5352 words - 22 pages

International Journal of Information and Education Technology, Vol. 3, No. 1, February 2013
72DOI: 10.7763/IJIET.2013.V3.237

Abstract-Gamification is the use of game mechanics such as
rewarding points and achievement badges to engage target
audience and encourage desired behaviors. Gamification has
gained a great surge of interest in recent years as an effective
approach to engage existing users and attract new users to web
sites. In this paper, the use of gamification in engaging
Computer Science students in an online social network based
collaborative learning environment, called PeerSpace, is
discussed. PeerSpace integrates a suite of Web 2.0 tools that
promote stud ...view middle of the document...

While PeerSpace has been used by students with much
success both in terms of improving student learning and in
promoting a stronger sense of learning community and a
stronger peer support network [3]-[4], it has also been
observed that the student usage of PeerSpace is not as
Manuscript received October 15, 2012; revised December 14, 2012. This
work is supported by the CCLI-TUES program of National Science
Foundation under grant DUE-0837385 and a grant from the Sponsored
Research Program at Middle Tennessee State University.
Cen Li, Zhijiang Dong, and Roland H. Untch are with the Department of
Computer Science, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN
37132 USA (e-mail: Cen.Li@mtsu.edu, Zhijiang.Dong@mtsu.edu,
Michael Chasteen was a graduate student in Middle Tennessee State
University. He is now with Google Inc., Irvine, CA 92612 USA (e-mail:
voluntary and active as was hoped for. Even though there is a
group of students actively participating social activities in
PeerSpace by posting helpful, useful, and/or insightful posts,
and join in discussions, there are also students who
participate PeerSpace activities mainly because they are
required as part of the class assignments. Analysis of data
collected from controlled experiments show that there is a
direct, positive relationship between the amount of usage of
PeerSpace and the benefit gained from this learning
community [4]. The question for us is "How to better engage
the students in PeerSpace social and learning activities?".
This paper describes our approach to this question by
introducing game mechanics to promote the students‟
learning by encouraging them to:
 participate more in social and learning activities,
 develop a stronger sense of community, and
 be more willing to help each other on academic and
social matters.
The approach we took is called "gamification".
Gamification uses game mechanics, dynamics, and
frameworks to promote desired behaviors. Gamification
attempts to harness the motivational power of games and
apply it to real-world problems [5]. It is a new concept but
has received very warm welcome by many companies, such
as Google, Groupon, Photoshop, Pandora, FourSquare,
Zipcar, Steam, etc. These companies used gamification
features in their web sites to better engage their loyal
customers and to attract new customers to their sites [6]-[5].
In this work, we present how gamification may be applied
for education purposes to better engage Computer Science
students to participate in social and learning activities in an
online learning environment. A number of gamification
features were added to PeerSpace to reward the students for
performing social activities, help them make new friends by
playing turn-based games with different students, and to
engage in peer-learning and peer-tutoring activities.
Section II presents the background information of
PeerSpace and gamification used ...

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