Abstract: Using technology in teaching and learning finds a wide adoption in recent years. 63.3% of chief academic leaders surveyed by the Babson Survey Research Group confirm that online education is critical to their long-term strategy. Modern engagement pedagogies, such as digital gamification, hold a promise of shaping student experience. While course builders and instructors investigate new technologies and teaching methods questions arise about the instructional quality of academic courses with online content or with gamification elements. In addition, students are not the digital natives many hoped them to be. 83% of millennials report sleeping with their smartphones, but 58% have poor skills in solving problems with technology. This paper reports on a gamefully designed course, delivered in a hybrid modality, which was selected through a peer review process as an exemplary course in consideration of instructional design. The course was evaluated according to the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program rubric. Gamification was introduced in three phases: player onboarding phase, player scaffolding phase, and player endgame. Various technologies involved in the course included: MyGame gamification mobile app, Blackboard Learn, Cengage Skills Assessment Manager, Kahoot, Amazon Alexa, Google Traveler, Twitter, and others. The course focused on gamification according to the short and long game theory to engage students during lectures (short game) and throughout the semester (long game).
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A complex game requires clear instructions. Effective instructional design is a foundation for gamification of academic courses. When applying gamification to academic courses, it is natural to focus on student engagement and intrinsic motivation. However, it is also important to validate the instructional design approaches to maintain high quality of instruction.
The Blackboard Exemplary Course Program allows faculty to incrementally improve the instructional quality of their online or hybrid courses. Faculty receive confidential, quantitative, and qualitative feedback from anonymous reviewers. The course content and evidence of student activity can be resubmitted to the program multiple times for additional feedback.
The design of the course, “Introduction to Computing” at Grand Valley State University demonstrates an application of the short and long game theory for academic courses (Machajewski, 2017d). The use of technology and gamification methods during lectures provides a short-term engagement mechanism. At the same time, long-term methods of XP tracking and XP trading allows for creating a player journey and experience shaping mechanism.
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