Murder on the Collaboration Express

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Educators, trainers, and instructional designers are often at a loss when group work fails to engage students. Drawing inspiration from ways people naturally interact and learn from each other, the participants will actively discover examples that illustrate game-based and collaborative solutions for online/blended settings in this gamified murder-mystery session.



Hello, I am Rossana Quintana and I am an Instructional Designer at FIU Online. I graduated from Florida International University (FIU) with a B. S. Degree in Elementary Education in 2002 and completed graduate coursework towards an M. S. in Early Childhood Education the same year. I attended Concordia University Online earning my Master of Science in Educational Leadership degree in 2013. Prior to joining FIU Online, I was a teacher for Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 12 years in all grades at the elementary level. For the five most recent years, I was working remotely as a Lead Teacher with Florida Virtual School with high school students. I have been both the E-Learning educator and student. As an Instructional Designer, I partner with professors to create engaging, dynamic and effective fully-online and hybrid courses that provide enriching experiences for students. I support them with sound androgogical strategies, best practices and creative enthusiasm to design and implement quality courses.
Maikel Alendy is currently a senior instructional designer with FIU Online. With degrees from the University of Florida and Florida International University in the fields of neuroscience, cultural anthropology, healthcare, and business; his main research interests and publications are in cardiovascular molecular biology, aging, social media, anthropology, and online pedagogy. Within FIU’s honors college, Maikel teaches the fully-online course Digital Fairytale, merging social movements, disruptive technologies, and business trends with a dash of neuropsychology. He is also the instructor for the hybrid course Power of Play, in which students examine the importance of play throughout their lifetime and partner with Sweetwater Elementary to design games for K-5 students. Maikel currently serves as the online experience consultant for FIU’s Honors College and the CTO for a small digital consulting company based in Miami.
My name is Lisa Boskovic and I'm an Instructional Designer with FIU Online. I graduated from an online Master’s in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of Central Florida. Successfully completing a college program online gives me unique perspective in building courses for distance learners. Prior to joining the FIU family, I taught 8th Grade U.S. History for a Florida charter school. I also worked with adolescents who took Florida Virtual School classes while they were undergoing inpatient medical treatment. I look forward to applying my training and experience to help faculty design effective and engaging online courses. Please contact me with questions or input on how to create exceptional learning experiences.

Extended Abstract

The mystery of effectively implementing collaborative and gamified strategies to enhance online courses can often befuddle educators, trainers, and instructional designers. Our presentation explores the obstacles associated with designing collaborative, gamified learning activities and furnishes examples of its successful utilization in online and blended courses. Ultimately, these interventions result in more meaningful experiences for learners and facilitators.

We will challenge session participants to actively discover new approaches to group work beyond the typical jigsaw puzzle model. Traditionally, in the the jigsaw puzzle model, learners divide a project into isolated portions, work on their portion individually, and then fit the pieces together. Jigsaw puzzles are group efforts, but are not collaborative as the need for interaction between participants is negligible. In contrast, our goal should be to create more effective opportunities for learners to develop dynamic partnerships with their peers.

Research indicates that humans learn more from colleagues than from textbooks, manuals, or instructors. One of the highest levels of cognitive processing occurs when individuals learn something and impart that knowledge to someone else. Collaboration helps learners internalize concepts so they can apply it to their own lives. Learners are attracted to active learning opportunities that feel informal and are enjoyable.

The power of fun is often underestimated. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget felt that play is an essential and innate component of human development. Integrating game elements is an effective way to infuse enthusiasm and a sense of achievement into any learning framework. Game-based activities have been shown to improve learner engagement, enhance motivation, and promote knowledge retention.

There is increasing pressure to design activities in which learners not only engage with content but also learn how to genuinely cooperate with their peers. Many learners have an aversion to group work, complaining of overbearing leaders or teammates who fail to pull their own weight. However, thoughtfully designed peer-to-peer interaction can significantly impact learner engagement, group project results, and overall course satisfaction.

Collaborative and gamified strategies are active social learning experiences that develop critical thinking, problem solving, and other transferable competencies. In collaborative and gamified formats, learners can bounce their ideas off each other, talk through course content, and attain “Aha!” moments together. The benefits of fun collaborative learning include: building rapport among peers, fewer misunderstandings, less conflict, and an increased motivation to work in groups on future projects. Through collaborative work, learners develop critical soft skills such as leadership, cooperation, and professional networking. Students also learn how to critique peers with empathy and how to receive constructive criticism with grace.

This gamified session requires participants to actively uncover examples of collaborative and gamified learning activities through a murder-mystery themed experience. Attendees can take away these innovative examples and implement them in their own courses or trainings (slide presentation will be made available to participants). Session participants will also learn the benefits of collaborative, gamified activities in online and blended courses.

Level of Participation:

This session is framed around an adapted version of a popular murder-mystery board game. Following an introduction, the attendees will receive clues that actively lead them to discovering a collaborative and/or gamified strategy for online/blended courses.  Attendees will be asked to discuss with other group members and respond to the clues via the “Kahoot!” app. The winner of the game will receive a special prize.

Session Goals:

Individuals attending this gamified session will be able to:

  • identify several strategies for collaborative and gamified learning opportunities in online/blended courses and trainings.
  • describe real world examples of collaborative learning in online courses.
  • ​list the benefits of collaborative, gamified activities and the overall impact on learners.