An LMS to Support ‘Gameful’ Learning
Seeking to bring the qualities of well-designed games to pedagogical assessment, the University of Michigan created a learning management system that uses gaming elements such as competition, badges and unlocks to provide students with a personalized pathway through their courses.
By David Raths 08/24/16
UM School of Information and School of Education
a new type of learning management system called GradeCraft. GradeCraft borrows game elements such as badges and unlocks to govern students’ progress through a course. With unlocks, for example, you have to complete a task before moving to the next level.
Written in Ruby on Rails and hosted on Amazon Web Services, GradeCraft was created by a small team of students and faculty with additional software support from Ann Arbor-based developer Alfa Jango. Their work received support from UM’s Office of Digital Education and Innovation and the Office of the Provost. GradeCraft can work as a stand-alone platform or in conjunction with a traditional LMS via the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) protocol.
Here is how it works: Instructors create a course shell within GradeCraft (similar to the process with any LMS). Students use a tool called the “Grade Predictor” to plan a personalized pathway through the course, making predictions about both what they will do and how they will perform. When assignments are graded, predictions turn into progress; students are then nudged to revisit their semester plan, reassessing what work is available and how well they need to do to succeed overall. Students are able to independently choose an assessment pathway that matches their interests within the framework of learning objectives for the course.
more on LMS in this blog
more on gaming in this blog
more on badges in this blog
Based on the literature regarding games, gaming, gamification, game-based learning, and serious games, several clear trends emerge:
- Gaming and gamification in the sense of game-based learning is about using games and game-like tactics in the education process, for greater engagement and better learning outcomes. However, this is only the first level of such initiative. The second and higher level is about involving students in the game-building and gamification of the learning process (as per Vygotsky’s Zone of…) thus achieving student-centered and experiential learning.
- When hosting games and gaming in any library, “in-person” or electronic/online games are welcome but not sufficient to fulfill their promise, especially in an academic library. Per (1), an academic library has the responsibility to involve students and guide them in learning how to engage in the building process required in true game-based learning.
- Game-based learning, gaming and gamification in particular, in educational (academic library) settings must consider mobile devices and the BYOD movement in particular as intrinsic parts of the entire process. Approaching the initiative primarily by acquiring online “in-person” games, or game consoles has the same limited educational potential as only hosting games, rather than elevating the students to full guided engagement with game-based learning. If public relations and raised profile are the main goals for the academic library, such an approach is justified. If the academic library seeks to maximize the value of game-based learning, then the library must consider: a. gaming consoles, b. mobile devices as part of a BYOD initiative and c. cloud-based / social games, such as MineCraft, SimCity etc.
- Design for game-based learning, gaming and gamification in educational (academic library) settings must include multiple forms of assessment and reward, e.g. badges, leaderboards and/or certificates as an intrinsic part of the entire process. Merely hosting games in the academic library cannot guarantee true game-based learning. The academic library, as the forefront of a game-based learning initiative on campus, must work with faculty on understanding and fine tuning badges and similar new forms of assessment and reward, as they effectively implement large scale game-based learning, focused on the students’ learning gains.
Recommendations for LRS
- In regard to LRS, the gaming and gamification process must be organized and led by faculty, including housing and distributing the hardware, software and applications, when needed.
- The attached paper and the respective conclusions summarized in four points demand educational and experiential background, which is above the limits of the LRS staff. In addition, the LRS staff has clearly admitted that the pedagogical value of gaming and gamification is beyond their interest. This recommendation is not contradicting to the fact and opportunity for LRS staff to participate in the process and contribute to the process; it just negates the possibility of staff mandating and leading the process, since it will keep the gaming and gamification process on a very rudimentary level.
- The process must be further led by faculty with a terminal degree in education (Ph.D.) and experience in the educational field, since, as proved by the attached paper and 4 point conclusion, the goal is not a public-library type of hosting activities, but rather involving students in a pedagogically-sound creative process, with the respective opportunity for assessment and future collaboration with instructors across campus. This recommendation is not contradicting the fact and opportunity for LRS library faculty to participate actively in the process and contribute to the process. It just safeguards from restricting the process to the realm of “public-library” type of hosting activities, but failing to elevate them to the needs of an academic campus and connecting with instructors across campus.
- This conclusions adhere to and are derived from the document recommended by the LRS dean, discussed and accepted by LRS faculty in 2013 about new trends and directions in academic libraries, namely diversification of LRS faculty; breaking from the traditional library mold of including faculty from different disciplines with different opinions and ideas.
“From Microsoft’s killer new Outlook email app to fun little games for passing the time like Psych, you’re bound to find something you like.” There’s even an app that lets you volunteer for the blind. Most of the apps are free or less than $5 for iOS. The mobile interface of the Outlook email app (free) looks especially easy to read and use, which is hard to find with most email apps.
The article features Hopper, Letterspace, Funny or Die Weather, Minesweeper Widget Edition, Detour, Khan Academy, and more.
A team of German researchers has used artificial intelligence to create a “self-aware” version of Super Mario who can respond to verbal commands and automatically play his own game.
Artificial Intelligence helps Mario play his own game
Students at the University of Tubingen have used Mario as part of their efforts to find out how the human brain works.
The cognitive modelling unit claim their project has generated “a fully functional program” and “an alive and somewhat intelligent artificial agent”.
Can Super Mario Save Artificial Intelligence?
The most popular approaches today focus on Big Data, or mimicking humansthat already know how to do some task. But sheer mimicry breaks down when one gives a machine new tasks, and, as I explained a few weeks ago, Big Data approaches tend to excel at finding correlations without necessarily being able to induce the rules of the game. If Big Data alone is not a powerful enough tool to induce a strategy in a complex but well-defined game like chess, then that’s a problem, since the real world is vastly more open-ended, and considerably more complicated.
Games in the library
bibliography and research
Playing in the Past: A History of Games, Toys, and Puzzles in North American Libraries
Author(s): Scott Nicholson
Source: The Library Quarterly, Vol. 83, No. 4 (October 2013), pp. 341-361
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/671913
demonstrate the different ways in which libraries have used games, toys, and puzzles over the last 150 years through bothcollections and services
p, 342 Defining games –
p. 348 Games as the Subject of Collections\
p. 350A significant shift in academic libraries is a focus on providing services to students. Since agrowing number of academic publications both current issues and back volumes
are ac-cessible online through library subscriptions, the physical space of academic libraries is notneeded for collections of periodicals. The concept of the “learning commons”has become
popular on US campuses in the past decade; it combines traditional library resources and
the availability of library staff members with group work spaces, computer access and assis-
tance, and writing assistance to provide one place where students can get assistance with
course work. In addition, many of these learning commons also include cafes, social spaces,
and other support of the social lives of students, and it is in this role that academic libraries
provide access to collections of games.
p. 357 Another upcoming area of gaming in libraries is gamification. Gamification is the application of game design elements to a nongame setting ðDeterding et al. 2011Þ.
Nicholson, S. (2013, June). Exploring Gamification Techniques for Classroom Management. Paper Presented at Games+Learning+Society 9.0, Madison, WI
The concept of meaningful gamification is that the primary use of game layers is not to provide
external rewards, but rather to help participants find a deeper connection to the underyling topic
More on games in education in this blog
MOOC and Libraries
New ACRL Discussion Group—Library Support for MOOCs
Libraries in the Time of MOOCs
issues related to MOOCs, such as intellectual property rights, privacy issues, and state regulations.
MOOCs have arrived on the scene at a time when many institutions of higher learning are in extreme financial crisis
OCLC conference, “MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge? http://www.oclc.org/research/events/2013/03-18.html
The MOOC movement might change this copyright-ownership contract between university and faculty.
Stephens, M. m., & Jones, K. L. (2014). MOOCs as LIS Professional Development Platforms: Evaluating and Refining SJSU’s First Not-for-Credit MOOC. Journal Of Education For Library & Information Science, 55(4), 345-361.
xMOOCs. Using centralized learning platforms (e.g., Coursera),they emphasize individual learning usingautomated assessment tools.In contrast, cMOOCs stress the relationship between course content and a community of learners. Social learning, in thecase of cMOOCs, is emphasized through uses of distributed tools (e.g., a combination of a course site, student blogs, andsocial etworking sites) to build networks of knowledge and learners. Unlike their xMOOC counterparts, the role of an in istructor in a cMOOC is to be a “guide on the side,” a facilitator of the knowledge making process who uses connectivist learning theory (Siemens, 2004; Siemens,2012)
Learning 2.0 programs, also known as“23 Things,” have offered online technology-focused professional development for library staff and could be considered an early version of LIS-focused MOOCs (Stephens, 2013a). Utilizing concepts such as self-directed learning, play, and an emphasis on lifelong learning, these programs have been offered for individual libraries as well as consortial and state level iterations to reach thousands of library staff.
The course structure of the MOOCversion of the HL incorporated content updated from the SLIS course by the coinstructors. Ten modules were scheduled over a twelve-week “semester.” Students
could earn a certificate of completion, if they finished three of five artifact-based assignments of their choosing, in addition to blogging and participating in an end-of-course virtual symposium. The weekly schedule is available in Appendix A, and assignment descriptions are available in Appendix B
utilizing concepts such as self-directed learning, play, and an emphasis on lifelong learning, these programs have been offered for individual libraries as well as consortial and state level iterations to reach thousands of library staff. Benefits to staff include increased comfort with emerging technologies and an increased desire to continue learning (p. 348).
Please have a list of free and SCSU hosted resources for lecture capturing:
Other free, shareware and paid sources in our former IMS blog entry:
The Awesome Power of Gaming in Higher Education
EDUCAUSE 2013 welcomes Jane McGonigal and considers the potential of games in education.
The University of Washington’s Foldit game enables anyone to contribute to scientific research through virtual protein folding. The university’s game developers posit that human gamers’ propensity to not give up on a gaming task – resiliency – make them much more adept at solving complex protein structure prediction and design than supercomputers. And in some ways, they’ve already proven that to be so. Foldit game participants have been named in several published scientific journal articles, including one that describes how a protein structure could be solved and used in the treatment of HIV.
The rich, interactive universe of Grand Theft Auto was the inspiration for this game, developed for The World Bank as a way to teach Sub-Sahara African youths to solve social problems in ways that also could provide a sustainable living. The platform is free and available online and can be used by schools to teach social entrepreneurship. A graphic novel serves as the game’s centerpiece, and players build out their gaming profiles as a comic or graphic novel might retell a superhero’s origin story. Participants complete projects in real life to solve real problems, such as securing a community’s food supply or establishing a sustainable power source, then progress through levels of the game. Those who successfully complete their 10-week missions ultimately earn certification from the World Bank Institute. In 2010, 50 student participants saw their entrepreneurship models funded by the World Bank, including Libraries Across Africa (now Librii), a franchise operating in Ghana.
Not all games must be played out in a virtual space. This game – developed by McGonigal with Natron Baxter and Playmatics – combines real-world missions with virtual clues and online collaboration, resulting in young people working together overnight in the New York Public Library to write and publish a book of personal essays about what they learned.
“The game is designed to empower young people to find their own futures by bringing them face-to-face with the writings and objects of people who made an extraordinary difference.”
Participants spend a night wandering throughout the library’s stacks and research materials, scanning QR codes to prove they found and interacted with the objects of their clues or missions. One 2011 participant, upon discovering the library’s early draft of the Declaration of Independence wrote an essay called a “Declaration of Interdependence.”
More on Jane McGonigal on YouTube: