Gamification, or "the use of design elements characteristic for games in non-game contexts" (Deterding et al. 2011), is ubiquitous in the daily lives of our students, ranging from fitness apps to educational sites. What aspects make gamified experiences alluring (not only to millennials and Gen Z students, as often surmised, but also to Gen X and Baby Boomers, according to The State of Online Gaming, 2019) and how could we harness this creative energy to increase the motivation of our students?
The allure definitely does not lie in "shallow" gamification, when the operators of the system (whether it is a business or a course) merely add a few badges, trophies, or a leaderboard to the routine running of events. Successful gamification, instead, depends on the system's ability to cater to the different needs of users by incorporating diverse game concepts, such as freedom of choice, narrative line, customized difficulty, progress, social interaction, etc. To mimic the real gaming experience, players need to be able to engage with the system in a way that motivates them personally. Ever since Bartle's (1996) seminal paper on player typology, which established the player archetypes of the achiever, killer, socializer, and explorer, researchers have been keen to uncover a range of preferences in players for the sake of customization – or, as we call it in pedagogy, differentiation.
In an educational context, gamification is still a rising trend. Dicheva et al. (2015) report that mostly computer science and STEM subjects utilize gamification in higher education. Prievara and Nádori (2018) described a pioneering implementation of gamification in EFL in a secondary school setting in Hungary, but language teaching in higher education has not tapped into the possibilities of gamification yet.
My action research project aims to showcase the benefits of combining gamification with autonomous learning for the sake of a tailored learning experience. An academic English writing course (CEFR C1/C2) for MSc students at the Management, Economicy, and Technology Department at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, is currently undergoing the process of gamification. This talk describes the theoretical underpinnings of the project, some of the hurdles encountered, the use of technology (e.g. Moodle and online sources), and the key design elements that allow for differentiation. The evaluation of the project still pending, this talk will provide an opportunity to gather feedback from professionals on this research project, in keeping with the concept of action research.
Obwohl das Spielen viele Aspekte des Lebens unserer Studierenden durchdringt, sind die Möglichkeiten der Gamifizierung oder "die Verwendung von Designelementen, die für Spiele in Nicht-Spielkontexten charakteristisch sind" (Deterding et al. 2011), im Sprachunterricht an den Hochschulen noch nicht ausreichend untersucht worden. Dieser Vortrag soll die Umsetzung der Gamifizierung in einem akademischen Englisch-Schreibkurs (CEFR C1/C2) für MSc-Studierende des Departements Management, Wirtschaft und Technologie der ETH Zürich, Schweiz, aufzeigen. Um die Lernerfahrung besser auf die unterschiedlichen Bedürfnisse unserer Studierenden abzustimmen, werden viele autonome Lernelemente in die Umsetzung einbezogen. In diesem Vortrag werden die Kernkonzepte, mögliche Wege zum Abschluss des Kurses, einige Hürden, auf die wir gestoßen sind, und der Einsatz von Technologie beleuchtet.
- Bartle, R. (1996). Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDS. http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm.
- Deterding, S., Sicart, M., Nacke, L., O'Hara, K., & Dixon, D. (2011). Gamification: Using game design elements in non-gaming contexts. Proceedings of the 2011 Annual Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 66, 2425-2428. DOI: 10.1145/1979742.1979575.
- Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G., & Angelova, G. (2015). Gamification in Education: A Systematic Mapping Study. Educational Technology & Society, 18(3), 75-88.
- Prievara, T., Nádori, G. (2018). A 21. századi iskola: Kézikönyv az iskola digitalis transzformációjához. Enabler.
- The State of Online Gaming – 2019. (2019). Limelight. https://www.limelight.com/resources/white-paper/state-of-online-gaming-2019/
Réka Mihálka received PhD in English at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest in 2011. A former Fulbright scholar, she travelled the world researching until she settled in Switzerland. At the Language Center of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, she specializes in English academic writing, particularly at PhD and Master's level, for the natural sciences and engineering subjects. Her current interests include gamification, learner autonomy, motivation, English for Specific Purposes, and playing with her two-year-old son Brúnó.