2.ii Game-Design-Inspired Learning Initiatives

Carson, Stephen, and Jan Philipp Schmidt. 2012. “The Massive Open Online Professor.” Academic Matters: The Journal of Higher Educationn.p. online-professor/.

Carson and Schmidt offer an overview of the current state and possible effects of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs were initiated by academic institutions such as Stanford and MIT, and they offer free, online courses that hundreds of thousands of users can enroll in at minimal additional cost to the institution. The authors describe the characteristics of MOOCs as consisting of open content, peer-to-peer interactions, automated assessment and grading, and alternative recognition or credential systems. Gamification, and specifically the use of badges, has been an approach led by the Mozilla Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and Peer 2 Peer University to develop a new way of acknowledging learning achievements. Carson and Schmidt speculate about the lasting changes MOOCs may bring about, such as the possibility of long-term engagement in learning (beyond the completion of university courses and degrees).

Danforth, Liz. 2011. “Gamification and Libraries.” Library Journal 136 (3): 84–85.

Danforth defines gamification as the application of gameplay mechanics in non-game settings. She contextualizes gamification as a method often used in marketing tactics in a type of rewards-based incentive program. Danforth acknowledges that gamification can be beneficial if it is engaging and encourages creative thinking. She points out its employment in educational settings and sees gamification’s potential use in enhancing library skills and intellectual endeavours.

Dickey, Michele D. 2007. “Game Design and Learning: A Conjectural Analysis of How Massively Multiple Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) Foster Intrinsic  Motivation.” Educational Technology Research and Development 55 (3): 253–73.

Dickey investigates how massively multiple online role-playing games (MMORPGs) may offer structural models for the design of interactive learning environments. She focuses on the aspects that support intrinsic motivation in MMORPGs: character design, narrative, and player motivation, as well as how scaffolding for problem solving and narrative structure encourage learning. Dickey conducts a thorough literature review and recognizes that MMORPGs are structured as collaborative, strategy-driven, multimodal, interactive environments. These attributes tie in to the objectives of interactive learning environments that seek to generate collaboration and critical thinking.

Gibson, David, Clark Aldrich, and Marc Prensky, eds. 2007. Games and Simulations in Online Learning: Research and Development Frameworks. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Gibson, Aldrich, and Prensky’s compilation of essays provides a thorough overview of the opportunities that games and simulations offer in the design of online learning environments. The collection covers an array of areas, such as innovative design models, game-based assessment, learning and instruction in networked virtual worlds, and Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). Essays also include discussion on the use of simulation for discovery learning, guidelines for the development of prototypes and applications that include game and simulation approaches, and the analytics capabilities offered by game and simulation approaches in online education. The editors incorporate a wide scope of content for scholars and instructors who work in different fields and education stages.

Jensen, Matthew. 2012. “Engaging the Learner.” Training and Development 66 (1): 40.

Jensen outlines approaches, practices, and risks in using gamification for learning environments. He notes that successful gamification must elicit meaningful engagement by prioritizing the player experience, including by making the experience personally relevant and gearing it toward the target audience. He also highlights the power of narrative. Player-centred games in a successful gamification environment share the common characteristics of being responsive, collaborative, ritualistic, incremental, convenient, and rewarding. Thus, gamification should be approached by thinking like game designers, rather than simply implementing decontextualized mechanisms.

Jing, Tee Wee, Yue Wong Seng, and Raja Kumar Murugesan. 2015. “Learning Outcome Enhancement via Serious Game: Implementing Game-Based Learning Framework in Blended Learning Environment.” 5th International Conference on IT Convergence and Security (ICITCS), 24–27 August. doi:10.1109/ICITCS.2015.7292992.

Jing, Seng, and Murugesan discuss how serious games have emerged as a new learning strategy because of the need for engaging and interactive educational practices. They integrate pedagogy and game-design strategy and implement the game-based learning (GBL) framework in blended learning environments. The authors rely on instructional design theories and educational game-design models in their study. Their framework can be referred to for the identification and refinement of key elements in serious games. Jing, Seng, and Murugesan conclude that a proper implementation of the GBL framework in serious games will increase students’ interest and enhance their academic outcomes.

Kapp, Karl M. 2012. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: GameBased Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Kapp offers a practical guide for readers who want to implement gamification in learning environments. He provides definitions and examples of gamification, surveys individual elements and aspects of gamification and reviews them in detail, discusses the different levels of effectiveness of gamification for instructional purposes, and offers practical advice to planning the development of a gamified learning environment. Kapp is critical of common implementations of gamification (e.g., merely placing badges into a tool, trivializing learning, or only considering basic game mechanics rather than actual game-design practices). His detailed analysis and overview of gamification methods to improve learning environments provides educators and scholars with a thorough resource on the topic.

Mysirlaki, Sofia, and Fotini Paraskeva. 2012. “Leadership in MMOGs: A Field of Research on Virtual Teams.” Electronic Journal of E-Learning 10 (2): 223–34.

Mysirlaki and Paraskeva develop a theoretical framework for the analysis of leadership and social interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). Recognizing these environments as self-organized, complex systems, the authors consider how the social structures of MMOGs and MMORPGs may offer insights for the design of collaborative virtual environments. The authors focus specifically on leadership skills and how a sense of community is related to player motivation.

Squire, Kurt. 2008. “Open-Ended Video Games: A Model For Developing Learning for the Interactive Age.” In The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, And Learning, edited by Katie Salen, 167–98. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Squire reviews different types of video games, including targeted games, epistemic games, and augmented reality role-playing games. He focuses his analysis on open-ended simulation games, or sandbox games, as theoretical models for video game-based learning environments. Taking Civilization and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as examples, he looks at identity, competitive spaces, and experiences within those spaces, before moving on to consider more education-related insights. Squire considers how games are designed as communities for learning, the forms of engagement in open-ended games in school settings, interpretations of history through games, games as learning systems, and participatory education. Based on the insights gained from this review, Squire concludes that sandbox game approaches offer educators new models and forms to enable student participation and learning.

Van Staalduinen, Jan-Paul, and Sara de Freitas. 2011. “A Game-Based Learning Framework: Linking Game Design and Learning Outcomes.” In Learning to Play: Exploring the Future of Education with Video Games, edited by Myint Swe Khine, 29–54. New York: Peter Lang.

Van Staalduinen and de Freitas suggest that there is a need for new design methods that have an effect in both academic and formal contexts. The authors propose a hybrid framework that can be used in the design of new games, as well as in the analysis of existing game designs; it can also serve as a guide for designing new, more effective serious games. They lay out the limitations of the field of learning from video games, then acknowledge what they consider to be good instructional games. Van Staaduinen and de Freitas conclude that the learner has an important role to play in the dialogue between game design and learning, yet there needs to be greater assessment of the efficiency of learning-driven game-design strategy.