Singapore Management University (SMU) and Gametize co-produced a pilot gamification program for Leadership and Team-building (LTB), a core module for freshman students. Our CEO, Keith Ng, a head teaching assistant in LTB five years back, tapped on the opportunity to improve engagements between the students, and first proposed in early 2013 to his mentor, Dr Rani Tan. The goal is to create a gamified experience that will ignite interest and build motivation before or during class, and instilling lessons learned as a lifelong habit.
After a year of planning , the GameLead application was made available in early 2014 on both web and mobile platforms to be accessed by students in the classroom and outside of it.
Each quest involved a series of simple challenges, such as photos, quizzes, and videos that prompted students to reflect on and apply what they have learnt in class. With every successive lesson of LTB, an additional quest was made available for the students to attempt.
An activity feed enabled students to view submitted responses by other classmates and vote for their favourite answers.
The application also facilitated active class participation, as well as enabling SMU and Gametize to collect feedback about this programme through itself.
The game structure and content of the app were wholly designed by 4 Teaching Assistants (TA), senior SMU students who previously took the LTB course. With the aid of head lecturer Professor Rani Tan, the TAs were able to design a gamified experience which incorporated course content.
LTB students were given a large degree of freedom as they were not given deadlines to complete the quests. Additionally, they had the option to influence their peers’ scores by voting on others’ answers.
Creating an Immersive Experience
The students recorded their participation in class discussions via one of the quests, and this encouraged them to look at other quests. Activities such as group discussions and photo challenges with group mates were introduced to bolster social interactions. TAs were actively involved in the promotion of the app during class. Supplementary content, such as videos, were provided in the weekly quests as bonus to help students learn better.
The students felt that content introduced through videos was interactive, interesting, and relevant to the theories learnt in class.
Motivation: Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Fatalistic
For some, the intrinsic earning of points and progression indicators acted as a strong motivators to complete the challenges. The top groups were rewarded with options to choose prime presentation slots to avoid clashing with their other school commitments.
In one of the classes (G1), the students were explicitly informed using GameLead (or not using it) will not deliver bonus marks/penalty to their grades (other than logging participation in class discussions), while in another class (G3), the TA left the answer dubious deliberately. G3 had the highest challenge completions, compared to G1’s lower activity, showing the importance of extrinsic rewards to get users onboard.
It must be noted that some students engaged in the unwanted behavior of not completing the game, seeing that they were nowhere near the top of the point-based leaderboard (a fatalist effect).
Room for Improvement
The use of GameLead via the mobile app was lower than expected. Students preferred completing challenges in the web app on their computers. This means that the accessibility of GameLead on mobile could be improved in order to keep these students engaged.
Certain students had expectations of a real game, partly due to the title of the app (GameLead). These students were also expecting more complex and entertaining gameplay. In the next run of GameLead or future educational apps, more game items such as virtual items or well-designed storylines could be included to improve on this gamified experience.
Our verdict: Successfully Gametized! But there are still things that we can improve on.
GameLead was designed to solve the problem of engaging students beyond the classroom, by providing a seamless and engaging experience through gamification. With regards to this objective, SMU’s LTB teaching staff and students found GameLead to be successful in achieving it, with 93.7% of students recommending the use of GameLead for future classes of LTB in our survey. Not a single mention of “fluff” was recorded in our survey responses.
Gamification in education is a fairly new concept, especially with the use of digital technologies. An iterative approach to improving GameLead based on the data is key to its continued success.
This post was contributed by Quek Keng Yong, Business Development Mentee @ Gametize
Keng Yong has been placed at Gametize to do a 6-month internship through the iLEAD programme of NUS Entreprise in 2014. He studied Business at National University of Singapore. In his spare time, he likes to ride a bike or play computer games.