Sponsor Videos

Software Secure

Keypath Education

Conference News

LinkedIn FaceBook YouTube GooglePlus www.instagram.com/onlinelearningconsortium


Download the Mobile App
IOS  |  Android
OLC Mobile App

Make your travel arrangements

Yoga with Jan

Add to my registration


American Higher Education in Crises book cover

Join keynote speaker Goldie Blumenstyk for a book signing.

Books are available for pre-purchase for $16.95 (+tax). 
Read more

Conference Program now posted! This year's line-up includes:


OLC Excellence and Effective Practice Award Recipients Announced


Add/remove sessions from the Program Listing on the website or in the mobile app to create a list of sessions you want to attend!

My Schedule

Join Keynoters Goldie Blumenstyck (Chronicle of Higher Education) and Phil Hill and Michael Feldstein (MindWires Consulting)

BYOD to learn, explore, and share knowledge within this lab environment

Test Kitchen

Save the Dates

22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

How Game Dynamics (Not Gamification) Will Save Higher Education

Kevin Bell (Northeastern University, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 10:15am
Technology and Emerging Learning Environments
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Research Study
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Oceanic 2
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 6

Gamification vs Gameful Design - breaking down concepts and themes rather than chasing the next big thing. How and why game elements will work in Higher Ed: Practitioner studies and implementable take-aways.

Extended Abstract

Gamification - the term - is becoming a lightning rod in higher education for many who are looking for the next big thing. If MOOCs weren't it, is it Adaptive Learning? Personalized Learning? or Gamification? - What's the magic bullet and where do I click?
Building on doctoral research carried out by the presenter at the University of Pennsylvania between 2012 and 2014, this session will demonstrate that elements common to intrinsically motivating online (and hybrid) classes, can be accentuated by reviewing, psychologically, they are doing and what effects they have on the learners. I will make the case that there does not have to be a golden bullet or a winner of the "Next Big Thing" award, but that engaging learning, as does engaging gaming, has traits that can be consciously built in to pedagogically sound, academically rigorous courses.

Gamification as a one-time, huge, vendor-enriching, expense, building out technology to offer up badges and leader boards, motivators as add-ons that provide no key intrinsic motivation for participants is unlikely to succeed. Spectacular builds of interactive simulations are prohibitively expensive for most institutions, date quickly and cannot be updated without more expense. The gamer generation is well aware that "Educational Games" typically fall short as "education" and are laughably inadequate as "Games."
Breaking down what makes games (and effective learning environments) intrinsically motivating, why we persist and keep trying while we want to quit twenty minutes in to some learning experiences is the basis of this presentation. The work of Csikszentmihalyi on engendering Flow is referenced and will be factored into the discussion(s).

I will pose the question: What aspects of successful game dynamics do we (or You, the instructor) already have, buried under the surface of low-tech classes and instruction? What elements might we amplify and develop by strategic use of instructor-developed, low budget, easily editable elements?

The underlying question the session will address is whether the application of select game dynamics to learning environments, even within traditional Learning Management Systems, might increase student engagement, time-on-task and outcomes including completion and persistence. The presentation will reference a number of case studies where instructor-practitioners implemented courses with game elements and how they performed with specific target demographics, including low Socio-Economic Status (SES), first generation and minority learners - demographics some are combining and referring to as the "New Majority Learner" Discussion will be facilitated as to how these treatments and the application of game dynamics might engage fragile learners and address access and self-efficacy issues including mindset and grit.

The doctoral thesis that ground this presentation was awarded a double distinction at Penn (the only double of the graduating class) and the contents are being reformatted to form the basis of an upcoming book. I mention this mostly to stress that this is an engaging presentation that has been extremely well received and that I am confident, will engage the OLC audience.

Lead Presenter

Kevin Bell serves Northeastern University as the Executive Director for Curriculum Development and Deployment and as Senior Fellow for the Lowell Institute Innovation Incubator.
Prior to his Northeastern appointment, Kevin served as Chief Academic Officer for the College of Online and Continuing Education at Southern New Hampshire University where he also led the academic development of the SNHU Innovation Lab’s College for America project.

Bell holds a BSc. in Analysis of Science and Technology from Manchester University in the UK, an M.A.T. from Marlboro College, and graduated from the executive doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent research centers on elements of course design that affect persistence and retention in online classes, with a focus on cognitive science, adaptive learning and gamification. He was awarded a double distinction for his dissertation at Penn.