Coursera Gamification 2012 Assignments

In this MOOC we had to do three written assignments that were peer graded:

  1. Assignment 1: Why could gamification be a useful technique for a company trying to get more people eating their breakfast products? (300 words)
  2. Assignment 2: How to motivate city employees to do more for their fitness? (500 words)
  3. 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)

Assignment 1

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):

300/300 words(*)

Assignment 2

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:

Similar to Fitocracy the system/website:

The system is tied into the motivational spectrum of SDT (groups specifically targeted due to diagnostic to avoid over-justification effect):

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).

500/500 words(*)

Assignment 3

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:

  1. a business professional who wants to improve negotiation skills
  2. a programmer who wants to learn a new programming language

1. Business Objectives

The objectives of this gamified reading experience for GDP are

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

3. Players (Target Audience)

Players are customers of GDPs ebooks -- with focus on business professionals/those interested in educational material we conclude:

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:

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.

5. Fun

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:


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.

1500/1500 words(*)

(*)Coursera count