were open to integrating learning in multimedia platform and has commented that social skills and communication skills were among the skills the children need help on. After gathering these data, the game was designed using Adobe Flash, adapting the Makaton and the suggestions of the social workers. In the implementation of the 2-week program, a qualitative data analysis showed that listening skills and social interaction skills were continually progressing for the PWAs. A staggering jump from 1 being not skilled to 3 being averagely skilled were prominent in the gathered data. In terms of overall communication skills, the response was quite stagnant. This showed that there are gaps to be filled in the developed interactive game. Nonetheless this approach has made it possible for this sector to understand the value of technology, specifically multimedia arts, and how it can affect growth and development and cater to these group of people.

Keywords: multimedia learning platform, interactive learning, autism, Down’s syndrome.

Chapter 1


1.1. Background of the Study

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder of early childhood characterized by impaired social learning and communication; restricted interests, activities and learning; diminished imaginative thought; and stereo or repetitive nonfunctional movements or verbal realizations. According to medical science, the onset of such impairment is before the age of three. While symptoms can vary greatly during the years of onset, it is specifically linked to intellectual retardation. (The Cambridge-dictionary-of-Psychology.pdf, page 68)

Autism is common disorder that affects many children and adults worldwide. However, a wide range of research has been conducted in this area to offer suitable approaches, such as treatment and education to help children and adults who suffer from Autism. Learning thru digital world nowadays is easy but teaching children with autism would require a different and more innovative method. Making an interactive animation for the children can aid Special Education teachers to better help children with autism to understand on what they are learning (Zimmerman, 2011).

On that note, many have delved on the tactics to ensure effective learning. These treatments and educational approaches have been developed to help cope with Autism, of which two developed in the United State of America have found wide application: The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Music and Art Therapy Program (MATP) for Persons with Disability specifically with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Service Manual and Session Guide of DSWD 2015 page 45). These two programs are now extensively implemented worldwide. Children and adults who have Autism will be affected in many areas like being the ability to communicate. Some children will learn to communicate slowly throughout their lives on the other extreme, some may never be able to talk.

While these learning tools have become effective in their implementation, the gap remains to be in its interactivity and what medium it can complement with. According to the National Autistic Society’s (NSA) publication on visual supports, programs such as PECS and MATP have been standard approaches in dealing with children with autism, but as time goes by, parameters such as degree of attention and societal changes have made its clear impact not only on the children but the effectivity of these techniques to the children. On that note, an innovation in terms of its implementation should be done, from which multimedia platforms such as an interactive game can help solve.

In that regard, the main intention of the program is to prepare students of DSWD Amor Village with Autism live independently in accordance to the Autism Research Institute standards in which PWA’s can differentiate good and bad behavior, learn manners, grooming and develop skills. Furthermore, the program is based on the idea that most Autistic people are more efficient in learning through visual aids rather than words or sounds. A usual social interaction with a PWA entails asking him or her what she’d like to have for breakfast. Rather than asking the child directly what she/he wants, adults can show pictures of the different kinds of things they could have. The child then can point to the picture which is much easier for them over forcing to speak since most of them have developed speech impairments as well.

The study’s approach to investigating how best to support these learners with special educational needs was to build a multimedia learning system aimed specifically at learners with autism or Down’s syndrome, and to test whether there is evidence of disparate levels of learning from each group of learners. The system was designed from educational technology principles (Mayer and Moreno, 2003), best practice and observations of actual teaching scenarios, so that it would be transparent how it sought to support learning needs. While these slants have made their impact on the United States, third world countries such as the Philippines have yet to see the fruits of such innovation. There is no available statistic pertaining to the exact number of cases of autism in the Philippines, but the Center for Disease Control have estimated that 1% of the population of the world is living with this disability. With that, it can be estimated that over 1 million Filipinos are inflicted.

1.2. Statement of the Problem

Considering the evolution of the society in which attention spans are reduced drastically, this research asked whether a fresher multimedia platform such as an interactive learning game can help people, especially children with autism to learn effectively. Likewise, it aimed to answer what elements on previous implementations such as PECS and MATP can be useful in creating the interactive learning game. In terms of elements in the game, the researchers want to remark on how effective and persuasive an interactive game can be even for children with special needs. In the multimedia facet, this research aimed to answer the following questions:

- What aspects can be adapted from previous implementations such as the MAKATON that can be used to enhance the design of the interactive game to increase its effectivity in social skills development for the PWA's?
- How does the implementation of an integrated system of learning like the interactive game affect the performance of the PWAs in terms of communication skills, social skills and listening skills?

1.3 Objectives of the Study

In that light, this research intended to determine the potency of multimedia tools such as videos, pictures and animation to improve social relationships of children with autism in AMOR, Anao, Tarlac, and eventually lead them to a more independent and inspired living conditions.

- To create a learning instrument which employs an interactive game platform, applying the elements used in previous manual techniques and with respect to the design improvements that will be drawn from the study.
- To design the interactive game in which Game Theory, Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning, and Game-based Learning Theory are employed.

1.4 Research Assumptions

Developing an interactive game using social learning tools requires an intricate process in terms of what multimedia platform to utilize as well as the elements included in the game. But aside from this fact, it should be established that the research is dependent on a variety of assumptions. Thus, this study will be implored based on the following assumptions that:

- That the multimedia platform using games can be well-received by the children with autism in AMOR, Anao, Tarlac.
- That the interactive games included can be effective when implemented partnered with their original Special Education curriculum facilitated by the SPED teachers, psychologists and social workers.
- That the interactive learning scheme can be an effective tool to help children with autism to practice good social behavior and possibly, and independent living conditions.

1.5 Significance of the Study

This research topic surveyed the current approaches to treating autism that are present here in the Philippines. By having a wider perspective on the current scenario of autism in the country, the discrepancies of the past approaches can be exposed. With knowing the vulnerabilities of these approaches, researches can now focus on providing possible solutions to help improve the learning scheme of these children. Specifically, this study will highlight how multimedia platforms can help mitigate learning difficulties of PWA’s.

On the other hand, this study intended to put the spotlight on the possible amends that gaming, specifically interactive learning games can have on PWA’s. Gaming overall has a negative stigma in the Philippines mainly due to its negative effect on children in terms of their education. By structuring gaming as a platform for learning, and targeting a population that desperately needs help, it may be possible to erase the negative connotation that entails that wonderful product of multimedia arts and sciences.

But more importantly, the most significant factor of this research is its intention to evoke the Philippine government to provide more focus on social welfare and people with disabilities. If the gathered data have indeed proven that multimedia platform in the form of interactive learning games can be an innovative solution to learning disabilities, it may inspire the leadership of the government to support pioneering solutions that can be implemented in a variety of groups in the society.

1.6. Scope and Limitations

In this research paper, Game Theory, Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning and Game-Based Learning Theory were utilized to develop an interactive game that puts emphasis on helping children of DSWD Amor Village. This interactive game utilized 2D animation, gameplay design as well as elements from previously applied techniques. It measured the degree as to whether this type of platform can be effective in helping PWA’s develop their social skills.

Since data can be gathered more efficiently in a sample population, the scope of this study is to get an idea on how effective the platform is on PWA’s of AMOR, Anao, Tarlac, only, which is a subsidiary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). For effective sampling population purposes, other centers and departments were excluded in the implementation.

Likewise, the study was limited to implementation on PWA’s with mental age of 7 years and above since they are the ones who are the most capable of working with gadgets and are likely to have more development. The researcher was also limited by the time of implementation, setting their trial time in the span of only 1 month.

1.7 Definition of Terms

2D - the quality of being two-dimensional.

DSWD – Department of Social Welfare Development

Psychological Assessment – process of testing that uses a combination of techniques to help arrive at some hypotheses about a person and their behavior, personality and capabilities

Interactive Learning - a more hands-on, real-world process of relaying information in classrooms.

Autism - a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication

Chapter 2


This review of related literature is comprised of different concepts that reinforces the idea behind the Interactive Learning Game for Special Children. Generally, this chapter will discuss aesthetics, communication and technology literatures. Specifically, it will tackle on established approaches for autism and how it can be applied using Multimedia platforms. Therefore, it is also important to note how multimedia transforms learning entirely by showing concepts on how information is processed in people. Educational Gaming will also be presented as a type of multimedia that can be possibly applied in therapy, and more specifically 2D type of animation.

2.1 Aesthetics

Education by way interactive learning game is a challenge to be had simply due its intricacy in content and process, for which elements from a curriculum is followed and complemented in such a way to provide a gaming feel. Considering the shortened attention span as a fruit of societal evolution, it has become harder and harder for education game developers to create products that have assimilated educational content. Using aesthetic tools and recognizing education game impact, one can appreciate and see the processes that are involved in creating these games.

2.1.1 Educational Game Concept

Gaming industry today is making a big impact to the society, most games are for children. Over eighty percent of the top apps in the education category of the apple store, targets children. (Barsehian, 2012). One of the best ways for the children to learn something educational and can apply to the real-life word is to create a game application, this game would also be applicable to the special children like those who have autism or down syndrome. Using the Game Based Leaning (GBL) the game is designed to balance the subject with the gameplay and the player will still have the ability to retain and the said subject to the real world (ETR, 2013).

2.1.2. 2D Animation

According to relevant studies by Mayer, multimedia is at its peak effectivity when content and format is engaging to the students. This is true for many cases since active engagement encourages students to construct knowledge and organize information in to meaningful schemes. In that light, many researchers have delved on how to make presentations livelier and appealing to the learners.

Multimedia that is more personalized engages learners more than multimedia that is less personalized (Mayer, 2005a). Presentations that have a more conversational tone tend to be more engaging than those that have a more formal tone. And, presentations that use the more familiar ―you and I‖ are more engaging than those that present in the third person (Mayer, 2005a). Learners tend to find presentations that use a familiar voice with a familiar accent more engaging than those that use a less familiar voice and accent (Mayer, Sobko and Mautone, 2003).

Engagement seems to play a role in activating knowledge structures (Mayer 2005). As with other activation strategies, engagement seems to help activate existing schema (organizing structures) and create new schema. This makes it easier to absorb the new information and facilitate the transfer of knowledge from working memory to long term memory.

The special children’s learning is different to normal children. They need a lot of attention, because special children cannot focus on one subject for a long time (Fredericks, 2005). 2D animation can help the especial children to learn to behave right until they grow. Without the visual tool, it can cause difficult tantrum behaviors for any child, and may be particularly difficult for children diagnosed with an autism, Down syndrome or other special need. Children with special needs often need more direct and visual instruction of what they can and cannot do in public places (Jaafar, 2015).

2.1.3. Aesthetics in Game Development for Computer-based Interventions

The field of game design and development is not necessarily new in helping children with autism. Many researches have already tackled implementing interactive games to help children learn in various skills. Malinverni, Mora-Guiard et. al found that there were gaps in the design approach of interactive games for treatment of autism due to poor game design which 'failed to fulfill the therapeutic objectives or to properly engage children. For this reason, they proposed an inclusive game design approach which presents strategies to integrate expertise of special needs professionals and game designers. They found in their exploratory study that there must be an aspect of aesthetics to keep their PWAs engaged. (Maliverni,, 2016)

2.2 Communication Theory and Multimedia Learning

This study aims to design an interactive animation for children with Autism or Down’s syndrome. Therefore, it is necessary to look in to the theory behind multimedia learning. Richard Mayer defines multimedia learning as learning from words and pictures (Mayer, 2001). He states that “multimedia messages that are designed in light of how the human mind works are more likely to lead to meaningful learning than those that are not” (p.41).

2.2.1 Information Processing

A person's capability to process information is an intricate process that needs to be enlightened in order to fully understand how to apply teaching methods. In fact, it is a multi-step process which involves the following things: perception, attention, selection, organization and integration of information (Sweller, 2003). Amidst all these processes lie what is so called long term memory. It is basically the information that is stored in one's brain for a long period, and where knowledge is accumulated and stored. This accumulated knowledge in turn, is organized in to bits of data that is termed as schema. Schema permits efficient information organization and aids integration of newer, added information (Chi, Glaser & Rees, 1982)

It is significant that the long-term memory is acknowledged for it is where habits, social behavior and general know-how is stored and where newly learned information is integrated. Therefore, if information is hindered going to the long term, it is typically lost and cannot be integrated. Consequently, one can derive that learning is actually a change, a delta in the long-term memory.

While it is nature for information to be integrated into long term memory, it must be received and processed by what is called the working memory. It is a very important facet in information processing, but the key issue in terms of this is that it is very limited. It can actually only take care of small bits of data initially before it can be sent to long term memory. A great understanding of how working memory processes information was revealed by Miller in 1956 where he implied that people can only process about seven pieces of information one at a time. This is not the only alarming part to this, as working memory can only keep information for about 20 seconds, so people must do it quickly.

2.2.2. Multiple Channels for Learning

As the process of information integration has been elaborated already, it is likewise important to know the pathways from which a person learns with the use of working memory. A study by Beddeley in 1992 highlighted an auditory and visual channel that comprise information processing pathways. Getting it from its namesake, auditory channel handles information that is heard while the visual handles what is seen. Although not a channel entirely, textual is also a way to digest information. Yet, many studies suggest that texts have a distinct processing requirement, which entails utilizing visual channel where words are seen, and eventually converted to sounds in the auditory channel.

Many studies in the processes for learning suggest that the visual channel requires less information than the other channel (Miler, 2005). But the outstanding finding among all of this is that when both channels are integrated, working memory’s problem of functionality is addressed. Simply put, working memory can handle more information when the visual and the audial are applied. This is where multimedia platforms come into play.

2.2.3. Learning through Multimedia

The Dual-channel, Limited capacity and Active processing are Mayer’s assumptions of a cognitive theory of multimedia learning. This research project is mainly concerned with the dual-channel assumption, which is based on people having two separate information processing channels: one for visual represented materials and the other for auditory represented materials.

The Dual-channel assumption provides for two separate information processing channels: auditory/verbal channel and the visual/pictorial channel. When presenting instructional materials to the learner it is better to take advantage of both channels, auditory and visual as opposed to a single channel. This principle is particularly important for learners with auditory impairment and a greater reliance on their visual processing channel. It is worth noting that Mayer’s model was developed for typically developing children and does not try to account for children with special needs. As such, these ideas need to be tested for their suitability to children with special education needs such as autism and Down’s syndrome where there is a greater need to reduce processing in the auditory channel.

Cognitive load is the total amount of mental activity imposed on working our memory at an instance in time (Sweller and Chandler, 1991). Sweller and Chandler’s theory of cognitive load suggests that effective instructional material facilitates learning by directing cognitive resources toward activities that are relevant to learning rather than toward preliminaries to learning (Paas et al, 2003).

Therefore, when ineffective designs of instructional materials are presented to the learner this can cause unnecessary cognitive load on their working memory that can prevent learning. Controlling cognitive load is highly significant when dealing with children with autism or Down’s syndrome since they tend to have different visual and auditory balance compared to typically developing children. When designing multimedia messages for special needs children, complicated or irrelevant information has to be reduced even further and more so than for typically developing learners.

2.3 Autism and Technology

Autism has been around for the best part of the century and has been acknowledged by medical science as one of the most prominent disabilities as it impairs a person’s speech, learning capacity and overall behavior. Also called as Down’s Syndrome, this genetic disorder inflicts 1 out of 68 of the worldwide population according from reports of Center for Disease Control ( Categorized as a genetic disorder, it has no cure and thus treatment and maintenance is the primary option. For this reason, many special education specialists and psychologists alike have delved in providing Persons With Autism (PWA’s) with a special curriculum in which they can learn how to respond, behave and act.

2.3.1 Applied Behavior Analysis

One of the mostly established approaches in helping PWA’s is the Applied Behavior Analysis. In general terms, it is a systematic method that helps evaluate behavior, and the corresponding interventions that is necessary to intercede the alteration of proper behavior. (Educating Students with Autism, 2012). ABA should not be confused as a specific approach, but a general approach in which the primary factors are environment and expectation of the skill of the PWA. In this kind of approach, teachers, mental health professionals or parents are to encourage certain responses from the PWA.

The goal of the ABA style is to increase positive responses from children, at the same time decrease the frequency of negative responses. This behavioral approach is adjustable because it depends on the shown behavior of the child, in which proper modifications can be done for emphasis. Furthermore, it puts highlight on having the child develop his own ideas and to influence social linkages among other people in the environment. There are many subsequent modifications of this technique which will be elaborated in this chapter as well.

2.3.2 Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT)

A type of ABA style approach, Discrete Trial Teaching accentuates skills and behaviors as part of an established curriculum. In this kind of teaching, each mastered skill is considered a milestone, which is initially broken down to small steps. Using prompts as a tool for response, each small step is achieved with the milestone being the final goal. After each milestone, another set of small steps is introduced for another, more elaborate skill.

The PWA’s are encouraged to have a positive response to prompts by using positive reinforcement that may include rewards, words of praise or something that will continue to motivate the student. This is one of the most efficient approaches since students are likely to respond positively when given rewards. In addition to that, simplified steps prove to be easier to respond to, discretely leading to a development of a certain discipline.

A more distinct advantage of DTT was elaborated by Tristram Smith in his study. Firstly, each trial is short therefore many teaching trials can be completed allowing for numerous learning opportunities. Secondly, the DTT method of one-to-one teaching allows for the program to be completely individualized for the needs of each child. Thirdly, the “procedural” format of a discrete trial creates clarity for the child. There is a clear beginning and end to each trial with prompts and antecedents kept simple and at an appropriate level. By breaking down tasks into short manageable trials and using suitable prompts and guidance ‘DTT maximizes children’s success and minimizes their failures’. (Smith, 2001)

2.3.3 Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

The nature of the Picture Exchange Communication System lies on its namesake. This type of technique was found to be most effective to children with little or no verbal ability. What this approach implements is the communication of parent to child using graphics. The professional or parent can now be able to help students to build their vocabulary and say using these complementary materials. When the PWA is subjected to pictures for a certain amount of time, the child learns how to distinguish the pictures separately, and eventually articulate what he or she wants, agree or disagree and show emotion through verbally.

The Delaware Autistic Program in the USA developed the system in which children and their corresponding parent or professional initiate communication skills by using objects and picture symbols. The PECS teaching protocol is grounded on B.F. Skinner’s book, Verbal Behavior, such that functional verbal operants are systematically taught using prompting and reinforcement strategies that will lead to independent communication. Verbal prompts are not used, thus building immediate initiation and avoiding prompt dependency.

The system has six main stages and is considered cost effective to use. The first phase of the program intends to have student exchange single pictures for the things they so desire. In that way, they are prompted to do it on their own and are encouraged to do it over and over. The second phase applies the pictures to a different setup and different people. This allows the PWA to develop persistency in communication as well as the confidence to step out of their comfort zone. The third phase shakes up the number to two or more pictures so as to expand their ability to link two or more things together. This is also called the Picture Discrimination Phase.

Processes are more complex from then on. Phase IV prompts the PWA to have sentence structure by combining pictures, while phase V would have them ask questions in turn. Finally, the last phase allows the child to comment on certain things as a response to a question.

2.3.4 Training and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)

Another program that was introduced in the USA, North Carolina in the 1960s is Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), which is a structured teaching program that can help arrange the child’s environment, by providing clear, concrete and meaningful visual information.

In other words, it is a process designed to capitalize on the relative strength and preference for processing information visually in individuals with autism, while taking into account the recognized difficulties. Individualized assessment and planning is used to create a highly structured environment (organized with visual supports) to help the individual map out activities and work independently.


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Development of an Interactive Game Employing Social Learning Skills Based on the Needs of Special Children of DSWD Amor Village
B.S. Multimedia Arts and Sciences
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development, amor, dswd, children, special, needs, based, skills, learning, social, employing, game, interactive, village
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Roland Paulo Domingo (Author), 2020, Development of an Interactive Game Employing Social Learning Skills Based on the Needs of Special Children of DSWD Amor Village, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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