Gaming the Online Course - Bringing Game Design Principles to Online Course Design

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Online courses can be greatly improved through the application of game design principles. This session will review four game design principle categories - innovation, creation, balancing, and troubleshooting - and show how to apply principles from these categories to the online classroom.


Dr. Tom Sewell is the Dean for Technical Education at Walters State Community College in Morristown, Tennessee. He has served as the dean since 2006, and has been the acting Department Head of Computer Science since 2011. He has designed and taught courses in mobile programming, wireless connectivity, app development, and computer programming, and has experience with online courses in career and technical education programs at the college, as well as with online courses through TN eCampus, a statewide online collaborative.

Extended Abstract

The design of online courses requires a different approach to content, presentation, evaluation, feedback, and reinforcement – one that can be greatly improved through the application of game design principles. This session will review 4 categories of game design principles – innovation, creation, balancing, and troubleshooting – and demonstrate how to integrate components of these principles into an online course. Online courses are not created in the same way that games are, and this omits many of the components that draw students to games – multisensory approaches, continuous feedback, clear goals and objectives, roleplaying opportunities, and a sense of completion are but a few. This session will look at three different community college courses – an English Composition course, a Computer Applications course, and a Business course – and apply specific principles of game design to the online version of these courses. The participants will work in small groups to identify the overarching components of each class that can be changed to create a more interactive, engaging course that achieves the original student learning outcomes while enhancing the learning experience for both students and faculty. The session will conclude with a review of each group’s findings and suggestions, and a compilation of these on the blog. The participants will work with slides of the current online courses and handouts describing game design principles to create new versions of the online class that draw students into the learning experience. The goals of the session are to: • Identify online course design and game design principles, and determine similarities and differences. • Define those elements that make games immersive and engaging. • Develop strategies to implement game design principles into online courses. • Begin a dialogue about the integration of online course and game design principles through a blog specifically designed for this session. The slides and handouts will be posted on the conference web site and will be available through the blog for continued discussion, debate, and enhancement afterward. The target audience will be higher education and industry training, and the audience level will be for all interested participants.