Gamification in MOOCs: A Possible Direction for Development

In one of our earlier post, Surf Trendreport: Technological trends that span education and ICT, SURF, November 2016, gamification was mentioned as one of the thirteen technological trends in higher education. Gamification is defined as the use of game aspects and designs in non-game contexts. The potential effect of gamification is often supported by successful case studies from health and marketing sectors where desired behaviors are shaped (i.e., healthy habits or increased consumption). In education, gamification has also been employed to increase motivation and engagement.

Given that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have high attrition rates that could be attributed to motivation and engagement issues, it is plausible that gamification may help to increase learner motivation and engagement. This, in turn, may alleviate the issue of high attrition. Ortega-Arranz, Munoz-Cristóbal, Martínez-Monés, Bote-Lorenzo, and Asensio-Pérez (2017) conducted a systematic literature review to examine how gamification has been implemented in MOOCs.

Thirty-four papers were selected for the review. The top game element implemented in MOOCs is badges, followed by leader boards and points. Other game elements, such as ratings, progress bar, avatar customization, duels, challenges, are not as well implemented. Among the papers reviewed, completing assignments and asking or answering questions in forums are the two most commonly associated student actions with the game elements. The authors noted that implementation of gamification in MOOCs are not supported or allowed by default in many MOOC platforms. Therefore, the effect of gamification in real MOOC contexts needs to be further explored. Only four of the 34 papers were published in journals while the rest were published in conferences, book chapters, and workshop. This suggests that the research in this area is still young and more studies are needed to determine the impact of gamification in MOOCs.

Ortega-Arranz, A., Munoz-Cristóbal, J. A., Martínez-Monés, A., Bote-Lorenzo, M. L., & Asensio-Pérez, J. I. (2017). How Gamification is Being Implemented in MOOCs? A Systematic Literature Review. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, 441-447.


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