2020 Innovation in TEL Awards Showcase

ACODE 2020 TEL Awards Showcase banner

The ACODE TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) Showcase is an extension of the ACODE Innovation in TEL Awards, and provides the opportunity for ACODE Member nominees to articulate and disseminate in-practice innovation within the Australasian Higher Education Sector. 

2020 Winner - Western Sydney University

Congratulations to Western Sydney University for implementation of their innovative referencing skills interactive.


Ref Quest screen shot

A partnership pedagogy project between Learning Futures and The Library resulted in a highly interactive online game called RefQuest. 

RefQuest provides an active learning experience for students by:

· Encouraging the player to learn by doing.

· Providing the player with customised, responsive and rapid feedback.

· Encouraging thoughtful planning and decision making.

· Demanding the player learns in order to succeed, because if they don’t learn they can’t progress to the next level.

· Mapping success and failure directly to the player’s actions and these are represented in the game.

· Giving the player positive feedback and rewards for progression.

· Offering consequences for failure combined with constructive feedback and correction. These are not abstract or hypothetical; they are represented in the game.

· Investing their ego and self-image into a character and experience players can identify with.

· Creating an engaging narrative and fun experience that provides the player a scenario that generates emotional responses and enjoyment.

RefQuest was developed in iterative loops involving students and tutors from various disciplines and graduate levels. A pilot of 300 students provided feedback on RefQuest to refine the game-experience and review the quantity and type of formative feedback received by students as they progress through the levels. Student completion time of all levels was approximately 20 minutes and feedback from students, tutors and library staff has been positive.

Academic feedback:

· They (students) really enjoyed it - they were engaged and commented that they achieved their learning outcomes

· During my second tutorial there was a fair bit of student competition to see who could get to the boss the quickest

· I just sat in on a first year business class that used the refquest game in the last fifteen minutes. I spoke to students and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. The timed element is very effective, and the monsters and the objectives of the game very clear. All levels are quite intuitive, and the boss level was particularly challenging. Some students were using the game screens as their guide for completing the in-class activities.

Librarian feedback:

· The staff I spoke to were very impressed that you had it working in all styles, particularly AGLC, which is often overlooked because of its complexity.

Student feedback:

Check out this short video about student reactions to playing RefQuest.



Since the pilot, RefQuest usage has increased to 3,500 – largely through word-of-mouth because the development team’s focus after the pilot was on COVID-19 rapid responses to teaching and assessing online.  In the annual University wide teaching showcase in December 2019, 94% of surveyed participants (n=140) reported that RefQuest was instrumental in inspiring academics to consider active learning strategies in their teaching.

RefQuest is not just being used by students at Western but University of South Australia and Melbourne University also promote the interactive learning resource.  Students from the United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam and India have also used RefQuest.

Recently, RefQuest has won the Silver Award in the Higher Education category in the 2020 International Serious Play Awards. These awards honour outstanding commercial and student digital learning experiences used for education or training from around the globe. 

To play RefQuest visit: https://refquest.westernsydney.edu.au/

The Team

The Technology-Enabled Learning Team is part of the Learning Futures portfolio at Western Sydney University. With a team of specialised experts in Learning Science, User Experience, design and application development, the team creates engaging and rewarding learning experiences for students and high quality resources for academics.

Last modified: Saturday, 30 April 2022, 9:56 AM