Gamifying e-learning in online learning communities

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This report articulates a strategic approach for integrating the best aspects of game design with online learning communities to create e-learning platforms and environments that amplify engagement and the quality of knowledge construction. The first section of this report will outline the theoretical basis for this approach by summarising concepts underpinning constructivist learning models, online learning communities and gamification. The next section of this report will explain how gamification and online learning communities can be integrated by designing e-learning platforms that create tangible goals with manageable rules; set goals for learners/participants that fit their capabilities; provide clear and timely feedback; and eliminate distractions.

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KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012Gamifying e-learning in online learning communities1KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012IntroductionThisreportarticulatesastrategicapproachforintegratingthebestaspectsofgamedesignwith onlinelearningcommunitiestocreateelearningplatformsandenvironmentsthatamplify engagementandthequalityofknowledgeconstruction.Thefirstsectionofthisreportwilloutline thetheoreticalbasisforthisapproachbysummarisingconceptsunderpinningconstructivist learningmodels,onlinelearningcommunitiesandgamification.Thenextsectionofthisreportwill explainhowgamificationandonlinelearningcommunitiescanbeintegratedbydesigning elearningplatformsthatcreatetangiblegoalswithmanageablerulessetgoalsfor learners/participantsthatfittheircapabilitiesprovideclearandtimelyfeedbackandeliminate distractions.Theoretical backgroundConstructivismOverthepasttwodecades,constructivistmodelsofeducationhavebecomemoreprominentin elearningdesign(Koohangetal2009).Incontrasttoothermodelsthatrelymostlyon knowledgeacquisition,wherebyknowledgeisseenasbeingtransmittedonewayfromteacher tolearner(Sfard1997)constructivistmodelsarelearnercentredandaimtokeeplearners engagedbyenablingtheminbecomingactiveintheprocessofknowledgeconstruction (EgenfeldtNielsen2006Koohangetal2009).ForHonebein,thegoalsofconstructivistmodels aretoexposestudentstomultipleperspectivesembedtheirlearningincontextsthataresocial,2KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012 relevantandrealisticencouragethemtotakeownershipofthelearningprocessandallowthem tobecomeawareoftheirroleintheknowledgeconstructionprocess(1996,inKoohangetal 2009).Online learning communitiesOneofthebestwaysinwhichconstructivistmodelsofelearninghavebeenimplementedisin thedesignofonlinelearningcommunitiesthatutilisetechnologiessuchaswikis,blogsand discussionforums.Thesesortsofelearningimplementationsacknowledgethepowerof collaborativelearningenvironmentstoinformthroughtheaggregationofknowledge(Kilpatricket al2003).TheytakeadvantageofRedmond&Lock'sfourphasesofpracticalinquiryinwhich: learnersarepuzzledorseeaproblem searchforinformationorexplanations aggregatetheirknowledgeinordertodevelopasharedunderstandingand developasolution(2006). Theabilityofallparticipantstointeractwith,publishandtendtothecommunityfacilitatesan environmentwhereinnovativeexplorations,experimentations,andpurposefultinkerings oftenformthebasisofasituatedunderstandingemergingfromactionnotpassivity(Brownand Adler2008,p.14).Itshouldberememberedthatit'snotenoughtojustimplementthetechnology andexpectlearningtotakeplacesuccessfulonlinelearningcommunitiesfoster'anexperience oftogethernessthatextendsthroughtimeandspace'(Wengeretal2005,p.2).Instructional designersshouldbedesigningthesecommunitiessothat'learnersarenewcomersandpotential reformersofthepractice'and'teachersarethepreserversofitscontinuity'(Sfard1997,p.6).3KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012GamificationGamesareanaturalfitforconstructivistlearningmodelsbecausetheyaredesignedtobe deeplyengagingandcollaborative(Johnsonetal2011Prensky2002Sanchez2011).The 2011HorizonReportsuggeststhataspectsofgamesthatmakethemengagingforplayersare replicableforeducativepurposestheseinclude'thefeelingofworkingtowardagoalthe possibilityofattainingspectacularsuccesses[and]theabilitytoproblemsolve,collaboratewith others,andsocialise'(Johnsonetal2011).Whilethereportindicatesthateducationalgames canbedifficulttodesignwell(Johnsonetal2011),thisdoesn'tmeanthatinstructionaldesigners can'ttakethebestelementsofgamedesignandusethemtoscaffoldtheirelearningdesigns. Indeed,Deterdingetaldefinegamificationas'theuseofgamedesignelementsinnongame contexts'(2011,p.2)themostimportantoftheseelementsbeingtheabilityofgamestokeep playersengagedandmotivatedbycreatingasenseofcognitiveflow(Baron2012Prensky 2002Sanchez2011).Greatgamedesignachievescognitiveflowby: providingplayerswithtangiblegoalsandmanageablerules settinggoalsthatarerelevantto(andreflectiveof)players'capabilities deliveringfeedbackthatisclearandtimelyand keepingplayersontrackbyeliminatingdistractions(Baron2012).4KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012'Flow,boredom,andanxietyastheyrelatetotaskdifficultyanduserskilllevel'(Baron2012,p.1).A strategic approach to integrating gamification with online learning communitiesIntegratingthebestelementsofgamedesignintoanonlinelearningcommunitycankickstarta positivefeedbackloopwherebylearnersaremotivated(throughcognitiveflow)toexchange knowledgeinthecommunitywiththeircontributionstothecommunityresultinginaproliferation ofsocialinteractionandongoingimprovementstothequalityofknowledgeinthecommunity thus,motivatinglearnerstobecomeevenmoreactiveinthecommunity.Suggestionsfor achievinggamifiedcognitiveflowinonlinelearningcommunitiesfollow.5KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012Create tangible goals with manageable rulesWithsomequestionandanswer(Q&A)stylelearningcommunities,thesegoalsmightbe selfmanagedasparticipationcouldbedrivenbytheidentificationofaproblemencounteredon thejob,inthefield,etc.EveninestablishedQ&Alearningcommunitiesandcommunitiesof practisecomprisingofexpertsinthefield,thereareatleastestablishednormsandguidelinesto ensurethatcontributionsarerelevantandthatinteractionsarepeaceable.Withotherlearning communities,suchasthosethatareestablishedineducationalinstitutions,learnersmightbe completelynewtoanareaofknowledgeandmightnotevenknowwhichquestionstoaskand howtheycancontribute.Thepresenceofteachersandotherexpertsisessentialinthesetypes ofcommunitiesandtheyshouldbeassigningtasksthatsetlearnersonindividualand collaborativequeststoexploreandconstructknowledge.Theyshouldalsobepresentto answerquestionsandprovideguidancewhenlearnersencountertrouble.Baronstatesthat:Flowbreaksdownwhenaplayerdoesn'tknowwhattheirgoalsare,howthey're expectedtoaccomplishthem,orwhichnewgametechniquesthey'resupposedtouseto solveapuzzle.Whenthishappens,gamersdisengageandaremorelikelytostop playing(p.2).Thesameappliestolearners,buteducatorsshouldn'thavetobearalltheburdenespeciallyat thescaleofmassiveopenonlinecourses(MOOCs).Learningmanagementsystems(LMSs) andotherlearningplatformsshould: bedesignedsothatinterfacescuelearnerstothetask/sathand beawareoflearners'tasksandprogressandonlyprovidenewandimportantinformation andtaskswhenlearnersaren'thighlystimulatedwithothertasksandinformation 6KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012 allowlearnerstoexperimentandtryvariationsofapproachestotasksand allowlearnerstovisualiseahierarchyoftaskssothatit'scleartothemhowsmaller tasksfitintolargergoals. 3DGamelabisagoodexampleofalearningplatformthatimplementsmanyoftheseprinciples.Set goals for learners/participants that fit their capabilitiesManygamesmakeuseofcomputercontrolledenemies/charactersthatdynamicallyadapttothe players'skilllevelsothatplayers'stressandperformancearekeptwithinazoneofoptimal performance(Baron2012).Atpresent,teachers/expertsfillthisroleineducationalcontextsby assigningtasksthattheyfeelareappropriatetothetheirlearners'skilllevelandsome educationalplatforms,suchasCodecademyorTreehouse,enablelearnerstochoose paths/coursesthattheyfeelareappropriatetotheirskilllevel.However,thisisn'tanexact science,soinstructionaldesignersanddevelopersshouldenvisionsystemsthat: arecapableofgaugingstudents'skilllevelsanddynamicallyassigningorsuggesting tasksthatareappropriatetoindividuallearners canautomaticallymatchgroupsoflearnerstogetherincollaborativegroupsbasedon skillleveland/or providelearninganalyticsthatwillallowsystemadministratorstodoso.Provide clear and timely feedbackFeedbackthatisclearandtimelyallowsplayersofgamestomakeconnectionsbetweenactions andoutcomes,allowingthemtounderstandhowtheirprogressonshorttermandlongterm goals(Baron2012).Intermsofconstructivistlearningmodels,similarimplementationsin educativecontextswillletlearnerstakeownershipofthelearningprocessandenablethemto becomeawareoftheirroleintheknowledgeconstructionprocess.Gameshavelongused 7KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012 progressbars,badgesandexperiencepointstohelpplayersintrackingtheiradvancement throughthegame.3DGamelab,Codecademy,TreehouseandStackOverflowareallexamples oflearningsystems/platformsthathaveutilisedtheseaspectsofgamingtodrivemotivation. StackOverflow,inparticular,isinterestingintermsofhowitletsuserstoupvoteothers' contributionstothecommunityearningthemreputationpoints,badges,andinturn,more privilegestocreatecontentinthecommunity.Instructionaldesignersanddevelopersshould takecare,however,thatthesearen'tsimply(ab)usedasbehaviouristrewardsforpositive behaviour(EgenfeldtNielsen2006)theyshouldbeanaccurateandinformativereflectionof learners'outcomesand/orcontributiontothecommunity.Eliminate distractionsAsoutlinedearlier,extraneousinformationshouldbekepttoaminimum,whilenewtasksand informationshouldbereservedfortimeswhenlearnersaren'toverlystimulatedwithother objectivesandinformation.Italsogoeswithoutsayingthatuserinterfacesshouldbedesigned alongbesthumancomputerinteraction(HCI)principlesandshouldnotbeclutteredorreplete withunnecessaryfeatures.Oneoftheissueswithonlinelearningcommunitiesisthatthe quantityofparticipants'contributionscanbeasdetrimentalasitcanbebeneficial.Alarge amountofcontentcanmeanthatusefulinformationgetsburiedbeneathinformationthatmightbe lessuseful.Searchfunctionalityhelpsofcourse,butanovelwayofensuringqualitycanbeto crowdsourcequalitycontroltothecommunityasQuoraandStackOverflowhavedoneby allowingparticipantstoflagthemostusefulanswers.Deterdingetalexplainthatsomeofthe greatestpromisesofgamifiedsystemsistheeaseofaccessto'moreecologicallyvaliduser dataonthedifferentkindsofexperiencesandnaturalcategoriesthatarisefrominteractionwith thesesystems'(2011,p.6).Lookingintothefuture,crowdsourcedqualitycontrolhasthe potentialtobeintegratedwithtechnologiessimilartoGoogle'sKnowledgeGraphthatcan 8KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012 intelligentlyaggregateandindexthemostusefulinformationintoinformativesummariesof existingknowledgefromwhichlearnerscandelvedeepershouldtheywish.ConclusionByleveragingelementsofgamedesignthatmakegamingsointrinsicallymotivatingnamely cognitiveflowinstructionaldesignerscancreatepositivefeedbackloopsthatincrease participationinonlinelearningcommunitiesimprovethequalityofcontributionandboost educationaloutcomesforparticipants.9KeremDaldal|11152776 UniversityofTechnology,Sydney 2012ReferencesBaron,S.2012,Gamasutra,CognitiveFlow:ThePsychologyofGreatGameDesign,San Francisco,viewed11June2012, Brown,J.&Adler,R.2008,MindsonFire:OpenEducation,theLongTail,andLearning2.0, EDUCAUSEReview,vol.43,no.1,pp.119. 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