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Kaplan Study: Gamification and Badging Succeed in the Online Classroom

Kaplan University's School of Information Technology is expanding its gamification and badging efforts following positive results from a recently conducted pilot program.

The initial pilot project included 30 students and resulted in the published findings of Dean DeHaven both at the Techonomy conference in November 2012 and via the article "Why Gaming is Working in Higher Education," which DeHaven authored for Techonomy.com.

Since, the initial pilot program has grown to include more than 700 Kaplan University students and will now branch from primary use in the School of Information Technology to the School of Business and beyond, according to Kaplan. The results of the pilot program in terms of engagement and performance are described as "dramatic" by the university.

The "badging" aspect of gamification, using visual representations to stand for an achievement or accomplishment, yielded increased student engagement of up to 17 percent in time actively engaged over non-badged counterparts, according to program findings. Also, when harder tasks were added to the courses, 60 percent of students elected to complete the more difficult assignment to earn the related badge.

Grades increased as well in gamified courses, with up to a 9 percent increase in student marks. Increases were also seen across the board in class attendance and discussion board posts for students in gamified courses, according to Kaplan.

"Keeping students engaged is critical to a successful learning experience, and we found that the skills gamification promotes could easily enhance our curriculum by encouraging more quality participation," said DeHaven, dean of the School of Information Technology. "Our top priority is to provide students with the best learning experience using the latest tools. If the end result is more motivated students while achieving better outcomes, we say let the games begin."

About the Author

Kevin Hudson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at sportswryter@yahoo.com.

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