Coursera Gamification 2012 Assignments
In this MOOC we had to do three written assignments that were peer graded:
- Assignment 1: Why could gamification be a useful technique for a company trying to get more people eating their breakfast products? (300 words)
- Assignment 2: How to motivate city employees to do more for their fitness? (500 words)
- Assignment 3: Use the proposed Design Framework to come up with a gamified system that helps a publisher (GDP) to sell more ebooks. (1500 words)
Task: Why could gamification be a useful technique for a company trying to get more people eating their breakfast products?
Based on the content of the lectures:
In general gamification can be used to motivate people to do a certain behavior, in this case, it would be applied in the external domain of gamification to improve marketing (promote the pastries), sales (sell more than the 10% market share they have), and customer engagement (to lock in the market).
Games are common in the target group so adding game-like elements to the product should appeal to them. The average gamer is 30 years old (within the 18-35 age bracket), 47% of game players are women (65% of the target audience), and according to Mr. Gordon they see the world through the lens of a game.
In particular, gamification could be used to achieve the following goals of the company (following the Dodgeball vs. Foursquare discussion):
- Close the engagement gap and get more people than the 10% market share to buy ready-to-eat pastries.
- Give the customer more choices than the (limited) taste-range the pastries offer by adding virtual game-like elements.
- Add a sense of progression that goes beyond eating (the same) pastries every morning.
- Add a social element by making (the probably solitary) breakfast public, share for example the experience you have when eating the pastry or the place where you are with friends. Given that most of the target audience are women and women seem to prefer social casual games this is an important aspect.
- Making breakfast (which is likely to be skipped) into a habit, in contrast to the current behavior of skipping breakfast by adding game-like activities that depend on eating the pastries.
- Associating a fun game-like activity with eating pastries can positively influence the appreciation of the pastries and break up the association with "the typical cereals of their youth".
Task: How to motivate city employees to do more for their fitness?
Goal: Help most employees to establish a habit of healthy eating/physical activity -- i.e., establishing intrinsic motivation.
The basic idea is a website/service similar to Fitocracy with its focus on SDT (competence, autonomy, relatedness), but with crucial differences given this is an internal gamification project:
- focus also on nutrition
- tied into the local "playing field" => employees are local and so:
- can point out activities/places for healthy eating/sports more specifically
- can change the environment, e.g., by improving the quality of food or the stuff in the vending machines
- asking people to participate (opt-out instead of opt-in, cf. behavioral economics)
- can use strong extrinsic motivation if needed, BUT diagnostic done first (see what people do) to determine not only fitness level, sports done/how well, nutrition style, limitations (disabled, special diet), but also motivation (to avoid over-justification effect)
Similar to Fitocracy the system/website:
- conveys that it is about individual improvement which everyone can do (15 min walk for obese person might be sufficient in the beginning, many cannot do "real" sports (many fail guidelines), i.e., has to start easy for them/include nutrition; competence)
- provides choices in sports, activities, nutrition, sports partners; locally offices get vending machines with sponsored healthy products; alternatives shown on local map (e.g., restaurant with healthy food, available sports places) (autonomy)
- uses information about sports done by employees (indicated by badges) to facilitate search for sports partners/groups; uses similar/slightly better levels of competence as guide (zone of proximal development); family members can become attached to the program; quick "want to do sport x" search (relationships, cooperation; relatedness)
- uses progression/levels/points/achievements to indicate real-life personal improvement (competence)
- uses challenges to establish habits (e.g., beat streak of x days "healthy" behavior)
- uses badges to indicate sports done/nutrition knowledge (intangible reward, based on expertise; indicates whether person wants to show sport/give info to beginners; relatedness)
The system is tied into the motivational spectrum of SDT (groups specifically targeted due to diagnostic to avoid over-justification effect):
- amotivated: using loss-aversion (behavioral economics): they risk higher pay deductions for health benefits if they do not participate, are allowed to do sports during work time as part of "physical therapy" (trainer comes into the building), basic health (fitness, nutrition) is tied into promotions
- extrinsic: some push, e.g., badges if they start with a sport/social support, tied into status, but quickly moving from engagement contingent (time off when start sports) to completion contingent (did sports long enough) to performance contingent rewards (personal improvement)
- intrinsic: besides access to the system, the only additional "reward" this group gets is being randomly featured in an internal newsletter/website (unexpected reward)
Formative evaluation is used to determine whether this intervention really works (e.g., some employees could compensate; behavioral perspective, it is one giant feedback loop).
Task: Use the proposed Design Framework to come up with a gamified system that helps a publisher (GDP) to sell more ebooks.
Based on the lectures and following Prof. Werbach’s Design Framework
Dedicated eBook reader (or Apps on mobile devices like Kindle reader for iPhone/iPad) provide functionality beyond paper books (cf. iBook Author with additional media, simulations, quizzes). They can be gamified to support GDPs business objectives and benefit the readers/players by improving the reading experience and motivation to learn. Reading is solitary, but knowledge construction benefits by discussing with others. The focus is on the experience of learning — helping players to do something hard: acquire knowledge/skills (i.e., learn) and apply it in their lives. If we can achieve this readers will hold GDPs books in high regard and help GDP achieve their business objectives.
Note: Keep two archetypical readers of GDP’s books in mind:
- a business professional who wants to improve negotiation skills
- a programmer who wants to learn a new programming language
1. Business Objectives
The objectives of this gamified reading experience for GDP are
- increase consumption/sales: (short term) by getting people to buy an eBook reader/app and GDPs books, (long term) sell more eBooks by improving reading experience and quality/reputation of the books
- improve distribution: building a meaningful customer relationship (long-term success).
2. Target behaviors
Given the titles (mainly business/educational) the overall customers’ goal is knowledge/skill acquisition/behavior change, i.e., to learn. We need to connect to players learning goal: understand the topic and become proficient/professional — and tie this to our business objectives.
Thus players/readers should
- buy reader/install App on their mobile device (sales/download figures)
- buy GDP’s books (sales figures; objective 1)
- register the book and create a profile (logfiles, objective 2)
- read/work through relevant areas of book/discuss the book/apply it to acquire knowledge/skills (logfiles, DAU/MAU metric; objective A)
- recommend book to others (virality measure)/buy further GDP books (sales figures/books per person).
3. Players (Target Audience)
Players are customers of GDPs ebooks -- with focus on business professionals/those interested in educational material we conclude:
- they are highly educated and technological literate (business professionals) or savvy (programmers) — ideal for eBooks.
- overall style of gamification elements must be serious, easy to navigate, immediately useful; smart, professional and elegant visual design (a few fun elements for programmers)
- system conveys idea that within “magic circle” of gamified system “not knowing” is okay, helping each other to understand is the most valued task (explain clearly/no trolling), it’s okay to be a beginner
- using Kim’s Social Engagement Verbs: probably "express" and "collaborate"
Gamified ebook should be sparring partner/companion/access to other learners to help them master something difficult: learn.
4. Activity loops
Gamification elements should motivate and support learning from GDP’s ebooks. Like a course the book provides overall structure and a “curriculum” that keeps readers together/gives them common ground in discussions.
Main Activity Loop: Reading and Understanding (discussing/applying)
An overview “table of contents” page allows the reader to mark the relevant chapters to read. Reading targets can be set for parts of the book to help readers stay on track. Choice is provided by showing which chapters can be read in any order (possible with non-fiction; autonomy/SDT).
Chapters contain quizzes, simulations, and engagement activities used to challenge and assess understanding. Readers get progress feedback (pages accessed, quizzes/tasks solved; competence/SDT) as badges on the overview page representing real achievement (performance contingent).
In book margins symbols indicate links to a discussion forum (open as full screen window), providing a discussion layer similar to talk pages of Wikipedia or questions at stackexchange. Links to specific threads are provided for each paragraph, chapter, book itself. Grayed out if empty, indicating that reader can start the first discussion. Readers can:
- discuss understanding problems/how to apply the content to their lives,
- share ideas/notes/additional material (e.g., current events related to book; relatedness/SDT),
- discuss applications of the book content that is too difficult to assess by computer.
Structure of stackexechange is used to incentivise prosocial behavior: Contributions promoting understanding of other readers are valued by upvotes, which lead to badges. Upvotes allow other readers to quickly find the most useful answers. The forums are ‘seeded’ with first postings by the proofreaders/lector of the book.
This process ensures that readers get useful feedback after reading (action) and are motivated to continue.
Main Progression Loop: Becoming Proficient and Professional in the Current an Other Topics
Onboarding: After buying the book (e.g., advertisement) the reader can register and personalize the book. This ensures that the reader becomes known to GDP and that all data (notes, highlights) are synced/secured. A matching between goals/experience of the reader and the content is done (via a quiz, depending upon which suggestions are made). The overview page allows newbies to see what is interesting, track their progress, quickly navigate and continue reading. During reading, the reader can access additional information/forums (relatedness), show/get feedback on competence by solving quizzes and simulations/tasks (indicated by badges for chapters; competency).
Advanced readers: Badges can be earned for prosocial behavior in the forums. Challenges become harder, from referring to one chapter to whole sections or including engagement activities (e.g., larger app to program; negotiate with 10 traders at a flea market). Results of these activities can be shared in the forum for feedback. Readers can take part in peer grading training to improve giving feedback in the forums (receive badge; these postings get bonus upvotes).
Experienced readers: Have mastered the content and can play an advisory/mentoring role in forums helping others to understand. They can look back on what they have learned after a few months to share what to take into account in the long run. They get suggestions for more advanced books or books that improve skills they are lacking. The books of the publisher tie together like game series so GDP can show which books complement the knowledge.
Fun here is mostly hard fun — from problem solving, overcoming obstacles, teamwork to solve difficult problems together (forums), recognition for good work by other learners, sharing, customizing the book, and completing the tasks. While some extrinsic behavioristic rewards like badges are used they are given for achievement (i.e., they have meaning) or for low level activity loops. Progression works mostly due to intrinsic motivation (and lead to increased competence due to knowledge/skill acquisition; relatedness in seeing meaning in the task and social in the forums; autonomy by having choice what to read or do). Note that readers can also disable the whole gamified system — the system is voluntary, the reader decides what to pay attention to.
6. Appropriate tools
As written, game elements used are:
- constraints: book text not accessible during quizzes
- emotions: activities/simulations aimed to evoke surprise, interest, anticipation, optimism (that content can be mastered), joy, trust in the quality of the book, awe of the beauty of the topics
- narrative: implicit journey to acquire knowledge/skills
- progression: through chapters and books
- challenges: simulations, engagement activities, projects
- cooperation: with other readers to learn, feedback (what they have read/understood, via quizzes, simulations, trying out skills, etc. and other readers when the skills get to complicated for computers to evaluate)
- achievements: represented by badges (credentials, larger ones possibly tied into the Mozilla Open Badge Framework; localized badges depending on kind next to chapters, on book cover; all on profile page) (understood concepts, solved simulations, mastered book, trained peer grader, etc.)
- avatars: give option to maintain anonymity and to personalize the book
- boss fights: very difficult problem/simulation to be solved, e.g., hard program to write or simulation of business task
- quests: series of problems to solve/simulations to master
- gifting: provide opportunities for other readers, e.g., train counseling with people of one's own network
- social graph: by seeing who also reads the book (like online dating: online/reading now, within the last x days)
This gamified system makes the ebook superior to a paperback and should lead to increased sales (consumption) and direct contact to the readers (distribution). More importantly from a social good perspective it will enhance learning.
Formative evaluation will show whether these goals can be reached and readers actually accept the game elements in the ebook. While heavily inspired by MOOCs the author still decides what is important to learn and together with the developers of the quizzes/simulations/engagement activities in the book and the discussion forum ensures that readers learn in a game-like fashion.
As Thoreau said: "A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint ... . What I began by reading, I must finish by acting." With gamification we can achieve this for more people: helping them to learn in a game-like fashion, use the acquired knowledge/skills in their lives, while ensuring a large and accessible customer base for GDP.