Learnux: The ultimate linux board game

Written by Dr Wee Wei Yee, Gavin, School of Science

The growing availability of extremely large datasets requires scientists and analysts to use powerful supercomputers or computer clusters to analyse these data. However, to analyse and handle these large chunks of data, researchers need to be equipped with the knowledge to use the LINUX platform, a common platform used to manage all these high technology gadgets. My research project aims to gamify the learning of basic LINUX command via a board game called Learnux. The different LINUX commands hold their function/s and will be the main learning objective in this gameplay whereas these commands will be used to set up the gameplay.

In recent years, the role of Linux in research is gaining popularity due to the growing availability of extremely large datasets. Big data analysis is not only used in the Science and Technology field but an upcoming star in Economics, Finance and Social Sciences research. In other to analyse these data, Linux serves as the important foundation as these big data cannot be analysed using a normal computer with Window operating system that we used. Many researchers especially non-IT researchers are either not aware of the presence of Linux or lack the knowledge to handle this platform. The role of Linux will continue to expand and many industry experts expect it to become the dominant operating system for some, or most, types of applications. For people studying to become computer professionals, having Linux skills is already highly desirable, and it could, in fact, eventually become virtually mandatory. Moreover, Linux skills are becoming increasingly important for many other fields as well, ranging from business to biotechnology to industrial design.

The Linux command line can be mystifying to these researchers and thus preventing them from further exploring this area. In teaching, students find difficulty in learning Linux as Linux is not equipped with a graphical user interface (unlike Windows) but instead only command lines. Students may lack interest or finding it difficult to understand and remember the Linux command lines. Thus, to facilitate the learning of Linux, one interesting method that can be used as a teaching tool that goes beyond traditional teaching is the usage of games. Learnux is a board game that served as an introduction to students and researchers who are new to the LINUX environment, allowing them to learn and familiar with LINUX command lines without the need for a physical computer while having fun with their peers. Learnux is also targeted as a learning tool and will be able to create a new learning experience in learning LINUX among Monash students and researchers. The versatility and simplicity of this board game app will be the main selling point and it comes with commercialisation potential.

Significance and  Innovation

Learnux is significant as it serves the purpose to enhance the learning and teaching of Linux’s command lines through gamification, catering to non-IT researchers and students. Learnux is going to provide a basic understanding of LINUX commands and allows a novice user to familiar with the usage of each command. Although Learnux is unable to equip users with adequate knowledge to analyse big data, it serves as a stepping stone for users to navigate around the LINUX shell before advancing to complicated tasks of analysing the big data. Learnux can provide similarity with the Linux user-terminal interaction. We believe that the incorporation of games in the learning Linux will provide a user-friendly, fun, interesting and interactive environment for novice users. Finally, Learnux can serve as an educational/ learning tool for students and provide information and knowledge about Linux in an innovative approach. We hope that students can understand and remember Linux command lines better with our proposed approach. The information gathered from this project will be beneficial to set Monash University Malaysia as an innovative education hub in this region. As this is the first-ever board game app that focussed on the Linux platform, we strongly believe in the commercialisation potential for this project.