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Badges? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges!

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Presentation given at the NJEdge 2012 Annual Conference. See for more information.

Text of Badges? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges!

Badges? We Dont Need No Stinkin Badges!

Badges? We Dont NeedNo Stinkin Badges!And Other Gamification Myths

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Who am I?Lead Instructional DesignerAt PSU since 1984Working on bringing best practices/uses of educational technology to Penn StateFounded the Educational Gaming Commons

The Educational Gaming CommonsGoal Foster research, teaching, and learning around educational games, virtual worlds, and simulations.StaffBrett Bixler Founder and EvangelistChris Stubbs ManagerElizabeth Pyatt Instructional DesignerWeb http://gaming.psu.eduFacebook -

The EGC (contd)ProjectsEngagement InitiativesOne-on-one consultationsVirtual Worlds Research and DevelopmentSponsoring presentations, guest speakers, etc.EGC LabInnovative space at PSU containing PCs, game consoles, and a variety of games, virtual worlds, and simulations

Some EGC Works

iStudy for Success! .Tutorials designed to advance students knowledge in areas that can promote overall academic achievement.


What is your level of knowledge about gamification?

What is your level of knowledge about digital badges?

Why are gamification and badges important to education?

How It All Started

This is StupidGamification is dumb.Badges are stupid!(Hes lying.)

What is Gamification?Gamification Games

What is Gamification? 2

Whats Going on Here?

How About Here?Foldit.An online puzzle game about protein folding.Scientists can use the results to solve real-world problems.Players get bragging rights.

Gamification DefinedGamificationThe use of one or more "game-like elements" or dynamics in a non-game context to improve engagement or change behavior.

Game-like ElementsPieces or mechanics that make up games.

Badges DefinedA digital badge is an online record of an achievement, the work required, and information about the entity that issued the badge.

What is this Important?Education is under attack!Costs of education are spiraling up.Employers want skills, not degrees.Open courseware.MOOCs.Badges.

The Barbarians Are at the Gate!And there aint nothin you can do about it!

Or can you?

A Vision of the FutureWhat will the future hold for education?

Back to the PresentLets look at gamification and badges in todays world.

Game-like ElementsOver 25 Elements ExistFrom MomentumBlissful ProductivityBonusesCascading Information TheoryCombosCommunity CollaborationCountdownDiscoveryEpic MeaningFree LunchInfinite GameplayLevelsLoss AversionLotteryOwnershipPointsProgressionQuestsReward SchedulesStatusUrgent OptimismVirality

AchievementsA virtual or physical representation of having accomplished something.Achievements can be easy, difficult, surprising, funny, accomplished alone or as a group. Achievements are a way to give players a way to brag.

ScaffoldingMatch the level of task difficulty to the current ability of the student.Cascading Information TheoryProvide just enough support so the student can accomplish the task. Remove this scaffolding over time.

Progressive ImplementationA series of tasks, from simple to complex, that lead towards the ultimate goal.

LevelsLevels are a system by which players are rewarded for accumulating points.Often features or abilities are unlocked as players progress to higher levels.Levelling is one of the highest components of motivation for gamers.ExamplesReal world Job promotions.In a game Earn enough points.A good use Use levels to show competencies.

Points & LeaderboardsPoints are a running numerical value given for any single action or combination of actions.Leaderboards allow one to display their earnings to the world.ExamplesReal world Grocery points.In a game Earn enough points.A good use Grade by points.

Marriage The Game?

ProgressionWhere success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks. Progress bars!ExamplesReal world Coffee cards. Buy 6, get one free.In a game - Progress bars and subtasks. As you level up, you receive power and better equipment, etc. Progression is powerful.A good use Show students where they are in a course.

StatusThe rank or level of a player. Players are often motivated by trying to reach a higher level or status.

If You Do This Right Flow!The ultimate motivational state, where hours go by in minutes. Achieved by balancing the learners current ability with the difficulty of the current challenge.

This Sounds Too GoodWhat is a potential problem with gamification?

What is it All About?Feedback! Its motivating.Timely informing the student of their accomplishments/failures.Games do it all the time!Behavioristic in nature.

Motivation?Defining it is an elusive prcess, as difficult to do as grasping a slippery fish in a dark cave.Heres the one I like:The term motivation in psychology is a global concept for a variety of processes and effects whose common core is the realization that an organism selects a particular behavior because of expected consequences, and then implements it with some measure of energy, along a particular path. (Heckhausen, 1991, p. 9).

Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic MotivationExtrinsic - From outside you.Intrinsic - From inside you.There is a controversy over gamification and extrinsic motivation - some say it weakens or crowds out intrinsic motivation.See Deci, Koestner, & Ryan (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin 125(6), 627-668.

Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation 2Extrinsic rewards may crowd out intrinsic motivation.Sometimes called the over-justification effect.Tangible rewards (bonuses) may be the most de-motivating.Unexpected rewards (at random) may be OK.Performance-contingent (do a job, get a reward) may be de-motivating if the reward is tangible (money) but OK if it is intangible (praise).

Self Determination Theoryand GamificationThree factorsCompetence I am accomplishing something.Autonomy I am in control. I am doing it because I want to. Meaningful choices.Relatedness I am serving a larger cause/social group/community. See Deci & Ryan at

The ARCS ModelBy John Keller - How do you gain it?Relevance Tie it to the leaners life experience.Confidence Build in learning success.Satisfaction Make learning rewarding.

But What About Those Stinkin Badges?

BadgesAn overt reward of achievement.Meant to be displayed for others to see.

ExamplesReal world Scouts.In a game Complete a task, earn a badge.A good use Mozilla Badges.

Badges 2A digital badge is an online record of an achievement, the work required, and information about the organization, individual or other entity that issued the badge. A digital badge "certifies" information that has been consumed and skills acquired by the badge earner. Digital badges can be used for assessed or non-assessed learning, as determined by the badge issuer.

Badges 3Example:A badge issued to people who are present at a workshop as an indication of attendance. One might also require some measurement of comprehension and retention (via a quiz or an assignment submission) before issuing a badge.

Open BadgesThe Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI) project was initiated by Mozilla to create a universal framework for badges.The Mozilla framework consists of three components:IssuerEarnerDisplayer

A Badge In Action

A Badge In Action 2

Displaying a Badge

Potential Benefits of BadgesEnhance Ones Digital IdentityProvide a more granular and complete picture of skills and learning history than a traditional degree.Provide informal certification, e.g., from clubs, work experience or online.Assist in third-party as opposed to individual validation. Signal skills and achievements to peers, potential employers, educational institutions and others.Recognize hidden skills - appropriating information, judging its quality, multitasking and networking that don't show up on a transcript.

Potential Benefits of Badges 2Enable Global PerspectivesAllow one to share skill sets with the world. This fosters flexibility and connections.

Potential Benefits of Badges 3Facilitate Better Instructional ManagementSupport better individualized learner support. Capture the learning path and history. Badges can capture a more specific set of skills and qualities as they occur along the way, along with issue dates for each. This means we can track the set of steps the most successful learners take to gain their skills - and potentially replicate that experience for others.Assist in accreditation. By capturing the learning path, meeting the documentation needs of accreditation agencies will be eased.

Potential Uses of Badges"Course Completion" badgeCertifies that an individual completed a certain course. "Competency-Based" badgesGives students a way to demonstrate competency derived from course offerings or non-class experiences, such as clubs."Honors" badge in a programDefine requirements to achieve honors and motivate students to perform."Event Participation" badgeFor participation in sponsored events."Community Membership" badgeTo establish that an individual actively participates or has participated in a given community. This can increase the size and participation in academic communities.

What is the main problem with digital badges?

Questions About BadgesBadge infrastructure