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Gamification Gives Course New Appeal

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DET professor Brian Burton has started developing an exciting new program that will infuse class with games.

Gamification is a concept that has gained significant interest in the past couple of years. It is a process where one takes game elements and puts them into a class allowing you to earn badges and achievements. Its purpose is to make courses more interesting, fun, and to encourage more participation by students.

Last spring, Dr. Burton and a group of students developed a gamification website. This website allowed you to log in, enter the project you had completed, and earn badges and achievements as well as a grade for the assignment. For example, you could unlock the “Photoshop” badge and were given a little badge that you could display on your website. This project went very well and is now functioning as an independent website that can be used in conjunction with any class.

Dr. Burton reflects, “We started thinking that it would be a lot better if this was integrated into Canvas or Blackboard or any other learning management systems that we typically use on campus”. This led to the acceptance of a grant from the Adams Center to further develop this program. Over the next year, Dr. Burton along with students Austin Graham and Katey Bluel will work to create a plugin that will allow the gamification of the Canvas website. Users will be able to take this plugin and add it to any class.

Gamification has already proven to be successful in raising student participation. Students will do more things to earn a badge than they would necessarily do just to earn points for a project. Another feature to better increase participation is gamification through peer reviews. Gamification samples were added so students could view other student’s works and comment on them. If you completed ten reviews, you could earn a badge. Before gamification, only one or two people would participate in responses. Afterwards, the majority of the class were reviewing and doing ten peer reviews and giving comments and feedback on other projects. They became much more invested in earning a badge or an achievement, even if there were no points involved.

At this point, Dr. Burton and his team have to figure out one thing: how to make the experience as easy as possible for the user. As for the future of gamification at ACU, Dr. Burton states, “There are a lot of places researching gamification or the implementation of gamification. None of them have been easy to use. Our intention is to create an open source plugin that anyone at any university can take and use for their classes.”

Not only will this new program benefit the school, it will benefit the students. “DET students are creating the next generation of inclusion of gamification and they are creating research that will, hopefully, have a broad impact,” states Burton. “It gives them practice in doing the gamification process. If they work for the corporate office at United or a major bank, many of them are looking into how to incorporate gamification. They will already have the experience doing the gamification and they will be able to apply it in an environment like that.”

Dr. Burton is very excited about this opportunity and looks to have this product fully ready to be used by students by next fall.