Nov 21

Fried Friday: Gamifying Education

It’s not too late to sign up for Karl Kapp’s short presentation on Games vs. Gamification. Join us at 11 AM on Monday the 24th to learn more about the gamification of education and how you might improve your student’s engagement and interest in your course topic. Karl Kapp of Bloomsburg University is the author of the Gamification of Learning and Instruction and an expert on the topic. We are very lucky to have him join us via Collaborate on Monday.

Registration will close Monday morning at 9 AM so be sure to follow the link here to send us your registration information so we can get you the webinar information in time.

Please register today to attend the webinar. And, please spread the word to your colleagues.


Register for the Games or Gamification of Higher Education Webinar NOW!
Fill out our short form so you’ll receive the link to participate.

Each Friday we usually like to leave you with lighter, less brain heavy information. So, in that tradition, here’s an Extra Credits video on Gamifying Education. I think it hits a lot of interesting points which will tie in nicely with Karl’s talk on Monday. Click the image below to view.

Click for Video

As always, we love to hear your comments. Have fun with our last post and the Pluck the Turkey Game and don’t forget, next week we’ll be pre-registering for our 10 Day Faculty Challenege Game that starts December 1st. Keep your eyes open for more details!

Nov 19

Register NOW for Monday’s Webinar with Karl Kapp!!!

We’re excited to announce that Karl Kapp, author of The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, will be helping us kick off two exciting weeks of challenges (a game!) by speaking with us on Monday, November 24, at 11 AM. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to join Karl and discuss the difference between gaming and gamification in education. Please register today to attend the webinar. And, please spread the word to your colleagues.


Register for the Games or Gamification of Higher Education Webinar NOW!
Fill out our short form so you’ll receive the link to participate.

Click to Begin GameWe invite you to play our new game. We created this Pluck the Turkey game (Nicole’s done a masterful job at making this game fun and engaging don’t you think?) so that you’d be ready for Karl’s webinar on Monday and so that you’d have a fun way of learning or reinforcing your learning about games and the gamification of education.

Before trying the game please review our first two posts on gamification, dated November 10th and November 17th. Then, once you think you understand gamification, start the game by clicking on the image at the left. (Hmm, I’ll bet you’ve told students to review your lecture material before taking your quiz too, with mixed results!)

Please comment and let us know what you think of game! Did it help you to understand gamification? Did you save Thanksgiving?

Nov 18

Tech Tuesday – Your Turn


This week we’d like you to share a tech tip! Do you have a tech tool, a method, or a shortcut that makes your teaching more efficient or effective? Have you found a fun app or add-on that you enjoy using? If so, please share in the comments below!



Photo credit:

Nov 17

Gamification of Learning: Part 2

Part 2: The Elements of Gamification

Click for examplesIn our first post we explored a little bit about the importance of games historically and their relationship to learning. The Nobel Prize website has some wonderful educational games and videos that might give you an idea of some well-designed and educationally challenging gaming examples.

The gamification of education is more about the elements of games than the game itself. In other words, when you analyze a game that you really are addicted to or really liked as a child, what made it fun? What made you return to play the game more than once? What was the challenge? What was it that hooked you? When we talk about the gamification of learning, we’re going to be talking about the game design principles and interactive elements that we might want to include in our classes to enhance or transform the educational experience. Karl Kapp writes that “Game-based learning can turn disconnected, bored learners into engaged participants.”


SPOILER ALERT: Mark your calendar! Karl Kapp will meet with faculty via webinar LIVE on Monday, November 24, at 11 AM. JOIN US!!

Click to read postFirst of all, let’s be clear. Has everyone drunk the gaming cool-aide? Does everyone think that gamification is a good idea? Absolutely not! You might want to read Jeff Watson’s “Gamification: Don’t say it, don’t do it, just stop” to see another side of the gamification issue. I think though, before you fold up your arms and say, you don’t have to follow this new educational flavor-of-the-week trend, you should understand it. In other words, as I always told my kids, say ‘no’ to dancing because you don’t want to dance, not because you don’t know how to dance. Ready to jump in and learn more about gamification?

Here is a simple guide to some aspects of games that can apply to education. More details can be found in Kapp’s book The Gamification of Learning and Instruction and his collaboratively authored book Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook.

Rules: All games have rules. In the educational environment these rules will tie to your learning objectives. These rules lead students to the desired learning. Effectively, the rules guide students to the learning objectives. There are also rules of engagement which may include behavioral norms and boundaries. These rules will guide students to understanding what behaviors are permitted and which will not be tolerated.

For the Win: All games have a purpose or a reason for playing. Whether the goal of the game is to score 100 points, or rescue the princess, or get 3 x’s in a row, games have a clearly defined win. Gamers refer to this as FTW (for the win). In education we call these our objectives or sometimes they are a set of skills that students must attain.

Motivation: Not all game players play games for the same reason. Richard Bartle has described the four main player types based on their motivation for engaging in play. There are “Achievers” who want to win. These are your students who will rise to a challenge and do best when they can see how other players are doing. They like to be number one. There are “Socializers” who will stop to help another player. These are your students who share ideas and links and comments with other students. These are those students who make teams operate more smoothly. There are “Explorers” who love to discover the clues. These students will create new content, finding links to share with the class. They will go out of their way to bring new information or uncover new data.They click everywhere just in case you’ve hidden information someplace. Finally, there are the “Killers” who will cheat or hack their way through the game. These students like to take short-cuts and do whatever it takes to finish or complete the assignment. They don’t particularly care how other students are doing, they enjoy stepping over others on their way up. In fact, often, for the “killer” it isn’t about winning, it is about making others lose.

Skill Levels: Most games have very easy entry levels to teach the game and the rules to novice players. You do not want to discourage people from playing your game. However, as much as you want to attract and retain these novice players, you also want to challenge players who understand the game and the environment. In education we refer to this as differentiated instruction. Keeping your top learners engaged without disenfranchising those who need more support.

Challenges: Games are all about challenges, or obstacles to overcome. They are all about the story. Fulfill the quest, save the princess and kill the dragon along the way. Research has shown that facts are learned better when they are embedded into a story rather than delivered as a bulleted list. But, the story should be simple and make sense and be relevant to the learning. One of the biggest mistakes that educational games make is to create a storyline that overpowers the learning or obscures the learning.

Learn from Failure: Gamers often lose, yet they usually jump right back into the game and try again. Built into failure is a strong incentive to try again. In games you learn from your mistakes. There may be a fine line between frustration and fun, but failure itself rarely makes a person quit play and rather often acts as a strong incentive to try again.

Scoring: Whether we’re talking about badges, points, or leader boards, games usually have a powerful build-in incentives to reward players. Often, these points, or badges accumulate throughout the game, much like a student’s points add up to a final grade at the end of the semester. In some social games, users are sent an email with digital awards letting the player know they’ve met a milestone.

Timing: Games usually have specified ending that is tangible and achievable. Often a progress bar will denote how much time or how many challenges you have yet to complete. With games, it often takes many attempts or many failures to achieve success. Failure is not considered a bad event, it is just part of the learning process. One notable characteristic described by gamers is getting lost in the game and losing a sense of time. They describe themselves as immersed or absorbed totally in the game. That’s a description that every educator would love students to be remarking about their content. Time can also be used as a reward or incentive to keep engaged. When reaching a certain level, the player or student is rewarded with additional time to continue the play.

Feedback: Built into almost every game is feedback. When a character encounters a challenge and makes the wrong choice, something happens and the player learns from that feedback to avoid that situation in the future. Feedback is usually a powerful incentive to try again and learn from the mistakes of previous attempts. Rewards are feedback. Grades are feedback. Attaching immediate feedback to actions is pivotal to keeping engagement alive.

Fun: Fun is important but should not drive the decision to gamify education. Most games and most learning can be designed and delivered to be both fun and engaging. A big mistake, however, is to be so consumed with the element of fun that the element of learning is forgotten. Always remember what the educational goals are that are trying to be met and don’t allow the game aspects to obscure those learning objectives.


Stay tuned. Wednesday we’ll introduce  “Pluck the Turkey” a game that we created to see how well you get these gamification concepts!

istock photo credit: nickpo

Nov 14

Fried Friday: Gameshow Contestants ARE the “Weakest Link”

Have you ever called on one of your students for the answer to a question only to have them blurt out something totally bizarre? Or, has it happened to you while playing Trivial Pursuits(TM) or some other game with friends? Sometimes when we’re put into the spotlight, our brains seem to freeze and we are shocked by how stupid we momentarily become.

Since we’re spotlighting gamification in the next few weeks, we thought our Fried Friday post should show the lighter side of games and gameshow responses. We hope you enjoy this collection of Best of Stupid Game Show Answers.

You Tube on Game Shows Click Here


Take note and mark you calendar now because we have some exciting events coming up in the next few weeks:

  • Monday November 24th 11 AM — LIVE Webinar with Karl Kapp, nationally known author and speaker on the Gamification of Learning and Instruction. You don’t want to miss this!!
  • Monday, December 1 through Friday December 12 — 10 Day Faculty Challenge, join us for a two-week exploration into educational gaming

Nov 12

Gamification Poll


Photo credit:

Nov 11

Tech Tuesday – SoftChalk

softchalkYour UAS Title III team is happy to let you know that we have renewed the SoftChalk license for another year!

SoftChalk is a program that lets you build lessons in the form of HTML pages that include navigation and interactive learning activities (popup text, quizzes, interactive images, timelines, and many more). Lessons can be packaged and uploaded to Blackboard. SoftChalk runs on both Mac’s and Windows.

The following training opportunities are available to UAS faculty:

  • Regularly scheduled Short Courses
  • Private training classes customized for us. A minimum of 10 attendees is required to schedule private training classes so if you are interested, please email Mary.

If you do not have SoftChalk you can download the program and get started building! Tutorials are available and SoftChalk maintains a UAS website with recorded webinars and other support material.

Nov 10

Gamification of Learning: Part 1

Part 1: Background

Educational games have been around forever. You have probably all played, shown a child, or at least heard of Typing Tutor or TypeBlaster, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, and the Oregon Trail. These are all educational games that have filled a nitch for years and years and have been modified, enhanced or replaced by similar updated versions to meet the graphical expectations and newer tools that kids have available to them today.

A theory of Fun

In real life (outside the university) we see gaming elements being used in a variety of ways in a variety of situations. For example, American Idol and similar copycat programs asks us to participate in picking a winner in their competitive singing program by voting; McDonald’s year after year tries to entice us to play Monopoly, McDonald’s style and win a million dollars; and even Fitbit, Weight-Watchers, and similar health websites invites us to create online communities and challenge our friends to walking more or losing weight while we cheer each other on.

It seems like higher education has made no real effort to join the gaming or gamification movement until recently. But, that’s not really true! Good instructors have been using gaming strategies for years in their classes. We often provide scenario-based instruction, or have students work in groups, each assuming the role of different stakeholders. Some instructors have provided sample exams with multiple opportunities to get the answers correct similar to the ‘many lives’ found in arcade and video games. Flashcards, puzzles, scavenger hunts have also been used by faculty to increase interest and retention of concepts in the classroom. And, these are just a few of the many game strategies that educators use. These strategies make learning not only more fun, but also more memorable.

You might be interested in a presentation A Theory of Fun (click image above) and the author of Raph Koster’s Blog. As a well-respected gaming designer has written essays and given presentations on gaming and the connections between fun and thinking.

Click for PDFCloser to home, Alex St. John gave a keynote at the UAA’s Serious Fun educational game gathering in April of 2014. His presentation gave a very interesting look at why we play. You can see his slides by clicking on the image, and you can watch the entire presentation, posted to Google Plus. Either/both are quite interesting.

We’re going to take a few posts to look more closely at what this new trend called “Gamification” is all about. But before you leave this post, we encourage you click on the infographic below Gamification in Education, Pulling it apart to put it back together.

Click for Gamification in Education Infographic

What do you know about gamification? What are your thoughts, ideas as we start out? Please answer the 3 questions below and feel free to add comments below.



Nov 07

Fried Friday & eTech Fair Starting Monday

It’s Friday again and you might be feeling like the “Apparently Kid,” Noah Ritter, in the video below.  Not to worry, some laughs from Noah combined with the weekend break, and you should be energized and ready for the eTech Fair starting on Monday November 10th.

The UAA eLearning Workgroup is hosting the eTech Fair for Distance Education week.  You can join short 1 hour teaching with technology sessions via Blackboard Collaborate throughout the week.  None of these 11 hour days like Noah’s kindergarten class!

Click on the calendar below the video for more information. We hope to “see” you at some of the sessions.



eTech Fair Badge


NOV. 10th-14th



Nov 06

Word Cloud Challenge Winners & eTech Fair Nov. 10-14

Join us in congratulating Anne Jones and Lorinda Fattic on their winning word clouds! You can find their submissions at our Faculty Challenge Google Site. We had a couple of late submissions as well so be sure and check out all of the word clouds to get some ideas for your own courses.LorindaFatticBadgeWordCloud

AnneJonesBadgeWordCloud Read the rest of this entry »

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