Game-Oriented Online Learning with Digital Badges

“The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression… Whereas the clinical signs of depression are a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and despondent lack of activity, the feelings evoked by gameplay provide a stark opposite: an optimistic sense of our own abilities and an invigorating rush of activity.” (McGonigal, 2011).

As teachers and students struggle to adapt to and flourish within the new normal of online distance education, perhaps gamification--the application of aspects of games to other activities-- can provide a way to both effectively increase engagement as well as promote student ownership of their learning process. Proper use of gamification and badging creates the opportunity for an asynchronous learning process that honors student choice and pacing preference in addition to reframing assessment as a feedback-driven, mastery-centered process.

This session will be led by Christen Smajstrla, Audrey Stein and Isaac Chao.



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About Christen Smajstrla

Christen Smajstrla completed her Bachelor’s in Economics and is a current MAT student at Rice University. She is student teaching in World Geography at Heights High School, now leading both live online sessions as well as providing asynchronous instructional content. Christen is a two-year Charles Butt Scholar whose edTPA portfolio is being used as an exemplar for multiple Texas Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs).

About Audrey Stein

Audrey Stein is a PhD student in Learning Technologies at The University of Texas at Austin and Graduate Research Associate at The University of Texas System Administration. Her research interests include gamification, digital equity, and online communities of practice. She previously taught middle and high school science in Houston ISD and completed her MAT at Rice University.

About Isaac Chao

Isaac Chao teaches World Geography at Heights High School and is a coach in the Houston Urban Debate League. Isaac received his degree in Religious Studies from Rice University, and has since mentored many student teachers affiliated with the educator prep program within the Glasscock School.



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