INSTRUCTOR SUPPORT FOR GAMIFYING STEM COURSES
Winston Salem State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:In recent years, gamification – the use of game design elements in non-game contexts – has seen rapid adoption. The rising interest in it is reinforced by recent behavioral studies, which reveal that a core set of intrinsic motivators exists in all of us: the desire to improve, to achieve, to direct our own lives and to connect with others. These motivators can be stimulated by the right experience.
Several studies have been published arguing that gamification can be successfully implemented in educational contexts to improve student motivation. However, a main obstacle that instructors face is the lack of educational software that can be used to support course gamification. A recent study examined five popular CMSs - Content Management Systems (Moodle, Blackboard Learn, Edmodo, Schoology and Canvas) for their specific support for gamification. The study shows that although the prevalent CMS’s offer some gamification support they do that at a very shallow level. This causes a significant burden on instructors who want to apply gamification to their courses. To address this problem we are implementing a course gamification platform that supports the use of popular game design principles and mechanisms in the organization of academic courses. The platform is targeting STEM courses that concentrate on skill development rather than memorization.
This poster presents the course gamification platform, which is being implemented as an extension of an online practice and assessment system.
The extension adds the following functionality to the system:
(1) support for the instructors to incorporate game design principles and mechanics to the instructional methods they use in their courses,
(2) automatic creation and checking of instances of dynamic problems, and
(3) learning analytics and visualization to inform students and instructors for the student performance and progress throughout the course.
The main game elements supported by the platform include accruing points (skill points, challenge points, and activity points), badges, levels, leaderboards, virtual currency, unlocking content, immediate feedback, freedom to fail and social engagement. The architecture of the platform allows extending the set of supported game elements.
The focus of this presentation is on the support for the instructors beyond the typical content authoring capabilities. A special attention is given to the configuration, learning analytics, and visualization modules of the gamification platform. The configuration module provides support for the instructor to select and configure the game elements they want to incorporate in the organization of a specific course. The visualization module displays the results of the learning analytics intended to summarize the individual learners’ and class performance, progress and achievements. The aggregated information informs the instructor about all aspects of the student use of the platform thus allowing them to efficiently manage and adjust the instructional process. We believe that efficient support giving instructors flexibility and freedom to choose how to apply gamification to their specific courses is essential for an appropriate and effective use of this promising technology for improving student motivation and engagement in the learning process. Furthermore, our gamification platform can serve as an empirical evaluation of our beliefs.
Keywords: Gamification, course gamification platform, instructor support.