Gamifying Education: Motivation and the Implementation of Digital Badges for Use in Higher Education

Gamifying Education: Motivation and the Implementation of Digital Badges for Use in Higher Education

Julie A. Delello (The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, USA), Harmonie Hawley (The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, USA), Rochell R. McWhorter (The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, USA), Christine S. Gipson (The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, USA) and Belinda Deal (The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2018100102

Abstract

This article describes how gamification in education through the use of digital badges has emerged as a means to motivate and reward student learning. This exploratory, multi-case study looked at the motivations and perceptions of 90 higher education students across four disciplines, regarding the use of digital badges as an incentive for either a performance-related task or for student effort. Survey findings suggest that although students found the badges motivating, learning the course content and the overall course grade were more important to them than the tangible reward. The successful implementation of digital badges in higher education requires advanced planning to promote awareness of the usefulness of digital badges with students.
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The MacArthur Foundation (2017) defined a digital badge as “an assessment and credentialing mechanism that is housed and managed online. Badges are designed to make visible and validate learning in both formal and informal settings, and hold the potential to help transform where and how learning is valued” (para. 1). Simply stated, a digital badge is a reward but also a visual symbol of ones’ credentials (Otto & Hickey, 2014). According to Delello and McWhorter (2015), a digital badge is comprised of micro-credentials including the purpose of the badge, the date the badge was awarded, who issued the badge, and who earned the badge. Digital badges are verifiable, stackable, and portable for sharing across social media sites (Mozilla, 2016). In addition, the ability to display digital badges may “induce competition among badge earners” (Schenke, Tran, & Hickey, 2013, para. 8).

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