"Authoring" Your Way to Student Engagement

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session HBCU

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

At our small university, we create multifaceted interactive activities that take ideas and turn them into rich, authentic, learning opportunities of various sizes for students on any platform, anytime, anywhere. Join us to see how you can reach students through auto-assessed gamification that leads to the achievement of course learning objectives.


Harriet Thompson, PhD is the Associate Provost of Curriculum and Assessment Outcomes at Herzing University where she leads the initiatives related to curriculum and assessment outcomes. Dr. Thompson brings together more than 25 years of multifaceted experiences in the field of education, business, and healthcare, to the exploration and development of curricular content that leads to demonstrated student success. Dr. Thompson has experience working in higher education with publishers, digital assets, assessment development, rubric design, quality measures, learning management systems, data collection, faculty, staff, and leadership in both not-for-profits, and for-profit organizations and universities. Dr. Thompson holds a Ph.D. in Education Leadership, ABD in Healthcare Administration, MS in Clinical Psychology, MS in Education, MS in Special Education, MEd in Technology and Learning, MBA in Business Management, BS in Education, and multiple certifications. Dr. Thompson believes that through education we have the opportunity to change people’s lives and improve communities. Education is a vehicle through which individuals can change their own circumstances and the lives of others that they come in contact with as a result of their educational experience and knowledge application. To this end, she believes that when everyone is working together with the single vision of student success through concrete efforts, substantive changes can be achieved in the academic process of educating.
Diane Neal, PhD is a Learning Design Specialist at Herzing University where she works with subject matter experts to create rich educational experiences for traditional and non-traditional college students. Dr. Neal’s extensive experiences as student, university faculty, and instructional designer in traditional, online, and blended settings provides her with a unique perspective that she leverages as a learning design specialist. Over the years, Dr. Neal has developed mastery with various learning management systems, image and video creation applications, and innovative design tools. Dr. Neal has used this mastery to develop courses in multiple disciplines for use at the undergraduate and graduate level. Dr. Neal holds a Ph.D. in Biostatistics and Epidemiology, MS in Instructional Design and Technology, BA in Biology, an AD in Nursing, and is a currently licensed RN. Dr. Neal believes that education should be a lifelong journey of exploration and experience. She believes that educational experience comes to life when students are engaged and provided with the tools they need to succeed. In her work with faculty, she emphasizes the importance of interactive content and authentic assessment.
Michelle Pittman is a Learning Design Specialist at Herzing University where she collaborates with subject matter experts to create interactive, engaging experiences for learners. Her experience in higher education and K-12 coupled with her graphic design and web design skills has shaped her course design into rich engaging authentic experiences for all learners. Her work in education is inspired by the following quote “Education is a continual process, it’s like a bicycle… If you don’t pedal you don’t go forward.” -George Weah. It is time to drive authoring tools to create interactive experiences for learners to grab their attention and be successful in their courses. Michelle holds a master’s degree in Learning Design and Theory, master’s degree in Technology, and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Graphics Technology from Purdue University.
Jeff Fiske has been effectively empowering partners and development teams in the creation of strategy games and simulations for over 20 years.

Extended Abstract

A course without engagement is like a car without an engine. According to the Glossary of Education Reform, student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to progress in their education. We all know that engagement drives learning and recent studies share that there are connections between non-cognitive skills such as motivation, interest, curiosity, attitude and work habits and cognitive learning results. Students need some non-cognitive jumper cables in order to start their learning engines going in the right direction.   Let us show you how to turbocharge your students’ engines using the tools from our toolbox. Learn how we used limited course development resources to provide our faculty the parts they need to create a student-first approach, provide individual attention, and develop a caring learning community that sets us apart from other colleges and universities.

You don’t have to be a big university or school to create original role-playing or other game-based learning activities. We have the tools to build and create a library of game-based learning activities that scaffold students across the curriculum, creating impactful experiential learning. We create the content, we own the content, and we control the content. We develop a toolbox for students that creates an opportunity for students to engage with content, rehearse content, and retain content that is applied throughout the course to assess student learning.

We will quickly debunk the myths that exist regarding gamification and student engagement such as the size of the school, the size of the budget, the required skills, the need to have a dedicated development or multimedia team, lack of control or ownership of the process, and high costs related to unusable outcomes. Learning engagement research helped us to see the need for a bigger design toolbox. We will share the tools that we use and our ever-growing toolbox designed to improve student learning and achievement of outcomes. Come find out where we started, the challenges we faced, the feedback we received, what we did right as well as what we did wrong, and where we are today.

Through audience engagement and basic instruction, we will walk through how to take a bite-sized idea and turn it into a multifaceted activity that will engage your students. We will share the contents of our toolbox so that you too can provide your students with learning opportunities that will not only engage their minds but will provide immediate student feedback. These tools are useful for assessing knowledge, through associated discussions and activities, and to quickly and easily assess outcomes that provide student scores as well as detailed feedback to faculty on student engagement and progress.

We will demonstrate and engage you in learning how you can employ the same strategies no matter your university or design team size. Join us to see a live demonstration of how you can quickly and easily add engagement activities to your course. This will be not only an opportunity to learn about the tools but an opportunity to engage in the design and implementation process.  Join the team and learn how to grow your toolbox!

Level of Participation: The session is designed to provide background and education about the tools that can be used for game-based learning to increase student engagement. The presentation is structured to be audience interactive with the speakers and with the software. We will provide a background and some basic education on student engagement and the positive aspects of game-based learning, followed by a quick build of an activity with audience participation. Then audience members will utilize phones to engage with the activity. Following the activity, we will share the feedback that faculty receive the following student engagement to provide support for students.

Session Goals/Takeaways: The audience will be able to identify the benefits of game-based learning on student outcomes. The audience will be able to interact with a game based learning technology. The audience will recognize that gamification can be done by anyone, anywhere, at any time. The audience will be able to relate their experience in course design, development, and administration to the experience of the presenters, no matter the size of their school or university.