Connecting dots of digital learning

Gamifying Learning with Moodle (#GBL)

Think Moodle is an old and boring LMS, think again! There are quite a few emerging platforms aiming to facilitate “gamification of education”, but who can resist our old brother Moodle who is free, open-source, community-driven and has caught up the trend of gamifying learning.

Badge, badge, badge

From Moodle 2.5 and after, it’s possible for site administrators and course teachers to award Badges to learners. These badges can be awarded either manually or set to be awarded automatically based on certain criteria. Are badges only about childish show-off ?

Mozilla open badge

The Mozilla Open Badges (Open Badge Infrastructure or OBI) project is a program by Mozilla that issues digital badges to recognize skills and achievements. The badge structure allows one to display real-world achievements and skills which may help with future career and education opportunities. To learn more about what and why of open badges, Gavin Henrick’s presentation is a clear resource.

To answer the basic question about gamification of learning, this presentation gives a nice introduction on what and why.

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Tools that support game(story)-based learning design

Teachers have be striving using a combination of tools to gamify their course design, but Moodle has already offered the major tools needed for this purpose so that all the learning data and activities are organized efficiently.

Level up by passing assessments and participating

When using “Topics format” for course format, the sections of your course can become levels of your design. By setting “Hidden sections are completely invisible”(under Hidden sections) and “Show one section per page”(under Course layout), then each level(section) will have its own distinct identity and set of resources, next level will automatically revealed after learners level up. Under Student progress, choose Enabled, control via completion and activity settings for Completion tracking. Then in each level(section), you set up different activities you request learners to do. In the summary settings page, under “Restrict access / Activity completion condition”, select and set up the criteria for passing the level.

  • Leveling up by completing an assessment: you can ask learners to pass an assessment to level up, you can set a minimum grade to unlock the next level
  • Leveling up by participating collaborative activities: you can request learners creates a new forum post, and replies to another forum post, in order to level up  (add Forum to your section, under Activity completion, select the checkboxes of “Require discussions” and “Require replies” with the numbers you assign, and select “must be marked complete” in the Forum you choose under “Restrict access / Activity completion condition”)

You can set up Group assignments, but in order to do this you must first make sure that your course is set up in Group mode within the course settings first. An add-on “Group choice” will allow students to put themselves into Groups so that the teacher doesn’t have to.

Lesson module allows branching learning/story paths

The Lesson allows you to make branching pages for students where they are taken to a different page according to a decision they have made in the lesson. Students will see a Next button that takes them to the next page. It is kind of like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books and very useful for decision-making, role-play exercises or independent learning. This is the major tool for structuring the learning adventures.

  • The Appearance section has a lot of settings you can choose to customize the lesson, including a File pop-up where you can add a file that you want them to read or a video or photo you want them to view prior to the lesson.
  • A Progress bar, a left menu; the lesson can be displayed as a Slideshow.
  • You can set specific Availability with a Deadline and Time limit (minutes) and make it password-protected.
  • You can Grade your lesson, or not. You could also allow them to re-take the lesson and decide how their scores would be affected (mean or maximum).
  • You can also make the lesson Dependent on a previous lesson or activity in the course.
  • The Moodle Book module provides an easy way to create multi-page resources with a book-like format and navigation from previously created web pages.  Because this module allows one to import individual web pages or folders of web pages, it is useful for group work. Users can choose to print books or have a PDF version for offline reading on their Ipad, e-reader etc.
Probing learners’ feedback or crowdsourcing the course(game) direction

choice activity lets the teacher asks a question and specifies a choice of multiple responses. It can be useful as a quick poll to stimulate thinking about a topic; to allow the class to vote on a direction for the course. Choice results may be published after students have answered, after a certain date, or not at all. Results may be published with student names or anonymously.

  • As a quick poll to stimulate thinking about a topic
  • To quickly test students’ understanding
  • To facilitate student decision-making, for example allowing students to vote on a direction for the course

This feature can aid the design of gamified course design, for example Alternate Reality Game (ARG), learners can influence the learning direction so that the learning experience will be more engaging, dynamic and effective.

Moodle supports connecting to IMS LTI tools

The External Tool activity module enables students to interact with learning resources and activities on other web sites. For example, an external tool could provide access to a new activity type or learning materials from a publisher, and of course, learning games.  Tt is also possible to pass over some extra custom parameters which can be used to display one particular resource.

To create an external tool activity, a tool provider which supports LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) is required. A teacher can create an external tool activity or make use of a tool configured by the site administrator. The external tool can pass grades back into Moodle.

External tool activities differ from URL resources in a few ways:

  • External tools are context aware i.e. they have access to information about the user who launched the tool, such as institution, course and name
  • External tools support reading, updating, and deleting grades associated with the activity instance
  • External tool configurations create a trust relationship between your site and the tool provider, allowing secure communication between them
Workshop activity facilitates peer assessment

Without doubt, peer assessment is a higher level learning activity because learners practice evaluating each other’s works as learning evidence. While doing this, learners are evaluating and reflecting on their own learning as well. The Workshop activity module enables the collection, review and peer assessment of students’ work.

Students can submit any digital content (files), such as word-processed documents or spreadsheets and can also type text directly into a field using the text editor.

Submissions are assessed using a multi-criteria assessment form defined by the teacher. The process of peer assessment and understanding the assessment form can be practised in advance with example submissions provided by the teacher, together with a reference assessment. Students are given the opportunity to assess one or more of their peers’ submissions. Submissions and reviewers may be anonymous if required.

Students obtain two grades in a workshop activity – a grade for their submission and a grade for their assessment of their peers’ submissions. Both grades are recorded in the gradebook.

In Moodle, you can use scales to rate or grade forums, assignments, quizzes, lessons, and workshops. These scales can be used by anyone who is grading or evaluating a student’s work. For example, if a workshop is being graded by other students, then the students can use the scale selected by the teacher to grade that workshop.

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