I’m just about to start term with a gamified course. I’ve been developing this design for a number of years now and thought I’d provide a bit of a journal on what we I am doing and how it’s going.
My department has a tradition of having every instructor fill out a completion report at the end of every term for every section of every course that was taught. It’s a bit of a nuisance, but it has a number of wonderful benefits, some of which are:
- course designs and deliveries are reviewed every year, and can be tweaked to keep them relevant
- sessional instructors (like me) get to provide our input to course design and delivery
- I can go back and look over my own reports to remind myself of what went well, and what I need to change (most of us aren’t very good at this sort of reflection, especially if we don’t teach the course every semester)
This will be my 3rd time teaching this course, and I’ve made a number of changes. It’s a 1st year introduction to computers course, that is in many ways quite typical. We teach them a bit about hardware & software, networks, how to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
On Deadlines, Carrots, and Sticks
The basic design of the course is as I have described in previous posts. In the first iteration I had almost no deadlines at all and I found it hard to convince my students to submit things on a regular basis. Taking a page from the book of “Carrots are better than Sticks”, I decided to offer a few bonus points for submitting certain things by certain dates. Mathematically, it amounts to the same thing as giving late penalties, but bonus sounds so much nicer, doesn’t it? Missing out on an opportunity for a bonus may be disappointing, but not as dispiriting as having points taken away. One is more like a lost opportunity, while the other is punishment.
More and more I’m thinking that with very few exceptions, punishing students is a mistake. I’m not saying they should be able to get away with anything they want – most of my students will probably tell you that they have to work quite hard in my classes.
Somehow, the idea that a student who has managed to maintain an A, let’s say, could lose that by blowing one single test or assignment just seems illogical.
For a variety of reasons, my website for the course is not fully public, but I will provide screenshots of various things when they are appropriate.
If you are interested in following my course journal, watch for the “Gamification 101” heading.
Also, for more information on gamification, check out my website here.