Failure and what I learned from failing – A course re-redesign

Howdy folks,

Today, I want to introduce myself as someone who tried educational gamification and failed. And as someone who read the amazing book “Learning Paradigm College” by John Tagg and was much influenced by Tagg’s thoughts. But let’s begin with the beginning…

English: University of Cooperative Education (...

Duale Hochschule Karlsruhe/University of Cooperative Education Karlsruhe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For my studies (Applied Computer Science), I wrote two 30 page papers (called “Studienarbeit”). Both are about redesigning the 1 year-long (2 semester) Software Engineering (SE) course in the Bachelor program for Applied Computer Science at the Duale Hochschule of Karlsruhe (DH).

The first one is about gamifying this SE course.

Most important ideas were:

  • Using a Map (see image below) where students could choose their way through the material (autonomy).
  • Providing students with a profile with a progress bar (feedback).
  • Giving Experience Points (XP) for completing tasks.
  • A Marketplace for creating and joining projects for the second semester.
Map providing students with autonomy to choose their way through the learning material

Map providing students with autonomy to choose their way through the learning material

Problems with this course design encountered in collected student feedback were:

  • Early release of the prototype had as a consequence that students were likely to find it buggy and feeling like guinea pigs (subjects of experiments).
  • The course design had too little focus on grades for a grade-centered environment like the DH.
  • Games seem to have a connotation as inefficient and not having the same value as work (sounding a bit like “Man, I’m serious and hard working, not just playing around!”).

So feeling quite frustrated, I said to myself “If you want hard work, you get hard work and if I only get you hard working by regular grading, let’s have a try!”.

This led to the second paper about implementing a Flipped Classroom for SE course:

Most important ideas were:

  • Diverse kind of tasks for students to avoid “reproduction-only” tests and increase learning efficiency (see image “student activity over lecture time (minutes)”).
Student activity over lecture time (minutes)

Student activity over lecture time (minutes)

  • Team work from the beginning to facilitate students keeping motivated and moving.
  • Regular grading and feedback for students on almost every task (see image “Possible points (sum) over lecture number”).

    Possible points (sum) over lecture number

    Possible points (sum) over lecture number

This design will be used in the next SE course starting in October 13. I’m already excited about how it will be perceived and rated by the students. I hope that the regular grading will avoid that students do not take the course serious just because it feels less like a lecture they are used to. After reading John Tagg’s amazing book, I thought that if we add enough feedback to every grade so that students can get better and better, it could heat up the learning environment a lot.

Do you have any ideas or comments to share on one of the papers? Or do you have any questions about one of the papers? Waiting for it in the comment section!

By the way, I wrote a shorter paper about the second paper and won a trip to Russia in September 2013 to participate in the IGIP conference. I’m looking forward to that adventure…

Have anyone ever been to Russia? Would be great if you shared your experiences with me!

I will write about the Russia trip and the conference and the Flipped Classroom for SE course after my conference participation. So if you already have questions concerning one of this three topics, let me know! Thanks in advance!