Leap In Time: A Patent game. An interactive game-based learning approach to understanding and decoding patents.
The ability to understand Intellectual Property (IP) as well as learn how to use it commercially is an integral part of Entrepreneurship Education and especially highly relevant for students from STEM disciplines who generally work with technology more than say business students. Understanding IP and especially patents as the dominant form of IP in the Science and Technology context and the ability to decode patents is an essential skill to master. However, IP can be rather cumbersome topic to teach owing to its heavy reliance on legal jargon as well as limited access to information. Furthermore, within the larger Entrepreneurship education context, this has largely remained within the domain of legal experts or patent lawyers from the Tech Transfer Office and past experience has shown that it can be difficult for students to immediately grasp the concepts, let alone apply them. Studies have shown that many scientists (and especially junior faculty) rarely read, and often avoid reading patents or searching patent databases (Donald et. al., 2018). This is because they are seen as long and complex documents and often perceived as by lawyers for lawyers.
This is a problem for the advancement of science and also the speed of science as studies show that over two-thirds of technical information that is disclosed in a medical sub-field does not appear in scientific journals. This is seen in other disciplines as well such as chemistry, engineering and biology too where highly detailed technical information is introduced in patent literature often 3-4 years before being reported in a scientific journal. The Leap-In-Time Patent Game tries to address this issue by lowering the barrier of entry to understanding and decoding patents.
The Game takes an engaging and well known “escape room” format transferred into a multiplayer digital format where teams of players work together to solve puzzles that lead to a better understanding of a patent. The digital game is intentionally designed to be short (45 minutes), to increase the challenge level (and hence engagement) as well as the progressive learning of patent basics, the architecture of a patent document (which one has to assemble together) and the ability to then work-around an existing patent so that they also learn about innovation. Coupled with a pre-game assessment and a post-game debrief, we find that we are able to lower the barrier-to-entry to the world of patents significantly.
The proposed workshop will allow players (be it students or educators or the general public) to try out the game live in diverse teams and after which be taken through what they learnt and if they think patents are now an accessible form of information for most. A couple of experienced educators will drive the post-game discussion.