Gamification as Design Thinking

Aaron Chia Yuan Hung
Adelphi University

Gamification, which introduces game mechanics into a non-game setting, has been considered a potential way to improve student learning, motivation, and engagement. Empirical studies of gamification often focus on students' outcomes and/or their perceptions of the gamified system while giving less attention to the rationale behind the conceptualization and design process itself. This article uses gamification as a lens through which to re-imagine a learning environment, drawing on design thinking methods of problem solving. Design thinking is an approach to addressing “wicked problems” that do not have simple, right answers. By using gamification as a form of design thinking, this article explores ways that gamification can help instructors take apart and re-configure courses that are challenging to design, using a graduate-level online philosophy course as a worked example. Readers are provided the rationale behind the iterative prototypes and the culminating reflection of the process. The article concludes by arguing that gamification's contribution is not limited to student outcomes and that it can be also be used as an innovative approach to course design.

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