Gamifying a College Course in Entrepreneurship

In addition to consulting with companies to help them develop training and e-learning for their employees, I also teach at Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. I teach a wide range of courses, one of which is Entrepreneurship.

In December of this year, my paper, Gamification: The effect on motivation and student performance at the post-secondary level will be published in the Journal of Issues and Trends in Educational Technology. I have been looking for an opportunity to implement gamification into some of the courses that I teach and gain first hand experience with both developing and implementing gamification. I have also been making a number of changes to my delivery model in my second year Entrepreneurship course. I decided that this was the opportunity. After a lot of research and planning, I developed a gamified unit on business operations for my course.

Choosing a Platform

The learning management system currently used at the college does not allow for gamification so I knew that in order to be successful, I would need a platform to manage badges, points, ranks, and levels. I have chosen 3D GameLab as my delivery platform. 3D GameLab offers a free trial account that allows up to 75 learners and one course. It utilizes quest based learning and allows learners to choose which quests they want to complete. There is a progress bar to allow learners to monitor their progress, and  allows for badges, achievements, and ranks.

Planning for Gamification

Planning for gamification was the most time consuming aspect of the development of this unit. I divided my content into six content areas and developed four to six quests (learning activities) for each content area from which students could choose.

  • Born Leader – Learn more about leadership and developing leadership skills.
  • Paper Pusher – Learn more about managing paperwork in your business.
  • Customer Service Specialist – Customers are the backbone of any business. Happy customers will share their experiences with their friends and coworkers helping your business to generate new customers. Unsatisfied customers will also share their stories. Learn more about the art of customer service.
  • Red Tape Expert – There are many government regulations that impact businesses. Learn more about these.
  • HR Manager – Learn more about managing and motivating employees.
  • Interior Decorator – Learn more about the physical set-up of a business space.

Quests ranged from watching a TED Talk and reflecting on the video, to identifying new resources, creating cartoons, reading articles and taking quizzes, writing article summaries, making videos and podcasts, and researching topics. My goal in developing the quests was to offer a wide variety of choice, one of the aspects integral to gamification, while appealing to a variety of student interests and learning styles.

Once I identified my quests, I estimated how much time I felt that each quest would take students, and established experience point (XP) values based on anticipated completion times. Due to the fact that at the completion of this unit I needed to be able to assign students a concrete grade, I decided to establish a XP point conversion table which I shared with my students. This will allow my students to choose what grade they want to earn.

Developing Badges and Achievements

For each category I established a badge which students could earn by accumulating 150 XP in a given category. In order to ensure that they cover all of the outcomes for the unit, I am requiring students to earn a badge for each category in order to complete or “win the game”.

I also developed a number of achievements that award learners bonus XP points. Some of these activities were for adding an avatar to their profile or providing feedback on quests while others were for completing specific quests. Some of these achievements were simply for fun while others to guide and motivate learners to complete quests which I feel are particularly good learning opportunities for students.

I introduced the unit to students this week. It will be interesting to hear their feedback and see how they respond.

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