Gamification in Course Design - Helix Media Library

Gamification in Course
Kenneth Pierce, Vice Provost for Information Technology and CIO
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)
Why Look at Gamification?
Gamification Elements
Comparison: Traditional Course to Gamified Course
The Grading and Feedback System
Progress Monitoring
Implementation Techniques in Blackboard
Course Maintenance
A couple of terms..
The use of game elements
and game design
techniques in non-game
Serious Games
A game designed for a
primary purpose other
than pure entertainment.
Making Hard Life Things Fun
Why Look at
Your New Audience
Trophy Kids
More electronically social
Really Popular Games
Industry Gets it!
The key goal we are trying to achieve is …
Two Types of Motivation
• Intrinsic Motivation
• When a person takes on an activity because of the nature of the activity
• Extrinsic Motivation
• Behavior undertaken in pursuit of some award, recognition, or to avoid a
Gamification Elements
Key Principles
Conflict, Competition, or Cooperation
Reward Structures
Replay or Do Over
PBL’s: The Bread and Butter of Gamification
• Points
• Badges
• Leaderboards
Course Comparisons
The Traditional Course
Read, attend class, take tests
Start with a 100 and take away points for imperfection
Student has very little control over what they learn (No decision making
No competition or motivational factors designed in the course outside of the
Very schedule driven – everyone does pretty much the same thing
No social aspects
Grading is done in bursts (usually)
Assess and move on design
The Gamified Course
Myriad of Learning Sources
Varied Learning Methods outside of tests and homework
Uses gaming elements to deliver part of the experience
Allows students to make more personal learning decisions (more selfdirected)
More student-paced than class-paced
Increased use of social interaction and tools
Grading scheme is based on points earned (cumulative)
Grading is done continually
Your goal is to provide a pathway to mastery for each student
The Reference Course
• For this presentation, I am referencing an existing course:
IS5003 – Introduction to Information Systems
• It is 100% online
• I have been teaching variations of this course for over 5 years.
Navigation Redux
Student Decision-Making
Keeping Students on Track
The Grading System
Near Real-Time Grading
• Requires you to think about different grading options and
• Grading must happen in a timely fashion (immediately if possible)
• Since Students are completing assignments at different times, you
will be grading different assignments all the time.
• Gives the instructor some variability by not having to grade 30 of
the same assignments at one time.
Sample Grading Rubric
The Grading Chart
What students say…
I liked that you had to "earn" points
and I believe the method was fair.
You definitely earn your grade by
the effort that you put in. This was
my first experience with an online
course and it was much better than
I expected.
This course is very good. I was
initially disappointed when I found
out that it would be administered
online, as I previously thought
online courses were a bit watered
down. I quickly learned that was
not the case! I came to find this
course quite rigorous and I will
walk away from the class with an
EXCELLENT knowledge of
Information Systems.
…the leaderboard was entertaining
and helpful. It allowed me to
anonymously compete with my
classmates while, at the same
time, provided me with the
information to assure I was
progressing at the required pace
and not falling behind. This was a
great assistance for my first online
There were at least two uses (and
probably more) that I had for the
leaderboard. The first one was the
obvious one, to keep up with my progress
throughout the course. I utilized the
leaderboard, roadmap and the grading
explanation to make sure that I was least
meeting the minimum every week. This
was very helpful. The second use I had
for the leaderboard was for motivation. I
was a little worried at the beginning of
the course as to whether or not I could
keep up with the rest of the group. The
leaderboard provided me with a goal
each week and to try and stay towards
the top. For myself, it was definitely a
benefit to have.
When I first saw the leaderboard on
the webpage, I didn’t understand
what it was. It was not until I took
a couple of the quizzes and saw my
bar move up that I understood. I
found the tool extremely useful in
gauging where I was at not only in
my grade but also my progress in
the course. I think this would be a
really great tool for other courses
to implement into their blackboard
pages as well.
The leaderboard is a great motivational
tool. I feel that in this kind of setting
where we are very much on our own and
have to maintain our own motivation, the
leaderboard helped to make the
experience fun, competitive, and it also
was helpful reminder of how far you have
to go. I am very competitive, so seeing
others’ progress kicked my own progress
into gear, at least in the beginning. The
competitive effect of the board seemed
to wear off for me probably about
halfway through, but I still found it very
useful as a way to see how far I had come
and how much I had left to accomplish.
And One of the most interesting ones…
• Ahh, yes – the leaderboard. As a quota bearing sales rep on a monthly number, I am too familiar
with the stack racking leaderboard. Every week my leadership drops an email with my month to
date number along with every other reps number in descending order to the whole segment for
all to view. In great months, this is great - In bad months, not so much. So, when I saw the
leaderboard on the blackboard page in the IS class my competitive side said to myself, “well I
definitely don’t want to be at the bottom of this!” while my veteran sales side said “aaaaaawe
man.” In our Datacenter tour you mentioned the use of gaming strategies in education and the
release of modules and the leaderboard were these theories in action and I understood.
However, outside of that context I was wondering what the purpose of the leaderboard happed
to be. Was it there to show me how behind I was or there as a guide for me to set goals to reach
the next level. I felt this display brought both sentiments out of me. While I hated being at the
bottom for the majority of the semester, part of me knew that I would eventually rise through
the ranks as I completed each assignment. That sense of accomplishment and advancement is
awesome and I have never felt that in any class I have ever taken. The leaderboard played to my
competitive side and I have to say I am now curious where I will land at the end of the semester.
I have resided at the bottom and I am now making a late run to rise through the ranks and I have
to say I like the feeling of opening blackboard and seeing that I have passed another classmate
from completing an assignment. This leaderboard will get the best out of your students and I
wholeheartedly agree with its implementation.
The Ongoing Gamified
Extending the Course over time
Due to its design, gamified courses can usually be easily extended
to expand student options, and / or to adjust for changes in the
subject matter
Thinking about the experience
• Since the process of Gamification requires you to think about the
experience of the student a bit differently, your thoughts on
course changes will begin to focus more on the experience.
It is a lot of work!
• It will take some effort to convert a course from traditional
structure to a game-base structure
• It will be very challenging for you to implement the “do over”
aspects of a gamified experience
• Some of the mechanics in Blackboard exist and we have
experience with them.
• Not all courses will lend themselves to this methodology

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