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Category Archives: Gamification

2013: My Blog Writing Rookie Year

I’ve never kept a diary or journal before and I’ve never been one to write on a regular basis, let alone make it publicly available on the internet. If you had told me in April (when I posted for the first time) that I would have written 26 posts by the end of the year I probably would have laughed and said “I don’t think I’ve got that much to say”. But, by taking the time to reflect on my experiences and document what I’ve learned along the way, it turned out that I had a bit to say after all.

I’ve found that writing this blog has helped me organise my thinking on a number of different topic areas (motivation, gamification, instructional design, cognitive architecture and PLNs) and the feedback and comments I’ve received have both challenged and consolidated my ideas, so I’m all the better for both. Its also helped me to become a better writer – although I’ve still much to learn.

My top posts for the year based on views are:

  1. Letting go of Learning Styles
  2. Integrating Motivation with Instructional Design
  3. Working with Cognitive Load
  4. Video Games and Motivation
  5. 25 Tips for Successful Online Facilitation

2013

I’d like to thank everyone who has read, commented on or shared any of my posts throughout the year. It means a lot that people have found a post personally useful or thought it was worth sharing with others who may find some value in it.

In trying to improve my writing and also to learn from others in the field, I started reading and subscribing to other blogs – another first for me. There’s a lot going on in the learning field and there are plenty of different perspectives that shine through from the blogs I read. While I don’t believe that there are necessarily good blogs and bad blogs as every writer has their own unique style and point of view, the following posts (in no particular order) were memorable to me as I think back over the year:

Finally, I’ve been fortunate enough to interact, connect with and learn from many amazing learning and development people over the course of the year. Thank-you all for inspiring, challenging and supporting me during 2013.

Merry Christmas and cheers to a happy, healthy and educational 2014!

 

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Improving Learner Motivation for eLearning

Motivation has been and continues to be a widely studied area across many of life’s domains. Motivation is the energising force that initiates and sustains behaviour and ultimately produces results. Many motivation theories focus on the amount of motivation, with a larger quantity said to result in improved outcomes. However, as educators we shouldn’t focus on generating more motivation from our learners but instead focus on creating conditions that facilitate the internalisation of motivation from within our learners.

Self-determination theory (SDT), an empirical theory of motivation by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, focuses on the degree in which behaviour is self-motivated and self-determined. According to SDT, engaging in activities for their inherent satisfaction and that are enjoyable are said to be intrinsically motivating. Unlike other motivation theories, extrinsic motivation (engaging in activities that lead to a separable outcome) is not a single construct; it exists in four distinct forms according to the extent to which the motivation for the behaviour emanates from one’s self. In other words, extrinsic motivation can be viewed by the degree to which it is controlling of one’s behaviour (external) or allows one’s behaviour to be more autonomous (internal).

SDT Continuum

Ryan and Deci, 2000.

Organismic Integration Theory (OIT), a sub-theory of SDT, places the four types of extrinsic motivation along a continuum of relative autonomy, depending on the level of control or autonomy. As can be seen in the diagram (from left to right), the types of motivation along the continuum relate to increasing levels of internalisation and autonomy and lower levels of control. Progression along the continuum is not necessarily linear and is subject to contextual factors. However, greater internalisation “is critical for effective psychological and academic functioning at all education levels” (Niemiec and Ryan, 2000, p.138).

How can we help learners to internalise their motivation?

SDT proposes that all humans require the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs, namely:

  • Autonomy (a sense of being in control and having freedom),
  • Competence (a sense of being able to do something i.e. being competent), and
  • Relatedness (a sense of being associated or connected to others).

Contexts that satisfy all three basic needs will help support people’s actions, resulting in more sustained motivation over time and positive outcomes. Learners are not always motivated to complete eLearning modules/courses – it might be a requirement of their job or as part of a qualification. But, if we can use strategies to support their competence, autonomy and relatedness needs we can assist learners to internalise their motivation of these types of externally regulated activities.

What do these support strategies look like in practice?

Here are some strategies that you can apply to your eLearning that can help improve learner motivation by satisfying their basic psychological needs:

Autonomy:

  1. Allowing learners to make meaningful choices that have consequences
  2. Providing learners with more than one way to reach their end goal
  3. Allowing learners to customise their environment e.g. choosing a character
  4. Encouraging learners to take risks and be creative during the eLearning module/course

Competence:

  1. Making the rules and goals for learners clear and structured
  2. Allowing multiple opportunities to complete parts of the eLearning module/course to allow learners to build their competence
  3. Requiring learners to frequently make decisions to keep the eLearning module/course moving forward
  4. Measuring learner performance in multiple ways
  5. Increasing the difficulty as the learner progresses through the eLearning module/course
  6. Linking progression (the reward) to learner competence
  7. Providing learners with constant and varied feedback and support
  8. Allowing learners to review or replay earlier parts of the eLearning module/course
  9. Recognise learner achievement e.g. experience points or badges

Relatedness:

  1. Providing space/areas for learner interaction and discussion e.g. forums
  2. Providing opportunities for learner collaboration e.g. a group quest or challenge

Motivation plays an important role during eLearning experiences and our challenge is to create eLearning that our learners want to engage in. As educators, we have an opportunity to assist learners with the internalisation of motivation in the way we design and deliver learning experiences. While it’s not always easy, we need to use strategies that help satisfy the competence, autonomy and relatedness needs of our learners if we want to improve their motivation towards the module or course they are completing.

References:

Deci, E. L. & Ryan, R. M. (2008) Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains. Canadian Psychology. 49 (1), 14-23.

Kapp, K. M. (2012) The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. Pfeiffer/ASTD

Niemiec, C. P & Ryan, R. M. (2009). Autonomy, competence and relatedness in the classroom: applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education. 7 (2), 133-144.

Ryan, R. M. & Deci, E. L. (2000) Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology. 25, 54-67.

Also, check out this website for more information on self-determination theory: http://www.selfdeterminationtheory.org/

A similar version of this article originally appeared in Training & Development magazine, October 2013 Vol 40 No 5, published by the Australian Institute of Training and Development and eLearn Magazine, October 2013.

 

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Video Games and Motivation

Gamification

Every year globally, people spend huge amounts of money and time playing video games. Most people who engage in video game play choose to do so voluntarily, because it is fun and they enjoy it. This makes it an intrinsically motivating activity.

Research into video game play has tended to focus on either the positive effects e.g. a sense of efficacy or improved learning or the negative effects e.g. lower productivity or violent tendencies on players1. However, some studies have examined the motivating effects of video games, albeit from different perspectives.

Sherry and Lucas2 found that players engage in video games to access one or more of the following psychological states:

  • Competition: the experience of defeating others
  • Challenge: the experience of success following effort
  • Diversion: to escape an experience of stress
  • Fantasy: to experience novel or unrealistic stimuli
  • Social interaction: to have a social experience
  • Arousal: to experience activated positive emotions

According to Yee3, people who play Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) e.g. Star Wars Galaxies, were motivated by three main areas while playing (made up of 10 sub-components):

Achievement:

  • Advancement: rapid progression, gaining power, accumulating wealth or status
  • Mechanics: analysing the rules and system in order to optimise character performance
  • Competition: a desire to challenge and compete with others

Social:

  • Socialising: including helping others, making friends, chatting with other players
  • Relationships: developing long-term relationships, finding and giving support to others
  • Teamwork: collaborating with others, achieving as a group.

Immersion:

  • Discovery: exploring the game world, finding hidden things within the game
  • Role-Playing: creating a character back-story, interacting with other characters
  • Customisation: the ability to create the appearance of the character
  • Escapism: providing an escape from real-life problems

Research by Ryan, Rigby and Przybylski4 into the motivation to play video games (regardless of the game type) found that motivation is accounted for by how well the game satisfies our three basic psychological needs:

  1. Autonomy – the extent to which the game provides flexibility over movement and strategies, choice over task and goals, and rewards that provide feedback and not control.
  2. Competence – the extent to which tasks provide ongoing challenges and opportunities for feedback.
  3. Relatedness – the extent to which the game provides interactions between players.

In addition to need satisfaction, their research also found that:

Presence – the extent to which the player feels within the game environment as opposed to being outside the game manipulating the controls, and

Intuitive controls – the extent to which the controls make sense and don’t interfere with feelings of presence, were also important as they allow players to focus on game play and access the need satisfaction provided by the game.

Contexts that satisfy these basic needs will support people’s actions, resulting in more optimal motivation and positive outcomes. Therefore, we should design our eLearning experiences to support the autonomy, competence and relatedness needs of our learners.

Gamification is a technique that aims to replicate the motivational pull of video game play and apply it to eLearning experiences. While gamification has been met with some criticism, it seems that it’s more the application that is the problem rather than the technique itself. In order to successfully gamify an eLearning course we need to satisfy people’s basic psychological needs. If we look at popular video games over time such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, Angry Birds, Guitar Hero, Wii Sports, Donkey Kong, World of Warcraft or Space Invaders, we can see how they satisfy these needs and use similar approaches to our own eLearning design.

Here are some examples of the game design elements used by these popular games and how they apply to each of our psychological needs:

Autonomy:

  • Allowing players to make meaningful choices that have consequences
  • Providing players with more than one way to reach their goal
  • Allowing players to customise their environment e.g. choosing a character

Competence:

  • Making the rules and goals for players clear and structured
  • Allowing multiple opportunities to complete parts of the game to allow players to build their competence
  • Requiring players to frequently make decisions to keep the game moving forward
  • Measuring player performance in multiple ways
  • Increasing the difficulty as the player progresses through the game
  • Linking progression (the reward) to player competence
  • Providing players with constant and varied feedback and support
  • Allowing players to review or replay earlier parts of the game

Relatedness:

  • Providing space/areas for player interaction and discussion
  • Providing opportunities for player collaboration e.g. a group quest or challenge

Popular games use different combinations of game design elements in order to keep people motivated to play. If you substitute ‘player’ with ‘learner’, from the above list, you will see how gamification can be incorporated into your eLearning experiences. Once the mechanics are selected (based on the needs of learners), designers can then look to incorporate the aesthetic elements of game design in order to create presence and intuitive control/navigation which will support the game mechanics.

Motivation plays an important role during eLearning experiences and our challenge is to create eLearning that our learners want to engage in. While it does require more effort in the design, gamification is a technique that, if used correctly, can improve the motivation of all learners who experience gamified eLearning.

References

1 & 4 Ryan, R. M., Rigby, C. S & Przybylski, A. K., (2006). The motivational pull of video games: a self-determination theory approach. Motivation and Emotion.  30, 347-364.

2 Przybylski, A. K., Rigby, C. S. & Ryan, R. M. (2010) A motivational model of video game engagement. Review of General Psychology. 14 (2), 154-166.

3 Yee, N. (2006). Motivations for play in online games. CyberPsychology & Behaviour. 9 (6), 772-775.

Game Over

 
22 Comments

Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Gamification, Motivation

 

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Game Elements for Learning: Week 3

ge4l

Well, all good things must come to an end and the same can be said of my micro-MOOC #GE4L. Although, while it might be the end of the MOOC, my journey into the world of Gamification has only just begun. As I said in my last post, I’m keen to start applying what I’ve been reading and learning about in this course and I intend to do this in the near future.

Some reflections about this course:

  • I’ve been exposed to a rich array of resources and examples which has both consolidated what I already know about Gamification and expanded my thinking on the subject
  • I need to play more games!
  • Gamification (if done well) should make learning more interesting, enjoyable and fun for the learners
  • Creating a gamified learning experience will take some time in the planning, design and creation but we need to start (as always) with our learners and what they need to be able to do ( I also believe this extra effort is worth it)
  • Some people I would recommend to learn more about Gamification are – Karl Kapp, Jane McGonigal, and Amy Jo Kim. If you know of others, let me know!
  • I’ve made some great connections because of this course and hopefully we’ll stay in contact in the future.

From an overall MOOC experience, I’ve learned that:

  • Ryan Tracey’s 10 Hot Tips for MOOCers was very useful and worked well for me
  • It’s best to not be overwhelmed by the amount of resources and discussion threads, look for things that interest you or might be useful to you and focus on them
  • You only get out what you put in (a cliché but its true)
  • Participate as much as you can and get involved somehow (and do this regularly)
  • MOOCs seem suit people who are self-directed learners so they might not be for everyone.

Last but not least, a huge thank-you to our Game Masters: Robin Bartoletti, Whitney Kilgore, Heather Farmakis and Michelle Pacansky-Brock. You are great facilitators and provided a lot of support to participants, clear instructions, a large variety of resources that covered a number of different fields and you encouraged all of us to contribute and share with others in some way. The time and effort that you put into creating and running this course was terrific and greatly appreciated by me and I’m sure all of the other participants. I would definitely participate in another MOOC.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Gamification, MOOC

 

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Game Elements for Learning: Week 2

ge4l

To be honest, I didn’t participate too much in the course this week. I did look through the readings though, and again there is a great variety of links and sources of information for participants, that cater for different areas of education.

There comes a point when you can only read so much information on a topic, then you need to start applying what you’ve learned about and give it a go on a real project. Obviously, I still don’t know everything there is to know about gamification but I reckon I know enough to start creating a module and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more along the way. I’m keen to see examples of gamification being used in online learning, specifically workplace e-learning. I read a great post from Karl Kapp on The Gamification of Retail Safety and Loss Prevention Training in Learning Solutions magazine. I’d love to see more, so if you have any examples or know of any, please let me know.

I have a new module that I need to start working on for my organisation (I work in local government). The topic is our Code of Conduct – exciting stuff! It’s a compliance course and traditionally they are quite boring given the content. We don’t have an online course for this topic at the moment so while I’ve got a blank canvas to work with, I want this one to be different. We’ve also just purchased an Articulate Storyline licence (which I’m excited about) in which the module will be created.

What I intend to do is blog about the development of the course as it progresses and throw around some ideas in the process. I’m more than happy to take suggestions – I’m actually hoping to get them. It will be an example of showing my work, which is something else I want to do more of. I’ll be keen to receive feedback or ideas from you, in a collaborative kind of way as it goes along.

I’ll post more about this in the coming weeks!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Gamification, MOOC

 

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Game Elements for Learning: Week 1

ge4l

Another week down in GE4L and its been a good, solid week. I’m finding that there is a LOT of info/resources provided by our Game Masters and other participants, which is great but it does mean that I’m probably a bit selective in what I read. I really like how you can read as much as you want to or need to. However, a couple of key things that I took away from this week (both are quoted from the MOOC) which will be helpful in gamification design were:

The “Seven Core Concepts for Smart Gamification” which were outlined by Amy Jo Kim in a video clip:

  1. Know who’s playing – design for their social style
  2. Build Positive Emotions (PERMA) into your core activity loop
  3. Build a system that’s easy to learn and hard to master
  4. Design for Onboarding (Tutorial), Habit-Building (Grind), and Mastery (Elder Game)
  5. Use Progress Mechanics to “light the way” towards learning and mastery
  6. As players progress, unlock greater challenges and complexity
  7. Deliver intrinsic motivations like Power, Autonomy and Belonging

There was also The PERMA model, which are five essential elements that should be in place for us to experience lasting well-being. These are:

Positive Emotion (P)

For us to experience well-being, we need positive emotion in our lives. Any positive emotion like peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, or love falls into this category – and the message is that it’s really important to enjoy yourself in the here and now, just as long as the other elements of PERMA are in place.

Engagement (E)

When we’re truly engaged in a situation, task, or project, we experience a state of flow: time seems to stop, we lose our sense of self, and we concentrate intensely on the present. This feels really good! The more we experience this type of engagement, the more likely we are to experience well-being.

Positive Relationships (R)

As humans, we are “social beings,” and good relationships are core to our well-being. Time-and-again, we see that people who have meaningful, positive relationships with others are happier than those who do not. Relationships really do matter!

Meaning (M)

Meaning comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. Whether this is a specific deity or religion, or a cause that helps humanity in some way, we all need meaning in our lives to have a sense of well-being.

Accomplishment/Achievement (A)

Many of us strive to better ourselves in some way, whether we’re seeking to master a skill, achieve a valuable goal, or win in some competitive event. As such, accomplishment is another important thing that contributes to our ability to flourish.

For me, both of these provide some good considerations when designing a gamified learning experience. They also highlight the complex and multifaceted nature applying gamification in a meaningful way.

Image from GE4L MOOC site

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 12, 2013 in Gamification, MOOC

 

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Game Elements for Learning: O-week

ge4l

A couple of weeks ago I enrolled in my first MOOC: ‘Game Elements for Learning’ through the Canvas Network and Academic Partnerships. This one is a micro-MOOC and it lasts for 4 weeks. I’ve read a little bit about Massive Open Online Courses via blog posts and Twitter and I wanted to experience one for myself. I’ve studied online before with a cohort of about 60 people who were located in various parts of the world but I wanted to experience what its like with hundreds, maybe even thousands of participants! This particular one caught my eye because it’s about gamification, which is something else I want to learn more about.

One of the first things I did this week was to re-read Ryan Tracey’s ’10 Hot Tips for MOOCers’ blog post as there’s some good advice for first time MOOCers like me. I’ll probably read it again as I progress through the course.

This MOOC is a cMOOC (with the ‘c’ standing for connectivist) which is different from an xMOOC (which is a more instructor-led, traditional higher education approach). As such, there is a lot of encouragement for us to contribute to forums and connect via LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs etc. and to share our resources, knowledge and experiences. I’ve started to do this although I need to jump into the discussions forums a bit more.

By the end of the course we, should be able to:

  • Define game thinking and design
  • Locate game elements for use in learning
  • Apply or create a game element to a learning activity.

I’ve worked my way through the first topic and it was a good introduction to the course and the area of gamification itself. There were a few different activities – I created an avatar, posted to a forum, watch some video clips, read some introductory info and completed a gamification quiz where I earnt a badge!

Some initial thoughts:

  • Really good communication from the Game Masters (facilitators) leading up to the start of the course, providing plenty of instructions and support
  • Plenty of opportunities to collaborate and link to personal blogs and social media
  • The response time to other participants questions and posts seems quite quick given the numbers
  • The site itself is easy to navigate and there’s plenty to explore
  • You really need to be a self-directed learner so this type of may not  be for everyone.

While I am keen to learn more about gamification, I’m also looking at the course from a design and facilitation perspective. The reason games are motivating is because they satisfy our basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness (as per Ryan and Deci’s Self-Determination Theory). I’m interested to see if the course does this (so far so good) and how I can incorporate these techniques into my courses. Also, as someone who wants to continue to develop my skills as an online facilitator, I’m hoping to pick up some ideas from our Game Masters as we go along.

Overall, a great start to the MOOC. I’m looking forward to working through the next topic as well as meeting and learning from other MOOCers.

GE4L MOOCers, how was your first week?

Image from GE4L MOOC site

 

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