Cross-Institutional Professional Development: How to Use Gamification and Hybrid Modalities to Build a Learning Community

Concurrent Session 3 & 4 (combined)
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Using a hybrid framework, we redesigned a successful gamified learning community to include cohorts from schools across the country. As each cohort explored the issues relevant to their school’s online learning initiatives, new insights emerged from the collective discussion. Attendees will examine both the model’s design and participants’ findings.

Sponsored By


Keegan Long-Wheeler is an educational technologist in the Office of Digital Learning at the University of Oklahoma. Keegan uses his background in science, pedagogy, and technology to provide instructors with holistic solutions to their instructional and technological needs. Additionally, Keegan passionately creates open source professional development curriculum to engage faculty in digital literacy, experiential learning, game design, coding, and more! In particular, Keegan loves working with Domain of One's Own projects and his open professional development programs: GOBLIN, eXperience Play, WebFest, Canvas Camp, and more!
Pronouns: she, her, hers Twitter: @MaddieShellgren As the Director of Online Engagement, Madeline (Maddie) Shellgren serves as the lead innovator, designer, and project manager of the OLC's portfolio of online engagement opportunities. Known for her love of storytelling, play, and all things gameful, Maddie thrives on facilitating and designing meaningful ways for people to connect, learn, and grow together. Within the OLC, she has served on steering and operations committees for several of the organization’s conferences (including as Technology Test Kitchen and Innovation Studio lead, as well as Engagement Co-Chair) and has had the distinct honor of being the mastermind behind the OLC Escape Rooms. She looks forward to continuing supporting OLC community building efforts, is committed to sustainable, equitable, and anti-oppressive ecologies within education, and is genuinely excited to leverage her interdisciplinary scholarly and professional backgrounds as she helps lead the OLC towards truly innovative and transformative models for what’s possible for online and digital engagement. Maddie joins the OLC from Michigan State University (MSU), where she has served as the lead on numerous student success initiatives related to instructional design and technology, accessibility, and equity and inclusion. Over the past eleven years, Maddie has dedicated her professional life to teaching and learning related initiatives and has strategically sought out opportunities that give her a multi-dimensional perspective on teaching and learning, including working as a Standardized Patient training medical students, serving as Program Director for Teaching Assistant development, taking lead on a number of cross-institutional educator onboarding and professional development projects, and teaching across online and face-to-face contexts. She most recently worked as an Assistant Rowing Coach for the MSU Varsity Women’s Rowing Program. There she was given the opportunity to help redesign a community from the bottom up, story the team's new journey together in fun and multimodal ways, lead in the co-construction of community expectations and norms, help ensure alignment across a variety of stakeholders and initiatives, and develop and operationalize strategic structures for long-term sustainability (such as entirely new social media, marketing, communications, and content management strategies). She had the privilege of seeing the impact of her human-centered and equity-oriented approach each and every day as the team reimagined what it meant to be a Spartan on the MSU Rowing Team. With her move to the OLC, she will continue on as a volunteer coach, still supporting these efforts and the team, and is excited to get back on the water.

Additional Authors

John Stewart is the Assistant Director of Digital Learning for the OU Center for Teaching Excellence. John is interested in developing learning environments to promote digital literacy and opportunities for undergraduate research. Before joining the center, John lectured on history of science at the University of Oklahoma and Missouri University of Science and Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in the History of Science from the University of Oklahoma.

Extended Abstract

Communications have been glitching for years now. Even though we have made huge breakthroughs in our understanding of the digital world, our ability to share those insights has sputtered. Our experts think they have identified a key piece of the problem, but there is still a lot of work to do. Frankly, we need your expertise and unique experience if we’re ever going to fix this mess. Join us to learn about how you can save the galaxy by becoming a captain in Goblin Corp’s fleet of brand new starships.

In this briefing, you will learn about our gamified professional development system. We will demonstrate how storytelling and experiential learning models can help your crew develop strategies to critically explore issues in online learning that you will encounter in your adventures. As captain of your own OLC i20 starship, you will experience an unconventional model of professional development and be able to customize it for your crew. We will share insights developed in our most recent missions and work as a group to anticipate and prepare for future adventures.

Participants in this workshop will:

  • Learn how to fly a spaceship
  • Participate in a mission to fix a communications satellite
  • Draw on their game experience and personal knowledge to identify both the affordances and challenges in online learning
  • Examine the insights collected by the Spring 2020 GOBLIN community 
  • Iteratively redesign our model for their own educational communities 
  • Explore the transformation of professional development from passive consumption models to active, gameful models and from single-institution settings to cross-institutional collaborations.

As suggested in the description above, this workshop will itself be gamified. Participants will play through the first module of our professional development community’s game. They will then discuss the online learning issues raised by the game, before taking a step back to examine the experiential model of the learning community. This experience will allow participants to better understand both the affordances and limitations of the gameful model.

Having participated in the learning community, attendees will be encouraged to think about how our model could be applied to their home institutions. One of the unique elements in the design of this learning community is the hybrid, federated community structure. Each participating school is encouraged to form a group of 5-10 participants with an on-site facilitator. If more than 10 people want to participate, the school could form two smaller groups. If there are not enough participants at a school or no one is comfortable facilitating the PD, participants can join on of the online groups through Zoom.

In addition to these Zoom gaming sessions, the game materials, discussion prompts, support materials for facilitators, and community interaction elements are all supported through a website, This digital scaffolding affords the opportunity to support the vital in-person interactions of a traditional learning community, while also collecting the emergent insights of the community as a whole. While each group can focus on the issues particular to their campus, as a collective we are able to examine online learning across different kinds of institutions, student demographics, and stake-holders. We have actively recruited not only faculty but also librarians, instructional designers, educational technologists, administrators, graduate students, and undergraduates to participate in the learning community. In designing for a broad and inclusive learning community, we seek to extend both the learning opportunities and the power to shape our online learning policy to the widest possible constituency.

We have developed both the game materials and facilitation materials for the learning community in as open and reproducible a way as we could. Central to the design of this community was the idea that anyone could join the community or take and adapt what we have built. This presentation thus also serves as an experiential session in Open Educational Resource Professional Development (OER PD).