Practical Tips to Integrating Gamified Learning

Concurrent Session 6
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Brief Abstract

Transitioning from gamification theory to applied practice can be difficult. This session will snapshot our experiences in practical first steps.


Passion for Higher Education. Specifically, utilizing cutting edge technologies within Learning Management Systems with the goal of maximizing e-learning student experience. Current responsibilities include the management of a team of Technologists that support Liberty University's Blackboard System, organizing and managing multiple projects vetting and testing academic technologies and the coordination of Course Content loading each term. My team of Technologists have several duties including select system administration responsibilities, infusing technology into online courses, creation of Interactive Presentations, supporting the Faculty and Students via a Help Ticket System, training of the faculty and upgrading/maintaining Blackboard.
Creative, independent, and insightful designer for Liberty University's Center for Curriculum Development (CCD). Specializes in the development of engaging and interactive presentations, applying game-based learning principles, and creating faculty training programs on a variety of curriculum topics. Current responsibilities include storyboarding and creative direction for interactive presentations, management of course content help tickets, ongoing training for All-Access course Subject Matter Experts, mentoring of new instructional designers, and oversight of flagship university 4-Star courses.

Extended Abstract

The transition from discussing gamified learning to applying it in course design can be a complex and uncertain first step toward interactive learning. In short, gamification is exciting, but scary to begin practically applying. This transition is made all the more difficult with the fact that many of the prominent examples of gamification require a large budget, a full course conversion to game systems, extensive technical knowledge, or the ability to outsource the development of materials to another department or company. For many institutions these obstacles make gamified learning impossible to achieve.
With programs like Articulate Storyline and iSpring gamified learning is not only possible, affordable, and attainable, but can be truly interactive and engaging for students while also being simple to implement. Combined with intelligent use of Blackboard features, gamification is well within reach for any course or institution. This session will highlight a number of simple, practical steps any institution can take to build interactive learning materials.

In an effort to increase interactivity in online courses, the decision was made to invest time to research gamification and game-based learning. At the conclusion of the research, it was decided the best method for communicating the content of our research to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) was through an interactive training course on gamification. Using the principles of gamification, the features of Blackboard, and integrating interactive presentations created in Articulate Storyline and iSpring, the course was designed to both display and teach gamification in online learning. Progression, narrative, exploration, mystery, choice, rewards, and a number of other game elements were integrated into the course. Examples of practical application of game elements include the use of adaptive release, opening hints and rewards for participants who excelled in the training, assignments requiring participants to role play, simulation of real-world scenarios in online education, utilizing badges as rewards, and challenges for teams to complete against one another.

In addition to the materials, assignments, and interactive presentations developed for the training course, a 12 step process to apply gamification to online learning was created to give participants a structured outline to follow when considering the use of game elements in their course materials. Using the training course examples, video tutorials, and step-by-step guides, participants were able to use the 12 step process to create a number of proposals for building interactive presentations, gamified assignments, and game-based learning materials.

To supplement the online training course, real-time trainings were provided to course participants to enable SMEs to apply these principles to their own online courses. Biweekly sessions allowed SMEs to ask questions, gain insight from instructional designers and technologists on the topics covered in the training course, and view practical training for utilizing Blackboard features to gamify their courses. Team challenges were carried out and discussed during each training session to build a sense of unity and competition between each group in the course.

Now that the course has concluded, a full analysis of the outcomes of the trainings has been completed, netting a number of insights in SME training, gamification, and the use of game elements in online education. This session will discuss the practical application of gamification to online learning, using the training course and lessons learned as a guide for simple steps to making learning interactive and engaging. In particular, the use of Blackboard features, interactive presentation software, and the principles of gamified design in online learning will be covered in depth, providing actionable steps for all attendees to begin creating interactive online learning materials.

1) Describe the basic principles of gamification and game-based learning.
2) Apply principles of gamified learning specific to online education.
3) Discuss how to practically collaborate SME's, Designers and Technologists to create gamified course elements.
4) Discuss the 12 steps to effective gamification of course content.