The healthy way of blending PBL with gamification

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    Dimitris NtouvlisDimitris Ntouvlis
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    PBL is considered a constructivist approach to learning in which students are given control with learner-centered activities and collaboration between them.
    They trigger their learning skills with the assignment of problems for solution; they need to identify, adapt and overcome. Proper gamification can be considered as an element of problem-based learning. The
    overwhelming success of the commercial game market has brought increased attention to educational game design.

    An important feature of a gamified learning environment is the integration of Experience points(XP) and the establishment of an online platform . These points could be used as “currency” for actions. For example, students facing problems with assignments could ask for hints and/or external guidance in the platform by redeeming XP points or gaining points for a correct reply on the platform.

    Competition in a problem-based educational environment can motivate students and can be leveraged by leaderboards that showcase the distribution of point totals which students have accumulated through various learning activities. However, this may put pressure on students who might feel akward or embarassed for their ranking and de-motivate them as a consequence. As a result, a potential suggestion could be the using of a system in which students see only the three students who are directly above them and below them. This would foster a healthy sense of competition without discouraging students who are performing poorly.

    Moreover, knowledge and progress could be tested through quizzes. Rather than presenting a set of seemingly unrelated questions, creating a narrative or quest that draws learners in and helps them see the consequence of their responses, makes the whole experience more playful and yielding.
    An alternative method is to have students complete a quiz in the online environment, and then come to class in their PBL groups, complete the same quiz, but now try to convince one another of the correct answer. Even wrong answers would earn some points since in PBL participation and brainstorming are more important than the outcome itself.

    Badges are a way to acknowledge student work and signal importance, style and even social display. For example, students might receive a badge if they achieve certain levels of success on assignments or if they do additional work, such as submitting a draft or sharing notes with another student. Certainly, each and every badge would come with the suitable amount of XP.

    In conclusion, gamification definitely provides a tool not only for teachers to track down progress easier but also to students, making them apply passion, labor and love to their tasks.

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