Coursera: Gamification Update – Week 1

The first week of the MOOC Gamification course I signed up for has come to a close, and I’m ready for Week 2.  In Week 1, our primary task was to view a series of 11 video lectures, broken into two groups, recorded by Professor Kevin Werbach, of The Wharton School.  In total, the lectures ran one hour and fifty-seven minutes, and each set was meant to be equivalent to an hour long classroom lecture.  The course is meant to be a pretty entry-level look at gamification, and as such, has no specific pre-requisites.  My initial impressions are that the material is appropriate for an introductory type of course, and subsequently, though the lectures have so far been pretty interesting and informative, the content is not very challenging.

In my initial post about this course, I mentioned there is some minor interactivity built into the lectures, such as the occasional break for a quiz question.  The quiz questions are of the sort that could probably be answered correctly even if the viewer hadn’t paid attention to the lectures, though, and the formal quiz to finish Week 1 had only five questions.  These questions did require that you’d absorbed information from the lectures, but the short length leads me to believe that evaluation of concept mastery isn’t a leading priority in delivering the course.  In my opinion, this element could have a huge impact on where this industry goes.  The idea of courses offered by prestigious universities for anyone to access online has instant appeal, for fairly obvious reasons, and while there are those of us that love learning just for the sake of learning, there are plenty of others that want to rack up certificates and proof of learning to add to a resume or show qualifications for a new job.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but I expect to see things like official certifications come for a fee in time as a means to monetize the industry.  While the concepts are so new, the major players are smart to create as open an environment as possible, to attract the widest range of participants and focus on data gathering to help inform the best future directions.

Because the content in week 1 is meant to be very introductory, providing definitions and examples of gamification and games, key differences between games and play, and a brief history of the concept, my hope is that the remainder of the course is more challenging and gets into these subjects in more depth.

As far as statistics and engagement go, our written assignments will be peer-graded, and they are only required for those of us that want a certificate of completion.  Our first written assignment should be released tomorrow.  Also, it looks as though participation jumped to 71000 people in the first few days, and results of the survey we took when we began the course have been posted.  There are students from at least 147 countries, 67% of survey respondents are between the ages of 22 and 39, 70% are male, and the US is most heavily represented with 32% of respondents originating here.  More than half of respondents are employed full-time, as opposed to other statuses, such as students enrolled in an institution.

I intend to jump in on the discussion courses this weekend, and will report back on any particularly interesting threads I find.  Wish me luck on my first written assignment, and in my second week in the course!

Massive Open Online Courses – Gamification on Coursera

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been in the news a lot lately, and Coursera seems to have an edge over other major competitors, at least when measured by the variety of courses currently available.  See below for a quick breakdown of courses and participating institutions.  I have long been a proponent of online education, and am excited to see where this industry goes, so I signed up for a Coursera course that started today.  The course is Gamification, and is being taught by Kevin Werbach, Associate Professor at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

I’m particularly interested in how data will be used and what the interaction dynamics will be in an environment like this.  The term “Massive” is part of the name of this category of courses for a reason.  Almost two weeks prior to the start of the course, Professor Werbach tweeted that he was amazed to see more than 50,000 registered students.

My first impressions today are positive.  After logging into the course, the information is well organized, and there are both discussion forums and wikis to encourage engagement.  At a glance, it seems approximately 300 primary posts have already been made in discussion forums, with hundreds of replies.  The discussion has a voting feature, which is useful and should allow us to focus on the most popular threads, which I imagine will be vital with the ridiculous volume of information that will likely be posted here over the six week span of the course.  Posts can also be tagged, which makes it simple to find a collection of posts on a given topic if tagging is used well.  Integration with the wiki feature could be tighter.  When I navigate to one of two wiki links, I have to log in again to view the content, and have no simple way to navigate back to the course site itself.  The wiki is labeled ‘Beta,’ so I imagine better integration will come with time.

As far as data goes, students were asked to complete a survey answering questions about demographics and the reason for taking the course.  I would love to see an analysis of that data at the close of the course, and hope there are further surveys to capture additional data points along the way.

After having watched the first two video lecture segments, I’m happy with the quality of the video, and like the fact that interactivity can be built into the lectures.  Occasionally, the video will pause to offer a simple quiz question, and the instructor seems to use a stylus to highlight elements on screen as he’s speaking.  It’s easy to navigate directly to the next video without having to “exit” the viewer, and the site design in general is simple, clean, and easy to follow.  Another interesting point to note is that in the spirit of free learning, there are no required materials to purchase to go along with the course.

I’ve joined in my first discussion, and so far, everything looks good.  I’ll be back with more thoughts as the course progresses.

Provider # Courses Participating Institutions
Coursera 120 Princeton University, University of Michigan, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, California Institute of Technology, Duke University, Georgia Tech, University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Rice University, University of California San Francisco, University of Washington, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Udacity 14  None, Udacity develops its own content
edX 7 MIT, Harvard, University of California Berkeley

Click here for an article that discusses all three providers.