UA design team seeks gaming in classroom

By Grant Morgan, Writer

A webinar called “We’ve Got Game –Strategies for Building Gamification into Your Blended Classroom” was held Friday, Sept. 12 by  Senior Instructional Designer at The University of Akron, Stephen Kaufman and Curriculum Designer, Jill Phipps.

Gamification is a new concept that rewards students for taking part in classroom activities and achieving academically. Gamification was first implemented in businesses, but is spreading to education.

“You go to Starbucks and swipe your card and get achievements, right? You use a card online—you get a badge. You go and save up fuelperks from Giant Eagle; you go to Amazon and you can become a premier reviewer. The business world has already embraced this concept, why can’t education take a cue from their successes?” said Kaufman.

Kaufman and Phipps both believe it can.

Instructors use gamification in the classroom already with points and grading. This system is antiquated to now and days classroom lectures. Modern education needs interaction and communication.

Take, for example, a history lesson proposed by Kaufman:

“You could have Assassin’s Creed without the Assassins. You could walk around these ancient cities and listen to the conversations going on in the streets,” Kaufman said.

But to do this, he says businesses must be convinced that the educational advantages are worth it.

“It’s not turning the course into a game, but it’s using some of the game elements—achievements or badges—in a normal college setting.”

Phipps proposes something different.

“You can use concepts like competition, individual or group, and mastery of knowledge. If I offered bonus points for an exceptional posting in the weekly discussion, the discussion conversation itself becomes much more robust. Everyone is trying to compete for those points,” said Phipps.

The growth of gamification parallels growth in blended classrooms—courses taken solely online, or with students physically present. Some post-secondary courses are just this, with students attending lectures through a webcam.

“I think there will always be a need for traditional classes, but I think that the advent of blended learning is really going to take off in the next few years. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to download your syllabus whenever you want,” Kaufman said. “There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able submit your homework or check your grade online. What we are trying to do [at Akron] is promote the use of Springboard.”

The TLT Group, a non-profit that keeps educators up to date with the capriciousness of technology, hosted the webinar.