STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE! What do we want? Gamification in Blended Learning! When do we want it? Now!

Concurrent Session 3
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

It’s 1913. STRIKE has been declared for safe factory conditions. Can your faction win the game? Will you survive? Attend this gamified session to experience why blended students are addicted to this multi-disciplinary game that demands analysis, evaluation and creativity. Explore online gameplay, collaboration tools and adaptations for YOUR classes! 


Claire Sparklin began her educational career as an Instructional Designer creating online learning for Ford and automotive supplier Visteon. Transitioning to the college instruction in 2001, she integrated her passion for technology, innovation and engagement into the Communication classroom. Using a blend of gamification, active learning and reflection to connect theory to experience, Claire designed curriculum for both on-campus, online and blended classes at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After completing course review certification, Claire served as online and blended course reviewer and Chair of the Online Learning Committee at her campus. Claire is committed to using Open Educational Resources (OER) in all her online and on-campus classes. She's compiled her own OER textbooks and interactive teaching ancillaries when none were available in her subject. Additionally, Claire employs experiential learning for real-world Communication solutions in her classes to build her students' resumes and college transfer applications. Always looking forward to the next adventure, Claire is currently working with a Chinese university doing an online course exchange!

Extended Abstract


Experience Reacting to the Past (RTTP), an adaptive game-based pedagogy suitable for a wide range of disciplines and assignments both in an online and on-campus environment. Reacting games are robust and suitable for a wide range of disciplines and assignments. RTTP uses higher-order thinking for a gamified, blended classroom which includes a variety of complex games to explore History, English, Science, Communication and more. Pioneered by Barnard historian Mark C. Carnes, Reacting to the Past was honored with the Theodore Hesburgh Award (TIAA-CREF) for outstanding innovation in higher education. Reacting games have been linked to increased student engagement, completion and retention (See References). When combined with a Blended Classroom, students agree, "Reacting games make class addictive!"

Session Format (45 minutes):

  • 10 Minutes - Game set-up, synchronous on-campus vs. asynchronous online division of activities, use in variety of disciplines, research handout and character roles assigned.

  • 25 Minutes - Highly interactive gameplay: Unions fight for safe work environments, no child labor, equality, safety and reduced technology threats. Factory Owners plot to overthrow unions. Out-of-town celebrities amp up the drama. Townspeople choose sides and just hope to survive! Bonus points for Tweets with #OLC #ACCELERATE2019 #RTTP hashtags. 

  • 10 Minutes - Game resolution. We'll explore common questions about how to use Reacting to the Past games with collaboration tools such as Slack, Voice Thread, assignment options, Open Educational Resources, adapting to a variety of disciplines, tips, tricks and challenges.

Session Goals: Individuals attending this gamified session will be able to explain the experience of higher-order thinking, gamified role play games in blended settings. They will be able to discuss the benefits of gamification in a blended setting including increased engagement, completion and retention. They will navigate the gamified classroom in the role of a student while theorizing multiple uses for role play games in online environments.

In this session, you will travel back in time to the year 1913 in a thriving industrial town known as America's Silk City. Large silk factories dot the landscape and provide income for the residents of Paterson. Unfortunately, this is not a peaceful time in Paterson's history. Working conditions in the factories are unsafe and unfair, but the factory owners refuse to cut into their profits. Advances in technology threaten to decimate job opportunities. Just as tensions rise in the city, famous union speakers and the media flood into Paterson revealing corruption that threatens to destroy the lives of every citizen. Can the citizens of Paterson be saved? Will your character survive to the end of the game? Can your faction win the game? Join this session to find out!

There are a total of 36 unique characters available for direct game play and unlimited gamified observers with a competition of their own to play. This session can be played with as little as 6 attendees as well. 

Level of Participation: Attendees will receive a character role sheet and objectives for the game session. Characters then, interact with each other trying to achieve their objectives and SURVIVE. Characters will investigate one another, weigh their options, argue for their goals, assemble supporters, formulate plans, negotiate solutions and develop their plan of attack. Depending on how the characters play the game, there can be domination by factory owners, socialists, anarchists, unions or townspeople. The mayor might be killed, the police chief might take bribes, people might starve. You just never know what’s going to happen! Observers, those without roles, meanwhile will compete to fulfill their obligations - vote for best character, sway a negotiation, make a sign promoting unions, socialism, anarchy or a factory, etc.  

For more information about Reacting to the Past pedagogy, visit


Buchanan, Thomas C. and Edward Palmer. "Role immersion in a history course: Online versus face-to-face in Reacting to the Past", Computers & Education, Vol 108 (May 2018), pp 85-95.

Burney, John, Richard Gid Powers, and Mark Carnes. "Reacting to the Past: A New Approach to Student Engagement and to Enhancing General Education." White Paper Report submitted to the Teagle Foundation, 2010.

Carnes, Mark. “Inciting Speech,” Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning 37, no. 2 (March/April 2005): 6-11. 

Higbee, Mark D. "How Reacting to the Past Games 'Made Me Want to Come to Class and Learn': An Assessment of the Reacting Pedagogy." In Jeffrey L. Bernstein, ed., Making Learning Visible: The Scholarship of Learning at EMU. Ypsilanti, MI: Eastern Michigan University, 2008. 

Lazrus, P. K.  and G. K. McKay, "The Reacting to the Past Pedagogy and Engaging the First Year Student",  in J. E. Groccia (Ed.), L. Cruz (assoc. Ed.) To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development. Colorado: POD (Professional and Organizational Development network). San Francisco: Jossey Bass 2013, pp 315-416. 

Lightcap, Tracy. "Creating Political Order: Maintaining Student Engagement through Reacting to the Past." PS: Political Science and Politics (2009), 42: 175-179.

Olwell, Russell and Azibo Stevens. "'I had to double check my thoughts': How the Reacting to the Past Methodology Impacts First-Year College Student Engagement, Retention, and Historical Thinking" in The History Teacher 48, No. 3 (May 2015), pp 561-572.

Porter, Adam."Role-Playing and Religion: Using Games to Educate Millenials." Teaching Theology & Religion 11, No. 4. (2008), 230-235.

Stroessner, Steven J., Laurie Susser Beckerman, and Alexis Whittaker. "All the World’s a Stage? Consequences of a Role-Playing Pedagogy on Psychological Factors and Writing and Rhetorical Skill in College Undergraduates."Journal of Educational Psychology 101 (2009), 605–620.​

Weidenfeld, Matthew C. and Kenneth E. Fernandez. "Does Reacting to the Past Increase Student Engagement? An Empirical Evaluation of the Use of Historical Simulations" in Teaching Political Theory, Journal of Political Science Education (May 2016), DOI: 10.1080/15512169.2016.1175948.