New Designs for Learning: Games and Gamification

New Designs for Learning: Games and Gamification gathered instructional designers, faculty, and academic leaders from across the University System of Maryland to explore how games and gamification can reinvigorate courses, boost student engagement, and enhance student learning. The Symposium featured Dr. Karl Kapp as the keynote speaker, and it was cosponsored by UMUC’s Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success and USM’s Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation. 

This Symposium was made possible by a generous donation from Kate and Brian Ford.

Gamification Symposium attendees                          Karl Kapp - keynote speaker


College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center


September 29, 2016





7:30-8:00 am | Chesapeake B/C Foyer


8:00-8:30 am | Chesapeake B/C

Marie Cini, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Maryland University College

MJ Bishop, Director, Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, University System of Maryland


8:30-10:00 am | Chesapeake B/C 

Solving the Case of the Disengaged Learner | Karl Kapp, Director, Institute for Interactive Technologies and Professor of Instructional Technology, Bloomsburg University

In the academic world, the terms game, gamification and engagement are becoming hot topics. But is it hype or can “thinking like a game designer” actually enhance instruction and motivate learners? In this interactive, evidence-based session, participants will engage in an instructional event that demonstrates how to pull learners into the content and help them gain the knowledge required to be successful. Along the way, they will explore the definition of gamification, the research evidence supporting its use, and how gamification compares and contrasts with active learning. Come play a polling game and discover firsthand how this approach engages learners, increases learning, and leads to desired academic outcomes.


10:15 am-12:30 pm

Answer These 10 Questions and You Too Can Gamify | Leshell Hatley, Assistant Professor, Math & Computer Science, Coppin State University | Chesapeake B/C

In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the meaning, benefits, and challenges of gamification. Armed with this introduction, along with paper, markers, and other crafts, participants will respond to 10 prompts with ideas, descriptions, and drawings of components towards the gamification of a predetermined activity. Results can be shared for audience feedback. Participants will then devise and discuss potential methods for evaluating student performance of many resulting gamified activities and reflect on next steps. Participants should come with an activity in mind ready to gamify!

Resources: Hatley, L. ppt

How Do I Gamify My Content? | Karl Kapp, Director, Institute for Interactive Technologies and Professor of Instructional Technology, Bloomsburg University | Chasen Family Room

Using game elements to create interactive, engaging instruction doesn't have to mean investing hours and hours into the development of a full-scale Halo-type game. In this hands-on workshop, participants will prototype a gamified instructional experience to engage, motivate, and educate learners. In the process, they will incorporate game thinking and game elements such as storytelling, mystery, immediate feedback, and friendly competition or cooperation into their own instructional designs. Participants are expected to bring their own content and some imagination to the workshop.

Crafting Teaching and Learning Through Games and Digital Interactive Technology | Sujan Shrestha, Assistant Professor, Simulation and Digital Entertainment Program, Elka Cahn, Lecturer, Simulation and Digital Entertainment Program, and Michael Satzinger, Graduate Student, Information and Interaction Design Program, University of Baltimore | Room 2111/2112

This workshop is for participants interested in incorporating games and digital interactive technology as trans-disciplinary teaching and learning tools in the classroom. The workshop will focus on constructing meaningful connection to real-world challenges using technology and introduce several examples of “concept to completion” from game development courses at the University of Baltimore (UB). The workshop will also showcase student works from the UB GameLab, which compliments classroom learning by engaging students in applied research on games and emerging technology.


10:15-11:15 am | Room 2110

Gamification Easter Eggs | Janice Horoschak, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

Join me as we uncover five elements of gaming in a few successful video games and consider how these concepts can be applied to learning.

The Power of Narrative in Game Design | Christina Shinn, Manager, Art & Programming Teams, Learning Design & Solutions, Jose Olivieri, Programmer, Learning Design & Solutions, and Liz Cunningham, Content Compliance Specialist, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College         

What do these games have in common?

  • Call of Duty: You’re a soldier on a mission.
  • Angry Birds: The pigs have stolen the eggs. Destroy the pigs!
  • Final Fantasy: You have to fight the odds against a powerful enemy.
  • Dear Esther: No one knows what happened. Was there a car accident? Who is Esther?

They tell a story and immerse players in the game world. How do we adapt powerful narratives that resonate with players to designing games in higher education?

Intentional Design | Trish Briere, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions and Davina Bryant, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

This is a call to avoid gamification for its own sake. Design courses by reflecting on purpose and learning outcomes. Design first; tools & toys second!

Gamification and the Non-Traditional Student | Candice Binuyo, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions and Kim Devine, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

How can gamification appeal to non-traditional students? Are there any unique design strategies to consider for this audience? What does the existing data tell us about demographics? Is gamification more effective in certain disciplines for non-traditional students? We will look at what the current data shows as it relates to these questions.


11:30 am-12:30 pm | Room 2110

Let Them Eat Broccoli Cake! | David Dunn, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

This talk argues that there is an arbitrary distinction between what is fun and what is educational. Designing gamification is open-ended, creative, collaborative and deeply rewarding. Will players have the opportunity for the same level of engagement?

What Is “Fun”? | David Clarke, Multimedia Graphic Designer, Learning Design & Solutions and Wilson Cook, Programmer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

Fun is perhaps not always considered when talking about adult education. It may seem frivolous, but it’s not. As we consider the idea of gamification in education, we have to recognize the importance of designing for fun. But what is fun and how do we make sure our games and/or gamifications are fun? Using Raph Koster’s seminal game design book, A Theory of Fun, we will examine what is fun and how to design for fun in games.

Play as a Hurdle to Gamification | Brock Rough, Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Park

Gamification attempts to leverage the benefits that games enjoy and steer them to, supposedly, better ends. This talk raises and examines two main points: (1) When the focus of an activity is not play but something else, the sense of it being a game is lost, losing many of the benefits of gamification, and (2) The idea of gamification presupposes that games played for themselves, and not merely as motivational vehicles for other activities, are as valuable than the activity being gamified. Carefully considered accounts of games suggest otherwise.

Psychology of Game Motivation | Jessica McCarty, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

A basic behaviorist paradigm is a great start to making gamified learning motivating, but we can go beyond these basic concepts to consider individual differences in learners’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to create the most effective reward systems.


12:30-1:45 pm | Chespeake B/C

Have lunch with colleagues and then browse a selection of gamified courses.

Calculus II | Rajeev Walia, Lecturer, Mathematics Department, Towson University, Level: Lower Division

Based on student-expressed dissatisfaction with “active learning” (as opposed to lecturing), I learned that a balance must be struck between having group work and providing sufficient guidance through lecturing before group work begins. However, lecturing often poses the problem of losing students’ attention. I thought the best way to deal with this challenge in my math courses was to carry out lecturing and group work in an interactive game-show format, which can be easily applied to non-math courses.

Elements of Probability and Statistics | Justin Dunmyre, Department of Mathematics, Frostburg State University, Level: Lower Division

Unsatisfied with traditional grading structures, I incorporated a specifications-based grading scheme in my Elements of Probability and Statistics course. This scheme incorporated gamification elements including achievements, currency, and levels. Essentially, the course learning outcomes were turned into achievements: to unlock a particular achievement (which was called “achieving mastery”) required the students to earn passing grades on two assessments for that outcome. Passing was defined at a high level, 80% usually, with multiple opportunities to take assessments for each outcome.

Strategic Management | Bryant C. Mitchell, Associate Professor, Department of Business, Management & Accounting, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Level: Upper-division

Capsim business simulations engage participants in a dynamic competition to turn struggling companies into successful, profitable businesses. Classes are divided into teams that work together to focus on strategy, finance, production, marketing and all the key elements that interact to build their business. With each round of decision making— representing a full year for the company—participants build their business acumen and decision-making confidence as they interpret data, shape strategies and experience the results.

Interprofessional Education and Communication | Larisa Odessky, Lecturer, Graduate School, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Level: Graduate

Due to existing interprofessional education barriers, I incorporated a serious online multiplayer game as an activity for student collaboration. After the gamification session was conducted, I surveyed students to assess their attitudes and impact of the session. The students reported enjoying the activity and wanting more games incorporated into the curriculum. Gathering data was an important first step in the expansion of gamification in this communication course.

Human Resource Management | Liliana Meneses, Program Chair, Business and Professional Programs, University of Maryland University College, Level: Lower Division

Gamification elements can be incorporated into classroom activities without highly sophisticated programs or technology. We took a case study and converted it into an interactive game. The main purpose was to show students the impact of their decisions on a company’s bottom line. Seeing the company’s stock rise or fall seems to be a good visual reminder of that fact. The game is included in our introductory course and allows students to test themselves in all areas of HR, thus incorporating the element of self-assessment as well.

Community Health Nursing | Crystal Day-Black, Assistant Professor, and Earlene B. Merrill, Professor, College of Health Professions, Coppin State University, Level: Upper Division

A free-standing online terminal course aimed at producing a community of confident and competent student learners through a variety of student-engaged methods, but these met with student resistance and faculty frustration. Faculty recognized the “digital” student needed stimulation, realism, and entertainment, not more module readings and Powerpoint supplements. Thus the introduction of digital gaming and simulation. Gaming and simulation appealed to a variety of learning styles and proved to be effective in reinforcing learning and improving student learning outcomes.

Engineering and Aviation Sciences | Willie Brown, Assistant Professor, Ibibia Dabipi, Professor, and Lei Zhang, Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering and Aviation Sciences, and Weiwei Zhu, Assistant Professor, Department of Math and Computer Science, all of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Level: Lower-Division

At UMES, the integration of app development for safety instruction in engineering and aviation education through gamification has had an impact on students, faculty, staff and other support personnel in interacting with lab equipment using training procedures.


1:45-4:00 pm

Digital Badging as a Gamified Approach to Recognizing Student Achievement | Sherri Braxton-Lieber, Director of Instructional Technology, Division of Information Technology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Larisa Odessky, Lecturer, Graduate School, University of Maryland, Baltimore | Room 2111/2112

This hands-on workshop will provide an overview of digital badges, game mechanics, and strategies for integrating badging into your course to recognize students’ progress in achieving individual competencies within the course. Presenters will provide demonstrations of courses gamified using digital badges and describe the appropriate application of the various types of game mechanics available. Participants will interactively experience the rules of gamification and begin to outline how they might apply them in “badging” their own courses, with opportunities to earn badges throughout the workshop.

Resources: Braxton-Lieber, S. and Odessky, L. ppt

Role Playing Athens in 403 BCE | Shoshana Brassfield, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director, Center for Teaching Excellence, Sally Boniece, Professor, History Department, Eleanor McConnell, Assistant Professor, History Department, and Suzanne McCoskey, Associate Professor, Economics Department, Frostburg State University | Chasen Family Room

Participants will play a single condensed game session from the Reacting to the Past role-playing game “The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BCE,” one of a series of interdisciplinary role playing games that have been successfully used at Frostburg State University and colleges and universities across the nation. Presenters will share how they use role-playing games to create unforgettable learning experiences in both introductory and advanced courses in philosophy, history, and economics. (For more information about Reacting to the Past role-playing games, visit http://reacting.barnard.edu.)

Resources: Brassfield, S., Boniece, S., McConnell, E., and McCoskey, S. ppt


1:45-2:45 pm | Room 2110

Gamification 1.0: Using Gaming Principles in Class Activities | Liliana Meneses, Program Chair, Business and Professional Programs, University of Maryland University College

Certain elements of game design significantly increase the chances of developing a successful game (Stott & Neustaedter, 2013): (1) freedom to fail, (2) rapid feedback, (3) progression, and (4) storytelling. These four elements are also directly linked to pedagogical practices such as formative assessment and scaffolding, albeit under different names (ibid). By adapting these practices into class activities, educators can increase student motivation and achievement through a platform that is engaging and relevant in today’s digital world. 

Designing Interactive Scenarios with Twine | Wilson Cook, Programmer, Learning Design & Solutions and David Clarke, Multimedia Graphic Designer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

Twine is an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. Since it is free and comes with a visual composition helper, it is an accessible tool for faculty and staff to create interactive scenarios for students. Twine also publishes directly to HTML and can be easily distributed to students. This talk will cover the basics of Twine and include a demonstration of how it can be used. Twine is available online and for download at www.twinery.org.

A Vision for an Embedded Gamified Widget Engine | Felix Lehmann, Programmer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

This talk suggests building an engine to gamify embedded ungraded self-assessment questions used in online courses (“check your understanding” questions). In addition to instant feedback, a score would be displayed that diminishes over time from inactivity and questions would replace themselves after the user interacted with them.  Reaching a threshold score will reward the student with additional questions and the ability to add questions by themselves, among other unlocked benefits.  This can better engage students, bring about better content, and add new analytics opportunities.

Find Your Way in 3 Days Simtray | Trish Briere, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions and Davina Bryant, Instructional Designer, Learning Design & Solutions, University of Maryland University College

We will discuss how a responsive game is used as a learning object in the Cybersecurity graduate programs at UMUC.  These simtrays are timed, simulated, one-person activities that require prioritization of tasks that score based on that prioritization and other decisions.

Using Online Games and Apps to Cultivate Resilience in College | Jill Caviglia-Harris, Professor, Economics and Finance Department, Salisbury University

This presentation will explain the "FUEL" (Fueling Undergraduate Education and Learning) app we hope to integrate into a freshman year experience course at Salisbury University.  The FUEL app will teach lessons and support student habits and behaviors by targeting specific academic skills to foster a culture of success and resiliency.  The FUEL app will essentially gamify the overarching goal of completing college in four years and include three main components: (1) Remind Me, (2) Growth Games, and (3) Study Tracker.


For more information, contact Nancy O'Neill, Associate Director, Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation, at noneill@usmd.edu