Gamification is making a boring process interesting by using fun elements from games. Educators have been using gamification even before there was an official term for it.
Gamification gets people excited like no other strategy does, probably because it holds the promise of fun and engagement, and extraordinary results. Research has shown that using gamification in education can increase learner motivation. Incentives, badges, levels, and a spot on a leaderboard are all motivators to learn. They let learners achieve in the short-term by providing visible goals.
A leaderboard that measures progress can motivate learners at all levels. A leaderboard that measures skill can fail the learners who are at the bottom.
Making Knowledge Public Using Educational Technology is the theme for our 2017-18 FaCTS initiative. We decided to add gamification to our week-long FaCTS summer seminar. Unlike past FaCTS initiatives, there were a lot of assignments that had to be completed before the first day of the summer seminar. Additionally, it was important that homework assignments that were due each night of the summer seminar had to be completed to keep us on track.
We setup a friendly EdTech Mage competition between the FaCTS cohort where they could earn XP for completing assignments. Our hope was that the participants would keep up with their assignments, have fun while doing so, and that the competition would give the cohort some ideas about how they might use gamification in their courses.
Because the XP earned by the participants would change often, we wanted an easy way to keep up with the points and have the cohort see the leaderboard rankings. Also, we were not sure how the participants would feel about having their names on the leaderboard, so we asked participants to provide an alias to use instead.
To set up our EdTech Mage leaderboard, I created a self-ranking leaderboard using a pivot table in a Google spreadsheet by following Mariana Garcia’s YouTube video instructions.
Here’s what our EdTech Mage self-ranking leaderboard looks like:
The cohort was provided the following documents related to earning XP:
- EdTech Mage Ranking System (explains the levels and the points needed to achieve each level)
- EdTech Mage Points (explains the assignments/activities you can earn points for and the number of points the assignment/activity is worth)
You can see the incentives that were given as levels were achieved in the EdTech Mage Ranking System document. If everyone completed their summer seminar preparation assignments they should have earned enough points to reach the Magician level. Therefore, on day one a prize was given to the first person who had reached the Magician level. As the week progressed, a prize was awarded to the first person to reach Sorcerer level. On the last day of the summer seminar a prize was awarded to the top three participants on the leaderboard.
Overall, we received positive feedback from the cohort about adding gamification to the summer seminar. Those of us who organized the summer seminar felt adding gamification helped to motivate the participants to complete their assignments in a timely manner and helped to keep us on track.
Gamification may not suit everyone and may not work for every situation. But for those who can find a use for it, the benefits of gamification can be substantial.
For more information about gamification read my "Why Use Gamification in your Courses?” blog post.
If you are using gamification in your courses or in faculty development, we would love to hear about it. Please leave us a comment and let us know how you are gamifying your courses or your faculty development efforts.