The idea for this came from a conversation one of our professors was having with some students in the spring of 2010, in which the students said “we should get achievements for being awesome.” She took that idea to our chair, who took it to Microsoft Research, who said “here’s some seed money—think this through, then come back and tell us more.”
We know our students arrive on campus with only the most general sense of where there headed, and very little idea of how to get there.
We want to make the implicit map more explicit. What are the mileposts and markers along the way? How do they know they’re on the right track? How can we visualize their progress towards a goal? A personal narrative emerges…what does the narrative look like? How is lore disclosed?
This is less about pushing them to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do, and more about recognizing what they do, and allowing them to remember and reflect on their accomplishments.
When Andy first pitched this to MSR, he made a point of saying “GREAT DANGER HERE”…and he was right. The reason you don’t see this achievement approach everywhere in education is that it’s really hard to do well!
We’ve done this before, and it’s HARD. It’s much easier to critique other peoples’ games, or provide guidelines for game development, than it is to actually build a functioning system. The design is difficult, the implementation is even more difficulty. Lessons learned from Picture the Impossible : Build the infrastructure from scratch to store all the data you might possibly care about, so you’re not bolting functionality on after the fact Reduce the barriers to entry – it should be easy to start playing at any point (leaderboards are particularly problematic); comparisons should be contextual Create scalable systems for validation of achievements, as well as creation of content
By adding external tangible rewards, we can actually do damage to our students’ intrinsic motivations. The focus needs to be on “now…that” rewards, rather than “if…then” rewards.
For this to be successful, it hadto be voluntary, fun, and engaging. Students had to vest in it as creators, not just consumers. This is the key takeaway from Deci & Ryan’s SDT work. We know this because we asked them
http://gamification-research.org/2011/09/a-quick-buck-by-copy-and-paste/ http://gamification-research.org/2011/09/gamification-by-design-response-to-oreilly/ So….what feelings of competence did we want to focus on?
Big questions that guided our content development.
This was the model that emerged for us—the tension between the athenaeum and the mechanics institute, as well as the tension between individual and collaborative competencies. Bloom’s taxonomy informs the rings, but the important part is not just expansion but BALANCE.
Four kinds of achievements: Collectible cards User-submitted content (photos, URLs) System-assigned based on external criteria Checkins at locations or events (unable to implement properly)
“We are beginning to seeourselves not just fromthe inside, as an actordoing something on adaily basis, but from theoutside—understandingwhat we look like to theworld around us anddeveloping a kind ofhybrid identity.” – Aram Simmreich
Project Goals• Provide students with a clearer sense of their accomplishments in various areas (academic, social, and creative) of their college experience, and provide them with tools to reflect on their range and balance of activities.• Increase students’ awareness of activities and opportunities outside of their academic coursework, from wellness to collaboration to knowledge of the campus and city, and inspire them to sample a range of experiences.• Enable students to maintain and share a record of their activities.• Provide students with a sense of fantasy, whimsy and playful abstraction in dealing with the stress and growth associated with the transformational nature of undergraduate education.
“My point is that the ‘fun’, the pleasure of these elements does not come from some extrinsic reward value of those elements, but chiefly from the experience of competence they give rise to.”Sebastian Deterding
What behaviors did we want to reward and encourage? What feelings of competence could we engender?What did we want our students to remember and reflect on?
So, now what?• We got some things right… but we got a lot of things wrong, too.• Qualitative and quantitative assessment currently underway to inform our redesign• Will relaunch in fall with streamlined technology and game mechanics• Long-term goal is to disseminate a toolkit and best practices for other educators