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Once Upon a Tip… A Story of MOOCs and Gamification

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This paper discusses the future of MOOCs based on recent research and acknowledged affordances of videogame’s design. The interest in MOOCS for educational purposes has increased over the last few years, with researchers identifying key pedagogical features that make the success of these inherently powerful learning tools. However, low student motivation and high dropout rates have somehow changed the original expectations of many researchers, despite the MOOC user base doubling in 2015. So, in this study we survey recent literature looking for answers, and discuss the evidence gathered from specific MOOCs with over one thousand participants, namely, pioneering iMOOC courses at Universidade Aberta (the Portuguese Open University). Finally, we look at the gaming world and discuss some findings that may benefit the learning design of MOOCs, considering that, besides the huge appeal of these (free) courses, there are recurring shortcomings that we have to alleviate. We follow up on the tip that gamification, and other emerging strategies, such as social networking and digital storytelling, may be vital to assure a sustainable future for open education and MOOCs.

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Once Upon a Tip… A Story of MOOCs and Gamification

  2. 2. STATE OF THE MOOC The total number of massive open online courses offered between last year and this year has increased by over 2,000 new MOOCs (2016-17) overall enrollments in higher education are down -3.2% (2012-15) annual growth rate for enrollments in distance education courses or degree programs was +3.9% (2012-15) US Data from Babson, e-Literate, and WCET
  3. 3. MAIN FINDINGS US (2017) Finding 1: amid declining enrollments in higher education overall, private for-profits depopulate, while private non-profits rise in popularity Finding 2: while disparities widen between top and bottom ranked universities, a relationship develops between open online education and a quality education Finding 3: international universities begin to compete with MOOC offerings Finding 4: verifiable testing and certification become increasingly credible for proving skills-based education https://www.onlinecoursereport.com/state-of-the-mooc-report/
  4. 4. MAIN FINDINGS EU (2017) The uptake of MOOCs in Europe is maturing at a much higher level compared to the US. Financial reasons are the least important objective, only 17% of the institutions viewed it as (highly) relevant. Increase institutional visibility and flexible learning opportunities are seen as the most important objectives for HEIs. The majority of HEIs (66%) are not connected to one of the big MOOC platform providers (e.g., edX, Coursera, FutureLearn, Miriada X, etc.), but use other MOOC platforms. http://eadtu.eu/documents/Publications/OEenM/MOOC_Strategies_of_European_Institutions.pdf
  5. 5. THE BIG QUESTION Whether the privatized status of MOOC providers will close or overshadow the more free and open spirit with which they were created Main providers in the US are now charging fees for MOOCs and their other online courses… State of the MOOC 2017: A Year of Privatized and Open Education Growth (https://www.onlinecoursereport.com/state-of-the-mooc-report/)
  6. 6. 4 3 62 5 8 7 1 The projections for 2017 and beyond can be exponential (according to Class Central). More and more people are signing up for MOOCs every year. Coursera and Udacity launched short programmes in 2014, which are called Specializations and Nanodegrees respectively. The world’s largest MOOC had almost half million students (Understanding IELTS on FutureLearn, by British Council) The three bigest MOOC providers in the world are now Coursera, edX and FutureLearn. edX launched their Xseries programme (2013), which consists of a certificate gained from the completion of a series of courses. In 2015, Universidade Aberta started the first MOOC – called iMOOC – the first in Portuguese language (with 1100 students). This year at UAb project Aula Aberta started with eleven courses and has reached about 5500 students (registered). SOME HIGHLIGHTS https://www.class-central.com/report/moocs-2015-stats/
  8. 8. ECO PROJECT (EU)
  9. 9. FOLLOW-UP ON ISSUES High dropout rate, reported by most providers (80-90%); Lack of digital skills or online learning skills; Starting late or pausing during the course; Low student motivation and effective interaction with peers; Lack of support for social presence within the course; Need for a sense of trust among students; Low engagement with course materials and activities; Lack of scaffolding strategies to help students progress; Difficulties in promoting collaboration in small groups.
  10. 10. GROUP WORK GAMIFICATION SOCIAL PRESENCE STORYTELLING Points, levels, badges, rankings, leader boards and other game-like devices. These connect with storytelling, engagement, motivation and achievement. Stories that engage students with subjects and motivate studying, while acquiring knowledge, skills, beliefs and attitudes valued by scientific communities. Ways of building trust among students by sharing feelings, experiences, examples and ideas. The use of personal profiles and photos is encouraged. Collaboration in group activities involved in problem solving is supported, instead of the loose development of self-serving relationships. LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS
  11. 11. DIGITAL STORYTELLING Storytelling is based on a set of four elements that are still valid in the digital age, namely: • A narrator • A plot • A setting • Characters Digital media and resources are used in the construction of the story. If different media are used together the term usually used is Transmedia Storytelling There is usually a conflict of some kind. Some common types of conflict may include: • Conflict between one person and another or between groups; • Conflict between a person and the natural environment; • Conflict between an individual and the society. 11
  12. 12. CONTENT GAMIFICATION Game design elements in non-game contexts (Deterding et al., 2011): • Points: points are fantastic motivators and can be used to reward users/students across multiple levels or dimensions of a gamified activity. In general people love to be rewarded and, when interacting with a point system, they feel like they have gained something. • Levels: these are often defined as point thresholds, so the students (or users) can use them to indicate a higher status and have access to bonus content. • Challenges, badges, achievements, and trophies: the introduction of goals in an activity makes students (users) feel like they are working toward a goal. Normally, challenges should be configured based on specific actions and should include user/student rewards when they accomplish certain milestones with badges, achievements or trophies. • Leader boards or “high-score table”: in the context of gamification, high-score tables are used to track and display desired actions, using completion to drive valued behaviour. In intrinsic motivation terms, they are one of the most important features of a game, bringing the aspiration factor to the process. 12
  13. 13. GAME MECHANICS, DYNAMICS AND EMOTIONS Badges Avatars Votes Leaderboards Achievements Boss Fights Virtual GoodsGuilds Quests Rewards Progress Bars Skill Trees Experience Points Stat Points
  14. 14. MOOCS VS. GAMES In a game a returning player is always welcome, he doesn’t have to start over. However, a returning student usually misses relevant discussions and interactions in a MOOC. Recovery from a period of inactivity would be very complicated for a MOOC student, as usually the best strategy is to look for another course in a following date. A player in an online game can interact only within a group, as the players are organized in groups, and they can talk to each other within the game stage. In MOOCs communications are global and all participants must be in the same stage of the course. Otherwise there is some chaos in the interaction process and a great deal of empathy is lost. In online games there is usually some incentive for a player to return to the game every day (to increase score, improve results, etc.). In a MOOC the norm is usually a fixed schedule of activities that must be fulfilled in time to avoid loosing pace and place. But a time limit must always be present in MOOCs as in games. Global rankings and scoreboards are more common in games then MOOCs.
  15. 15. ONCE UPON A TIP...
  16. 16. GRAPHICS TEXT VIDEO Used in the form of figures, diagrams, flowcharts, and other graphics relevant to informatics. For the initial presentation of the course only... we tried to avoid “talking heads”. Course units are based on text with multiple choice and other types of tests. A system of points and a scoreboard are associated with these tests. COMPUTER SCIENCE MOOC
  20. 20. NEXT MOVES Incorporate appropriate challenges that are “doable” and “rewarded”, as in more traditional “problem-solving” strategies. Automatic classification of students into leagues according to their accumulated grades, as in a ranking table. Number of “likes” received during activities, as in social networks. Leader boards based on competition amongst “friends” rather than amongst random strangers to whom the individual user cannot relate. Online record of achievements, with issue of a badge reflecting the work completed to get it. Incorporate a serious game into a MOOC (e.g. Ingress and mobile learning). The MOOC itself is structured as a game. Instead of following a more traditional “lecture model”, take the most crucial elements of game design and apply them to MOOC design at macro level. (Tan, 2013).
  21. 21. NAU PROJECT Portuguese MOOC initiative - government supported project financed by EU funding.
  22. 22. THANK YOU! Jose.Bidarra@uab.pt