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3 Key Lessons I Learned in 5 semesters of College Course Gamification

Back in Spring, 2011 I decided to implement gamification for my Social Media Innovation course at Temple University Fox School of Business. Each semester I’ve add more components or tweaked the implementation of our Social Media Innovation Quest.

Students can instantly earn points and badges for creating a blog, creating blog posts, commenting, and a handful of surprise WordPress-related activities. There’s also several dozen more complex activities they can submit for review, with those achievements being granted every 24-48 hours.

Badges used in Fall 2012

Badges used in Fall 2012

The class website displays a leaderboard with the twelve highest scoring students. Finally, at the end of each weekly class meeting students an even larger list of students are recognized for “leveling-up.”

Here are three key lessons I have learned through student feedback.

1) Students report that the experience is fun and motivates them to do more work:

It adds an extra element of fun, which I think engages class more so than not. Definitely not time wasted.

I think this approach works well. I know for me personally it pushes me to do more activities and comment on posts more. I am not sure why that it but it does make things a little more competitive.

There is a lot of information and tasks to be done in this course. With that said I enjoy the gamification aspect of it because it gives these tasks we need to complete a sense of urgency and fun.

I loved this course and I enjoyed everything about it. … After learning how to get the information it was definitely motivational to see your name on the leader board even if it was for just a week or two.

I really enjoyed the gamifying of this course. It motivated me to be more up-to-date with the course materials. I just think it’s a nice little morale boost to have this kind of approach to a class. Although I’m not at the top of the leaderboard, it’s still fun to see how far I’ve come along. Gamifying also helped me become more proactive in my work.

The gamifying approach this course took made it so much more enjoyable for me to learn as a student. Not only was I learning, but I was earning points while learning the content.

Don’t change anything. This has been my favorite course at Temple. It was so enjoyable that the class came to be a hobby of mine.

2) The biggest boosts to motivation come from competing with other students, a sense of accomplishment, and recognition.

I wish more professors would gameify their courses. Gamification enables students to be academically competitive without accessing each other’s grades, and it’s my belief that it encourages students to participate more.

I think it adds a little more fun to the class. Although it isn’t something that I feel like I need to check every day it is a cool feeling to get points for assignments. I always get a little excited when I get an email that I unlocked an achievement.

I really like it. I like classes where I am able to turn things in on my own time. I am good at setting my own pace, so I was extremely successful at completing all of the projects in a timely manner without having to cram. I think gamifying the course is a great idea because it lets you know how you are doing compared to the rest of the class as well as who’s blog to check out as an example of an activity.

I personally like the gamifying approach because this particular course involves a great deal of outside the classroom work. Virtually all of our assignments are digital, so providing an interactive feedback system that keeps the students attention is helpful.

The badges helped me track what I had done and also provided reassurance that what I had submitted was received.

I very much enjoyed the freedom and flexibility that was offered with this class with the incentive that came from the Quest. It encouraged me to be a bit more aggressive, and who doesn’t like getting class recognition for your hard work?? 🙂

3) There is a small percentage of students who do not find gamification motivational. (My best estimate is this is up to 5-10% of the students who have taken my course.) Even then, their view tends to be more neutral than negative.

I don’t like it because I am not into gaming but; I do appreciate your attempt to explore new options in order to keep up with technological trends. However, I don’t think you should do away with it in the future if it helps to engage students who otherwise wouldn’t be.

Honestly I didn’t pay much attention to it. I had so much else to worry about that being on a leader board didn’t seem to be the top priority for the class. My main goal was to complete the assignments I had to complete.

In summary, it has been a rewarding experience to gamify a college course. I think there is great potential for adding gamification to classes, particularly when coupled with self-directed learning.



  • This post is an update to an earlier description of the Gamification of MIS3538.
  • The quotes are from students who took the class in Fall, 2012 and represent a full cross-section of performance (e.g., low-, medium-, and high-achievers). Average class size has been roughly 50 students per semester
  • Press coverage of the gamfication of this course is available here.

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