Etec510: Design of Technology Supported Learning Environments

lamp icon


As an adolescent, I had always thought of the traditional methods for teaching computer science (CS) as asocial, boring, and off-putting; they were never intended for me. However, when I was introduced to Logo turtle microworld, the educator started a competitive game where we were asked to work in groups to build graphical designs of our choices, such as houses, cars, flowerbeds, etc. During the medium of a game, the fun and curiosity had eliminated the difficulty of syntax and mathematical manipulations and programming was enjoyable and creative. 

In the mean time, many youths are actively engaged in digital gaming spaces and gaming technologies themselves have transcended the traditional boundaries of their medium for purposes of education (Behnke, 2015). During my Etec510 I was able: 

some learning outcomes from etec510
Setting icon

Conceptual Design

Recently, there have been several efforts to translate the engagement found in games into computer science education (CSE) (Behnke, 2015; Fotaris, Mastoras, Leinfellner & Rosunally, 2016). These studies suggest that gamification embody beneficial learning principles to CS education such as promoting extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, allowing the freedom to explore and fail, shortening feedback cycles, and fostering effective problem-solving skills. 

Gamification, however, has also been controversial for appearing exploitative, seeming oversimplified, and having the tendency to rely on extrinsic motivation that may not translate to student learning (Behke, 2015; Bogost, 2011). In order to avoid the surface-level changes prioritizing extrinsic rewards while integrating gamification in the academic context, in our implementation, we turned to Nicholson (2015 ) “meaningful gamification framework” which is based on six elements framed by Deci & Ryan’s (2004) self-determination theory and Universal Design for Learning. 

code icon


Design Prototype - Train-the-Trainer: Gamification for Coding: Goals [2 & 3] Hover here Goal [2] To apply knowledge and skills to create educational resources aimed at broadening interest in computer science education.

Goal [3] To further develop a critical perspective in order to evaluate and draw conclusions about technology developments.

This design prototype demonstrates my accomplishment of a gamified learning environment hosting digital teaching and learning spaces targeted at ADST/CS educators who would like to refine their teaching skills into gamification for coding. It is a relatively simple application featuring to our audience how to employ gamification in meaningful and effective manner and avoid the “chocolate-covered-broccoli problem” (Oxford Analytica, 2016).



Our work in this artifact was confined with the attainable gamification plugins of WordPress, our limited technical and design skills in this area, and the course timeframe. Throughout the current revisitation of artifact, I have thought that this work would have been better if we had presented other learning modules demonstrating a complex form of gamification (combining various game elements) versus the present simple form. Also, if we would have deployed other gamification elements (besides badges) in the site design, particularly these mechanisms, which have gained broad applicability in education. By doing so, we would have differentiated the affordances and limitations of gamification elements in practice and furthered the educators’ recognition that one size does not fit all; while one game element may work for some individuals, it could result in the opposite effect for others. 

Despite the challenges with implementation, my personal take away from this experience is that gamification when misused, it may lead to shift the locus of learning towards behaviorism, however in the new clothes of digitalization. In explicit terms: 

Gamification is not an educational panacea, when misused, can lead to a less conductive learning environment (Oxford Analytica, 2016, p.34)
My big learning moments in Etec510

Beyond my personal gains, I think the application of gamification in CSE and even in other educational disciplines have, to date, tackled the low-hanging fruit of the technological innovation. This view may be supported by simple comparison with the successful implementations in business units. In my opinion, the solution in the educational context isn’t to funnel money into building game-based platforms; jumping to gamified solutions before the nature of the problem is properly defined and understood is a form of “technological solutionism” and clearly won’t lead to meaningful application (Morozov, 2013). Instead, there is a need for much better evidence of what works in gamification when it is implemented in real classrooms -after all, how can technologists or system owners take gamification seriously in education within a shortage of rigorous frameworks to use and no agreed verdict for the usefulness of its elements in teaching and learning processes.