Gamification as Pedagogy

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Can gamification as pedagogy be the new norm? When properly designed, gamification as pedagogy can promote learning and deepen student understanding. It can empower students to be more collaborative, engaging and imaginative. Additionally, gamification can support diverse learning styles through the inclusion of principles of good design and pedagogy.​


Dr. Ramiro de la Rosa is the Associate Director for Research Innovation in Distance Education at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Dr. de la Rosa has 19 years of experience in distance education and regularly presents at national and international conferences on the topic of gamification. Dr. de la Rosa is the winner of the 2019 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Teaching & Learning, and the 2017 Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Distance Learning by the Texas Distance Learning Association. He holds a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies, a Master of Education in instructional technology, and a Bachelor of Business Administration.

Extended Abstract

Keeping students motivated and engaged in an online course is one of the biggest challenges facing education today. One proposed solution is to incorporate gamification into teaching and learning. Gamification is the application of game-like techniques to non-game environments in order to increase motivation, engagement, and learning (Kapp, 2012).  At its simplest form, gamification is a systematic instructional development process (Farber, 2015), which incorporates elements such as points, leaderboards and/or badges and whose primary purpose is to change behavior and develop skills (Burke, 2014). Gamification is about helping students find meaning in the activities they perform and not necessarily about turning education into a game.

Gamifying a course does not have to be an all or nothing design implementation. Educators can incorporate as little as one gamified element or as many as a course can reasonably accommodate. A gamified course does not have to be super high-tech.  As a matter of fact, courses that use good sound pedagogy as strategies for adding gamified elements are more successful than courses where lots of technology was used.

Gamified elements can be incorporated into an online course in various degrees of integration and complexity. 

Low-Tech Gamify

Through the use of pedagogical strategies, educators can easily incorporate low technology gamified elements such as onboarding, tutorials, signposting, narrative, and story.

Low-Medium Gamify

Educators can also amp up the technology by adding social networking and the ability to share knowledge.

Medium-High Gamify

Educators can add student progress and feedback through points, leaderboard, and badges.

High-Tech Gamify

Educators can add challenges that lead students through quests, levels, exploration, and content branching.

The presenter will propose a theoretical analysis of gamification by engaging the audience in a discussion of the use of game elements such as dynamics, mechanics, and components, and offering a process for matching gamification elements to pedagogy. The presenter will also showcase his gamified online course for a Q&A opportunity.

At the end of the session, the attendees will be able to:

- Discuss gamification as a promising new pedagogy for online courses.

- Determine which gamification elements can be incorporated into their online course.

- Examine the proposed process for matching gamification elements such as Badges, Feedback, Onboarding, Progress, Signposting, and Social Discovery to learning management system tools.

- Critic a gamified online course.



Burke, B. (2014). Gamify: How gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things. Brookline: Taylor and Francis.

Farber, M. (2015). Gamify your classroom: A field guide to game-based learning. New York [u.a.]: Lang.

Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: Game-based methods and strategies for training and education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.