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Oct 21 2015

21 Oct 2015

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Let the Games Begin:
Adding Game-Style Elements to Your Moodle Course –
Part Two


In Part 1 on this topic, I offered suggestions for using Moodle’s activity completion capabilities to slowly reveal activities or resources in your Moodle course as students complete prerequisite activities. There are numerous other ways you can use Moodle’s activity completion to make your Moodle course more dynamic and hopefully more exciting to your students. I strongly encourage you to explore it, or talk to me about the possibilities. In this post, I want to look at a couple of other ways to use built-in Moodle features to emulate certain aspects of games.

Skills Check Quizzes

Moodle’s Quiz tool is pretty versatile. Depending on your settings, you can make a quiz that is highly secure to one that is not at all secure, with many other levels of security in between. In a typical skills-check quiz on Moodle, you would have very loose or no security restrictions at all. The level of security would depend largely on whether or not the quiz counts towards the course grade, and if so how heavily it influences the grade. Settings that are particularly relevant to a skills-check quiz are the feedback settings. Most skills-check quizzes will provide the student with immediate feedback, to let them know how well they understand the material. Moodle quiz showing feedbackThat feedback can be as generic or as specific as you decide to make it, and it can be shown to students after answering each question or after they submit the entire quiz. For example, you can simply tell the student if they got a question right or wrong. If you want to provide more information, you can also tell them why their answer is correct or incorrect along with where they can review the information, as in the example shown here. You can give students a single chance to take the quiz or you can let them take it multiple times. You can mix and match these settings. All of this is done automatically by the computer, which means it frees you up to focus on other class management or student learning issues.

If you think of how games work, they are very much like this. Games usually have consequences that the player sees immediately, and players are often given a chance to try again. The appeal of games stems largely from this balance between making it challenging enough so it doesn’t get boring, while at the same time making sure the challenges are attainable. To help players conquer challenges they are frequently given hints just like you can do with feedback in a Moodle quiz. Before even attempting a new challenge, though, players are led through a series of activities that help them build their skills, usually done in a scaffolded way, much like what we looked at in Part 1, with Moodle’s conditional release.

Checking Off Course Tasks

Finally, I’ll leave you with one more suggestion for imparting a game-like feel to your Moodle course. Why not let your students check off their progress through your course? If this doesn’t sound like a game to you, then you’re not familiar with Habitica, the app that turns your daily tasks into one huge check-off list, with other goodies that can also be included. Although you could incorporate more complex elements it’s best to begin with simple things and work your way up. So what I suggest is to either use the built-in Activity Completion on your resources and activities or to use the Checklist activity. Both of them offer a check-off system, and each has its pros and cons. Here are some screenshots showing how they look to students. The Activity Completion feature is shown on the left and an example Checklist activity is on the right:

Activity completion checkboxes in Moodle Moodle's Checklist activity

If you want to start with the simplest, then opt for Activity Completion. All that is necessary is for you to turn this on for the course, and once you do that you’ll see an Activity Completion section for every activity and resource that you add, in which you can decide how the item is marked complete or turn it off for that item. For those items in which you enable Activity Completion, a box will be shown next to it on your course homepage that will get checked once the activity is complete based on the criteria you have set for it. Once you’re comfortable with Activity Completion you may want to look into Checklists. I’d be happy to help you with these or any other game-like elements that you are considering. Come by and let’s talk!

References

Dicheva, Darina, et al. "Gamification in Education: A Systematic Mapping Study." Journal of Educational Technology & Society 18, no. 3 (July 2015): 75-88. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed September 21, 2015).

Ejsing-Duun, S., et al. "Gamification of a higher education course: What's the fun in that?" Paper presented at the European Conference on Game Based Learning, (2014). ProQuest (accessed September 21, 2015).

"Gamification in Education and Libraries." Library Technology Reports 51, no. 2 (February 2015): 20. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed September 21, 2015).

Gregoire, Carolyn, “What Playful Animals Can Teach Us About the Biology of Fun.” Huffington Post. January 9, 2015. (accessed September 21, 2015). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/09/the-biology-of-why-play_n_6424248.html.

Kapp, Karl M. 2012. "GAMES, GAMIFICATION, AND THE QUEST FOR LEARNER ENGAGEMENT." T+D 66, no. 6: 64. MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed September 21, 2015).

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