In pilot, online university used challenges and badges to spur students to work harder and improved grades by more than 9%.
Working with Badgeville, they came up with a series of badges to recognize productive behaviors, including some that the system awarded automatically, based on metrics such as time spent in class, and others bestowed by the instructor or by peers, DeHaven said. As a result, students who are doing the right things get a constant stream of reinforcement, he said.
"One difficulty with education -- at least with deep engagement with education -- is that feedback on learning is kind of loose," said Zach Bodnar, a producer from Badgeville who worked with Kaplan on the design of the program. "Typically, feedback that you're successful or not successful comes in the form of exams or papers." Gamification techniques help break up the long-term goal of success in the course into many smaller objectives, allowing students to focus on the next step in the series and get immediate feedback as they complete each activity.
"That way, I get that experience that I'm doing the right thing, and I'm progressing. The system keeps telling you, this is your immediate next step -- and the immediate next step is not go get an A, it's go find somebody you can help in the forums," Bodnar said.
Analysis showed the most successful students were also the ones who participated most actively and asked good questions, so driving that kind of engagement also drives ultimate success in the course, Bodnar said. Kaplan's courses are delivered asynchronously, but also include live online seminar sessions where students can ask questions.
The effort required to gamify a course includes analyzing patterns of successful behaviors and designing the right system or badges and rewards, as much as the technical integration, DeHaven said. "It isn't something you can just throw into a course and say it's going to work."
Although gamification is sometimes promoted as a way of appealing to young people who have grown up with computer games, DeHaven said the greatest payoff for Kaplan might be the positive effects for adults returning to school in their 30s, 40s or 50s. "Often, they're asking themselves, Can I make it in this class? Can I make it in the university? They really like the recognition and the confidence it gives them that they're being effective," he said.
Google in the Enterprise SurveyThere's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
CIOs Get Smart About BIIT’s tried for years to simplify business intelligence efforts. Have visual analysis tools and Hadoop and NoSQL databases helped? Respondents to our 2014 InformationWeek Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Information Management Survey have a mixed outlook.
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Nov. 10, 2014Just 30% of respondents to our new survey say their companies are very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and analyzing it to make decisions, down from 42% in 2013. What gives?