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Playful Design Applications in Digital Education & Training

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Computing and Artificial Intelligence".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 November 2021) | Viewed by 4047

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In an era where education is being disrupted by the pandemic and social distancing, there is a need to accelerate the reconceptualization of digital education and distance learning by emphasizing the profound human experience that learning is transformative and durable when it is appealing, meaningful, and enjoyable.

Integrating game elements into teaching and learning is a proven practice for all fields and levels of education. Playful design is the simplest way to integrate basic game elements or aesthetics into a non-gaming educational context.

How can playful design help stakeholders to enhance digital teaching and learning? What are some innovative applications that effectively integrate playful design into distance education, open education (MOOCs), blended learning and flipped learning?

The goal of this Special Issue is to collect original and high-quality research articles, as well as review papers focused on the theoretical and practical aspects related to playful learning. Exceptional contributions that extend previously published work will also be considered, under the condition that they contribute at least 40% new results. Authors of such submissions will be required to provide a clear indication of the new contributions and explain how this work extends the original contributions. Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Humor;
  • Fun;
  • Experimentation;
  • Creation;
  • Expression;
  • Exploration;
  • Live performance;
  • Narrative;
  • Comic books;
  • Storytelling;
  • Problem-solving;
  • Repetition;
  • Guided practice;
  • Role-play;
  • Make-believe;
  • Theming;
  • Exaggeration;
  • Simulation

Dr. Stylianos Mystakidis
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Applied Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • play
  • playful learning
  • playful design
  • serious play
  • playfulness
  • playification
  • play-based learning
  • creativity
  • creative problem-based learning
  • story-based learning
  • narrative education

Published Papers (1 paper)

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13 pages, 754 KiB  
Playful Metaphors for Narrative-Driven E-Learning
by Stylianos Mystakidis, Giorgos Filippousis, Dimitrios Tolis and Effrosyni Tseregkouni
Appl. Sci. 2021, 11(24), 11682; - 9 Dec 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3092
A team of e-learning specialists was assigned the mission to design and develop seven short e-learning modules for young learners on popular topics with a prime focus on social-emotional learning. However, these courses had to be produced on a limited budget, hosted in [...] Read more.
A team of e-learning specialists was assigned the mission to design and develop seven short e-learning modules for young learners on popular topics with a prime focus on social-emotional learning. However, these courses had to be produced on a limited budget, hosted in a Moodle platform, and be delivered for free in asynchronous only mode. Hence, a playful method of meaningful storyfication was applied in e-learning to captivate attention and spark interest. In each module, a fictional story or metaphorical challenge with playful elements was introduced where learners were invited to assist the story’s protagonists or become the heroes themselves by engaging with content. As the role of teachers is vital for the adoption of technology-based solutions in education, a mixed method evaluation was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the method. Forty-two educators reviewed the courses, answered a questionnaire and participated in interviews. Results indicated that participants highly appreciated the narrative aspects, visual, and auditory elements rendering the e-learning courses effective for the target audience. This article can assist educators, distance education designers and developers to adopt a playful mindset and learn how to integrate practically storytelling elements into their classroom-based and online teaching. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Playful Design Applications in Digital Education & Training)
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