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Join us for the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium, April 22-24, 2015 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Dallas, TX
CFP will open October 1, 2014

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Reclaim Learning: A Domain of One's Own
Keynoter Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington, shares innovations that support the ethos of open environments for online teaching and learning. 

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Save the Dates

22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Gamification and Faculty Development: Practices From a Pilot Program

Nakia Pope (Texas Wesleyan University, USA)
Lisa Hammonds (Texas Wesleyan University, USA)
Adeline Meira (Texas Wesleyan University, USA)
Session Information
April 9, 2014 - 2:30pm
Faculty and Student Development
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Applied Use (technology or pedagogy)
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Lone Star C4
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Information Session 2
Virtual Session
Best in Track

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University reports from a pilot program of awarding points and badges for faculty development.

Extended Abstract

The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Texas Wesleyan University is responsible for all areas of faculty development for the university, particularly in online course development, teaching, and technology integration. Like many faculty development programs, CETL faces the challenges of motivating faculty to participate and properly documenting faculty development success. The CETL is always striving to provide the best service and professional development opportunities for Texas Wesleyan University's faculty and staff. With the intention of promoting an active, relevant, and well attended repertoire of workshops, lectures, activities, and initiatives, the CETL is in constant investigation of innovative practices in teaching, learning, and professional development. One of the practices that sparked the interest of our staff and has recently gained a lot of attention in the teaching and learning literature is the practice of "Gamification."

Kapp (2012) states that:
"On its surface, gamification is simply the use of game mechanics to make learning and instruction more fun. It seems "fake" artificial or like a shortcut. It's not. Underneath the surface is the idea of engagement, story, autonomy, and meaning. Games give experiences meaning, they provide a set of boundaries within a "safe" environment to explore, think, and "try things out." Games provide motivation to succeed and reduce the sting of failure. You can always hit the reset button or strive to be in the championship game again next year - only this time you will win. Games are the ideal learning environment with their build-in permission to fail, encouragement of out-of-box thinking, and sense of control. The addition of game elements on top of traditional learning environment is a way of leveraging the power of engagement and imagination," (Preface xxi-xxii).

Texas Wesleyan University is a small, private university in a large metropolitan area. Despite this size, we have a wide array of programs - from a doctorate in Nurse Anesthesia to strong undergraduate programs in business to developing online programs in religious studies. This means a diverse faculty and faculty needs. Our institution also has an older faculty that is just beginning to see some generational turnover. How to motivate these faculty to participate in faculty development, particularly development related to online learning?

With the concept of gamification in mind, the CETL started a pilot program to explore the use of gamification for professional development at Texas Wesleyan University. The pilot began in the Fall of 2013 after a summer of planning and research. At the end of the fall 2013 semester, we will assess if the implementation of the system of badges and points positively affects participation in professional development activities. Points are assigned for each activity/initiative that faculty and staff participate in through the CETL. Badges will be assigned each time a certain amount of points is achieved for each activity. Badges will represent different areas of focus. To achieve each of the badges a unique number of points is required. The CETL currently awards badges for Blackboard expertise, online learning design, mobile learning, course design, and others. Participation and accumulation of points are updated weekly on the points leaderboard. At the end of each semester, CETL professional development awards will be given to those who finished first in the leaderboard, departments who had the most faculty/staff participation, as well as other awards. At the end of each academic year, points will reset. Badges earned though the CETL will be showcased in the CETL Blog. In addition, physical badges are given to each participant. These can then be included in tenure and promotion portfolios, displayed publically, or used in any other way the faculty wishes.

For the presentation at the SLOAN Emerging Technology Conference, we will outline the development of our system of points and badges, identifying key factors in the development process. We will also have a semester's worth of participation data to share, giving us a preliminary indication of the system's success. Faculty and administrators who are interested in gamification within the classroom or for faculty development would benefit from this conversation.

Participants will learn about the basic concepts of gamification, how those concepts have been applied to faculty development at a particular institution, the initial effectiveness of gamified faculty development within an institutional context, key elements to consider when implementing a points and badges system, and likely challenges .

As a concrete example of our system, we intend to award all session participants with a badge. In addition, we plan on asking session participants to complete several short (2-3 minute) exercises that illustrate key phases of the planning process as well as activities that can lead to points and/or badges.

Since this is the first semester of our implementation, we will only have preliminary data from our own institution to present. We believe, however, that this will be instructive not only for our own program but for others as well. Can a system of points and badges help motivate faculty and staff to participate in faculty development?
The CETL's efforts to implement a gamification environment is to promote engagement and satisfaction with professional development at Texas Wesleyan University. Depending on results of our initial pilot and available resources, we intend to expand this project to external platforms of recognition such as the Mozilla Open Badges program. With the integration between Blackboard and Open Badges as well as other platforms (such as, badges earned through CETL professional development will be showcased with a broader, more established, informal learning platform.

Kapp, K. (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Rehak, A., & Hickey, D. (2013). "Digital Badge Design Principles for Recognizing Learning." Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory., 20 May, 2013. Web. 6 Aug, 2013.

Lead Presenter

Nakia is Director for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas. Prior to coming to Texas Wesleyan, he was an Assistant Dean and Associate Professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Nakia's scholarly interests include educational technology, critical thinking, philosophy of education, and comic books.