Gamifiying an online study skills module

I’ve previously posted about the impact and my reflections on our implementation of a “flipped in study skills programme” within face to face taught sessions. This is working well, lessons are being learnt, designs are being improved and it is getting traction across the wider community. Running parallel to this has been some exploration around the potential role of gamification within our course and workshop provision. While, we’ve also been rolling out a number of stand alone online courses (equivalent to face to face workshops), using the Blackboard, Coursesites Platform which use the Acheivements (Open Badges) as a record.

What I’d like to do is give some thought leadership time to how we are going to combine all these developments for the provision for a much broader online study skills module. Now, thought leadership requires input and challenge. I’ve seeded a few questions at the end for comments. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts.

If we take the narrow area around ICT Digital Literacy, for the Department of Science and Technology we already provide in curriculum flipped classroom sessions for effective use of social media, descriptive statistics and graphing, and flow diagrams. While the students also attend our generic sessions on effective poster design, enhancing presentations, and masterclasses around using Google and Microsoft products.

Therefore, the idea is to develop an online course (game) which brings all of these together, in a discipline focussed and timely way, and uses the concepts of games (reward, challenges, leader boards, power ups, hidden levels etc.,).

The content, and tasks will be developed in line with the needs of Level 4 students, so it has the potential to act as a bridging module into Higher Education. The intention would be to involve the Level 4 course teams who deliver the current study skills modules to identify their needs, ensure they have ownership over the direction, and have the opportunity to change the focus of their curriculum as the online course will act as the pre-session activity within the flipped model. It will also involve reviewing the Level 4 and Level 5 assessment types to ensure we have covered the required ICT skills (essays, reports, presentations and posters).

So in terms of equivalent face to face time (always a little dangerous to compare) we’d be looking for about 8 hours game time. While it should embrace our design ethos where online learning needs to be collaborative, active and feedback driven.

It does raise a number of wider questions. For instance, how we’ll manage monitoring and leadership boards? Can we continue to embed the game within Blackboard and extract Achievement data to develop leadership boards, or do we need to further develop our Open Badge Generator and a new games platform?

We’ll need to ring fence staff resource to ensure the develop of the material, tasks and challenges can be developed and are appropriate and effective. Crucially, we’ll need to include members of the Computer Games Design Course Team within the design and development phase.

So, the questions I have for you are … have you experience of this approach? what evidence is there it will motivate students? What reward (points mean prizes) might be appropriate? should it be time constrained? Where are the pitfalls? What game / learning design have you adopted or would you think appropriate?

The actual sprint developments will be pencilled in for May & June 2015. So it can be all ready for the start of the new academic year. Some of the inspiration for this, comes from:

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