Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Onboarding...adult learners...in online programs

Whether you think of this as the class orientation, the class welcome, or as onboarding, helping adult learners get off to a good start in an online course plays an important  role in their success...and your stress.

Before we delve into this topic...why do I call this Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of acclimating and welcoming new employees into an organization and providing them with the tools, resources, and knowledge to become successful and productive. To me, this process is just as necessary for students beginning a new online course as it is for new employees.

So...what tools, resources, and knowledge do students need to become successful and productive in an online environment?

Technology Basics 

Not all adults enter an online course with the same skills.

Over the last year, for example, I "onboarded" twenty-something adults who were unsure of how to copy and paste a link into another tab. Others did not know how to scroll. Yet others were unfamiliar with graphics as links. Balance this with adults  - often older - who are already asking for ideas as to video recording software and editing software..and I believe I can safely say that my adult students possess skills from one end of the spectrum to the other......which makes instructional design a very interesting process. Basic technology skills are important, but can easily be learned.

In fact, these are the first skills I focus on...individually with students...one we make ti to the actual Onboarding. But first, students need to reach the onboarding stage.

Pre-onboarding (aka Onboarding 000)

In a face-to face course the students need to appear that first day of class so they an meet each other, meet the faculty, find the building and the classroom....

In online courses, students need to log in.

Sometimes they need a gentle nudge, something that makes them want to log in.  Now part of me says, "Come on!  They're adults!   They should know they need to log in.  After all, if this were a face-to-face class, they would attend!" Online courses are much easier to block from our subconscious as we tell ourselves we will log in later...or tomorrow...or on the weekend.

What most adults do not realize is that online courses require more time on their part than face-to-face courses do. Often they cannot wait until the weekend to begin a course but need to log in as soon as possible.

Persuading students to log in is a task that, honestly, I still struggle with. Many students like to access the course site early-sometimes just to see what is expected and other times to plan ahead. To accommodate them, I try to open my courses three weeks prior to the first day of the semester. When I first open the course, I send an email announcement to all students:

The above announcement went out on August 2...for a class beginning August 21. The majority of the students at least logged in to look at the course.

We use Canvas for our LMS, and Canvas has this wonderful Scheduling function through the calendar what allows me to post hours I am available and have students schedule appointments with me through Canvas, saving a flurry of emails...and much time.

This is the Scheduler message and, yes, I am currently teaching 6 courses:

Five students scheduled onboarding sessions with me before the class officially began.  These students also started posting in the course before the official start of class.

So...five students "checked out the classroom" before the first day of class. :-) Twenty-nine of the 34 students enrolled scheduled their onboarding meeting, equating to 85% of my students making it to their first class meeting.

I suppose I should mention that I sent three reminder emails, gently urging them to schedule this onboarding meeting..before the end of the first week of the semester.

Once students log in, they see the following HOME PAGE:

Once they click on START HERE, they are taken to a welcome module that introduces them to the LMS, to the course, and urges them to schedule that Onboarding session with me...ASAP:

Clicking  on Course Onboarding Videoconference Required takes them to instructions regarding their preparation for this videoconference and the requirements for participating.

Following these instructions offers the first snag.  Some students gloss over the instructions regarding NOT using a cell phone, iPad, or a tablet,  and others ignore the advice regarding using a router rather WIFI. Students who do not follow instructions  frequently find themselves unable to maintain a solid internet connection, and screen sharing becomes difficult, if not impossible.  What we do during the onboarding requires they share their screen, so this preparation is crucical to the onboarding success.

My Onboarding Session Agenda

The loose agenda includes a tour of Canvas in general, the course Canvas site, and the major assignments. This session has lasted anywhere from 10 minutes 2 hours. . . ...and in some instances when students did not "attend" prepared (such as attending through a cell phone), the session was postponed to another day....which leads us back to

Pre-boarding take 2 . . .

 So.....how do we emphasize the importance of following instructions when working with online students? I suppose that until they understand why they need to do so (such as the student whose wifi kicked him off 7 times, reducing our one hour of time to approximately 30 minutes), instructions may be ignored. I will add that students who had to reschedule attended better prepared the next time, but that meant they lost a week of instruction and interaction.

The Cure?

I suppose the only cure is to allow them to "fail,"  something I really hate to see. This does not mean that they fail the course, but they do not have that initial jump on the course  that some of their classmates get. Experience has shown me that many of the students who use wifi rather than the router, who avoid headsets with mics and headphones, continue these behaviors throughout the semester, replicating the same events as before. Perhaps it doesn't bother them.  Perhaps they don't see the impact......

Perhaps there is no "cure," just trying to education them in the "why" and hoping to insprie them to care.

Sometimes teaching online can be very frustrating for all of us. . . . .

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ready, Set, Go! ?

This is the tough part.

I feel as though I know how to gamify a course on a small scale, and the creative part of me yearns for this pathway. Creating a simulation experience would be wonderful, but I currently lack those design skills.

But....just because I can gamify a course, does that mean that I should?

The following points keep  running through my mind:

1. According to Mohl ( 2014), gamification is fun. -----> I want my courses to be fun. Don't we all?

2. Prince (2013) links gamifying an activity or a course to increased involvement and engagement, as well as fostering ongoing relationships.  -----> I want my adult learners to be engaged in the course and to begin relationships that can lead to networking.

3. Designing gamified content can be both time- and energy-consuming. -----> While I do not have a lot of time, I would be willing to  use my time to gamify a course if it were worthwhile for students and resulted in increased engagement, enjoyment, and learning. Gamifying a course will be time-consuming, so much care will need to be taken in planning out the narrative, the mechanics, and the dynamics, along with their delivery.

4. Research is split regarding the benefits of gamification with regards to increasing learning. -----> I wonder, though, would making a course fun enough that students looked forward to engaging with it necessarily result in increased learning?

5. Kim (2015) suggests gamification needs a goal, a reason to gamify a course or a training.  Without a goal, there is no reason to gamify-----> Obviously, gamifying because one can gamify is not really enough.   I need a reason to gamify. One reason could be to demonstrate gamification in a class that focuses on gamification in business and education.  But aren't there other reasons? Could the goal of increasing engagement within a course be enough?  How about the goal of making content more fun to learn? Or encouraging students to interact more with one another? Are these goals "good enough"? Or is the issue really one of, would gamifying a course help a faculty member/designer achieve a specific goal better than the current method an instructor may be using?

6 Another consideration is motivation.  A gamified experience should include both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. -----> Points, leaderboards, and badges of game mechanics work well to extrinsically motivate  but what about sharing knowledge, participating, engaging in a course or experience?  Will aesthetics motivate one to do these behaviors?  Aesthetics  focuses on what the player feels while playing. Is this feeling enough to intrinsically motivate a student?

7. Where/How might Bloom's Taxonomy fit into gamification? -----> As in many educational institutions, we integrate Bloom into all courses, and gamified courses will have to also apply Bloom. This thought just occurred to me, so, obviously, I need to delve into more research.  A quick purview of the research takes me to the Pedagogy wheel  below which reminds us of the  criteria for choosing apps that help address Bloom's taxonomy:

Also of interest - and continued exploration on my part - is Allen Interactions' Taxonomy Alignment for Gaming:

Much to think about.  . . . .

My next steps

No pun intended, but I'm game for gamification.   If I can gamify a course in such way that addresses the above-mentioned items, I want to do so.  Even if doing so takes a lot of time, to me, if the results are worthwhile then so is the time involved in gamifying. 


Ready, Set, Go!!!!!!


 Kim, B. (2015). Designing gamification in the right way. Library Technology Reports 51(2), 29-35.

Mohl, L. (2014). Serious fun - How HR can up the game. Workforce Solutions Review 5(3), 24-27.

Prince, J. D (2013). Gamification. Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, 10(3), 162-169.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Drawing this all together - decision time!

and...the finale......and my decision...

Drawing This All Together 

The MDA Format allows users to recycle and retune and integrates well with online presence. Key here is the MDA’s iterative approach to design and tuning, allowing instructors and designers to reason about particular design goals and to anticipate how changes will impact each aspect of the framework, the resulting designs / implementations, student engagement, and course learnings. Moving between MDA’s three levels of abstraction allows us to conceptualize the dynamic behavior of game systems as well as that of interactive, gamified online courses. The following graphic  depicts the flow of course development using the MDA format for game design:

In some ways, instructors/course designers need to work on all three areas of MDA at once, while keeping in mind the components of online presence as well as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as they design. In some instances the aesthetics might inform dynamics and mechanics, but it may not be possible to actually design the class presentation or appearance without knowing the mechanics (the rules and resources) to use, and the mechanics both spring from and lead to the dynamics (the activity that occurs).  All of this leads to the student’s experience of aesthetics (components of engagement). 

The complexity of course design, i.e., integration of gamification, can vary from the course site being a place just to spend time while students interact generally with content to having more of a social framework where students interact with one another along with content, to full immersion using a narrative. The MDA framework not only serves to inform game design, it also informs course design during gamification, providing course designers/instructors with a method of decision-making and validating these decisions while enhancing the course. Aligning gamification with the three presences noted in the Community of Inquiry gives designers and instructors an additional framework to further validate their decisions. Syncing these two frameworks, then, provides instructors and designers with a more solid approach to both designing and validating the learning outcomes while making a course while increasing engagement. Further application of both frameworks allows for course evolution and future enhancements.

So....what shall I do?   What are my next steps ?


Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., & Zubek, R. (2004, July). MDA: A formal approach to game design and game research. In Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Challenges in Game AI. Retrieved from http://www.aaai.org/Papers/Workshops/2004/WS-04-04/WS04-04-001.pdf  

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Gamification, MDA, and CoI...and the literature review continues....

It appears as though the MDA framework can be used to design a gaming experience, and a successful  online course integrates Garrison's Community of Inquiry....but will they all work together to gamify an online course?

Integrating Gamification as per MDA Framework into the Community of Inquiry 

Although the Community of Inquiry framework was created to analyze online asynchronous communications, it is now being applied to other online settings. Harteveld, ten Thij, & Copier (2011) note that although many players play games individually, many more play collaboratively, tackling difficult problems and engaging with each other cross-culturally both within games and outside of games through game forums and wikis, even in-game and real-life meetings. Hudson and Cairns (2016) found that when teams lose a digital game, the negative impact on social presence is greater within teams than it is between teams. Networked interactivity in online educational games is linked to a student’s positive view of learning, test performance, and view of social presence yet no impact on learning outcome achievement (Lee, Jeong, Park, & Ryu,
2011). The Community of Inquiry framework has also been applied to a virtual world. McKerlich and Anderson (2007) observed all three presences in Second Life and concluded that the framework was appropriate to evaluate educational events in MUVE environments and suggested some additional elements such as technical support under teaching presence. Virtual world environments can potentially increase social presence, and in turn cognitive presence. In particular, according to the studies on social presence, the avatars (virtual representations of individuals) are likely to simulate human-to-human interactions to increase engagement and hence learning (Atkinson, Mayer, & Merrill, 2005). Children playing games such as Alien Rescue have reported learning gains in direct science content knowledge along with related areas of using scientific instruments, managing a budget, conducting research, and applying problem-solving skills (Liu, Rosenblum, Horton, & Kang, 2014).

Missing from the above discussion is a connection between gamified class designs and presence.  The following table depicts the components of the MDA Framework integrated with the three forms of presence:

Although this table is not an exhaustive list, it does serve as a starting point to use when gamifying an online course according to best practices for game design and for online course design.

Next? Drawing together all of these loose ends. . . . and making a decision. . . . . .


Atkinson, R. K., Mayer, R. E., & Merrill, M. M. (2005). Fostering social agency in multimedia learning: examining the impact of an animated agent’s voice. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30, 117–139.

Harteveld, C., ten Thij, M., & Copier, M. (2011). Design for engaging experience and social interaction. Simulation & Gaming 42(5), 590-595.

Hudson, M., & Cairns, P. (2016). The effects of winning and losing on social presence in team-based digital games. Computers in Human Behavior, 60, 1-12.

Lee, K. M., Jeong, E. J., Park, N., & Ryu, S. (2011). Effects of interactivity in educational games: A mediating role of social presence on learning outcomes. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 27(7), 620-633.

Liu, M., Rosenblum, J. A, Horton, L., & Kang, J. (2014). Designing science learning with game-based approaches.  Computers in the Schools, 31(1/2), 84-102.

 McKerlich, R., & Anderson, T. (2007). Community of inquiry and learning in immersive environments. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(4), 35–52.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Engagement and presence...and the literature review continues...


 The Role of Engagement and Presence in Online Courses 

Engagement is related to motivation, in this instance the motivation to stay engaged in online courses. Maslow (1943, 1954, 1970) suggests that people are motivated to meet certain needs. When one fulfills a need, the person moves on to fulfill the next one. His earliest version of this hierarchy of needs included five motivational needs, often depicted within a pyramid (see Figure to the right). These first four needs are identified as deficit needs.  If these deficit needs are not met, these needs make us uncomfortable, motivating us to sufficiently fulfill these needs. Referred to as growth needs, the last four needs constantly motivate us as they relate to our growth and development.

Maslow also arranged these needs in a hierarchy, indicating that we are primarily motivated by a need only if lower level needs have been met. This means that before cognitive or self-actualization needs can motivate us, we must address the basic deficit needs like physiological, security, belonging, and esteem.  After students meet level 1basic needs and the safety needs of level 2, they next strive to meet the belonging needs of level 3. This level involves emotionally-based relationships in general, such as friendship, intimacy and having a supportive and communicative family. Students who lack these close relationships often exhibit low initiative and low levels of extraversion, impacting their ability and interest in interacting. Faculty can assist here by creating opportunities for students to interact with one another and with faculty, in a gamified environment, by using technology to foster community, one where students feel they belong. Faculty, then, can begin developing engagement by meeting students at their level 3 needs and continuing up through the levels.

Gamifying a class may be one way to help meet these needs. 

A sense of community, also a part of engagement, has been significantly linked to perceived learning (Rovai, 2002; Shae, 2006). Garrison (2007) refers to community as presence, comprised of three types: social, cognitive, and teaching presence. Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000) developed a comprehensive Community of Inquiry framework (see Figure on the left) that suggests developing a community of learners is crucial to supporting higher level learning and discussion.

 Research suggests this framework provides solutions for studying online learning (Garrison & Archer, 2003; Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, Koole, & Kappelman, 2006). Garrison et al. (2000) argue that any one of cognitive processing, social interactions, or teachers’ facilitation by itself is insufficient for fostering higher levels of critical thinking, but instead, these three elements have to co-exist and interact with one another to optimally facilitate learning (Bangert, 2008).  

Aligning the integration of gamification into online courses using the MDA Framework and the Community of Inquiry Framework seems to be an appropriate place to begin. 

Social presence

Students demonstrate social presence when they project themselves as real people within a community, establishing personal and purposeful relationships. A key point here is for students to recognize they are not here purely for social reasons, but to interact with common purpose for the sake of inquiry. Students need to feel secure to communicate openly and to create cohesion. Swan and Shih (2005) found that group cohesion is significantly related to social presence and perceived learning outcomes. Richardson and Swan (2003) go on to connect social presence with student and instructor satisfaction with and perceptions of a course. Social presence in online discussions has even been identified as a predictor of academic performance and can be used as early detection for students at risk of failing an online course (Joksimovic, Gasevic, Kovanovic, Riecke, & Hatala, 2015).

Teaching presence

Teaching presence relates to the process of design, facilitation, and direction throughout the learning experience to achieve desired learning outcomes. Teaching presence should directly and indirectly facilitate social interactions and stimulate higher levels of cognitive processing. Interaction and discourse play a key role in higher-order learning but not without structure (design) and leadership (facilitation and direction). For example, without explicit guidance, students will likely engage primarily in serial monologues with brief responses rather than truly delving into the topic presented for discussion. This may require faculty to be more directive in their initial posts or in their responses, directing students to solve a particular problem or to require certain elements be present in student responses. Garrison and Archer (2003) suggest that teaching presence is a significant determinate of student satisfaction, perceived learning, and sense of community. Students relate timeliness of teacher direct comments to assignments as increasing their course satisfaction.

 Cognitive presence

Cognitive presence relates to the design and development of instructional materials, enabling students to construct and confirm meaning through related refection and discourse. Cognitive presence is the degree to which the learners can construct understanding through sustained reflection and communication (Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, & Archer, 2001). The phases of cognitive presence (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000), in increasing complexity, include (1) Triggering Event (that triggers issues for consideration); (2) Exploration (of issues, through brainstorming, questioning, and information exchange); (3) Integration (to construct meaning based on the ideas generated in Exploration); and (4) Resolution (to build consensus as learners confirm their understanding and apply new ideas to solve problems).

 My step, then, is to explore how to integrate  the MDA Framework into the Community of Inquiry.


Bangert, A. (2008, September). The influence of social presence and teaching presence on the quality of online critical inquiry. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 20(1), 34-61.  

Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online community of inquiry review: Social, cognitive, and teaching presence issues. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 61-72.

Garrison, D. R. Anderson, T, & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education 2(2–3), 87–105.

Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2003). A community of inquiry framework for online learning. In M. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance education. New York: Erlbaum.

Garrison, D. R., Cleveland-Innes, M., Koole, M., & Kappelman, J. (2006). Revisting methodological issues in the analysis of transcripts: Negotiated coding and reliability. The Internet and Higher Education, 9(1), 1–8.

Joksimovic, S., Gasevic, D., Kovanovic, V., Riecke, B. E. & Hatala, M. (2015). Social presence in online discussions as a process predictor of academic performance. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 31, 638-654.  

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-96.

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper and Row.

Maslow, A. H. (1970). Religions, values, and peak experiences. New York: Penguin.

Richardson, J. C., & Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1), 68-83.  

Rovai, A. P. (2002). Sense of community, perceived cognitive learning, and persistence in asynchronous learning networks. The Internet and Higher Education 5(4), 319–332.

Shea, P. (2006). A study of students’ sense of learning community in online environments. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 10(10). Retrieved from >http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/jaln/v10n1/v10n1_4shea_member.asp

Swan, K. & Shih, L. F. (2005, October). On the nature and development of social presence in online course discussions. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 9(3). Retrieved from http://www.sloan-c.org/publications/jaln/v9n3/pdf/

Saturday, October 22, 2016

MDA aplied to an online classroom - the literature review continues

Now, let's delve futher into MDA and its application to online course design . . . .

Online course design and the MDA Framework

The MDA framework allows designers to consider the game from two perspectives at the same time – they can see the game from the viewpoint of the user as well as from that of the designer - making this a very useful design, particularly if a designer also plays games. This framework, however, can also assist instructors who are considering adding gamification to an online course.

Game mechanics in an online gamified course might include points, badges, leaderboards, statuses, levels, quests/tasks, countdowns, challenges, and virtual spaces. Game dynamics include in-game behaviors and strategic actions and interactions that emerge within the course, including rewards, achievements, self-expression, and competition. As in a gaming environment, the dynamics are often difficult to anticipate, so instructors need to constantly monitor a course to see what types of dynamics emerge and respond accordingly. The aesthetic part of course design needs to be kept in mind while designing as they can be added during design or at the end of design. The aesthetic component focuses on generating an emotional response, in this instance, from the students in an online course, with instructors designing the course experience to be pleasurable.

While faculty often hope that students enjoy their courses, gamification allows faculty to deliberately include items or consider student enjoyment as part of the design process. Faculty could include an element of make-believe or fantasy such as setting up the entire course as a type of role-play where students are working in a business or in an internship setting. Narrative is another possible example of aesthetics, requiring the addition of drama or storytelling. An online course could be set up as a series of challenges or an obstacle course. Another possibility is to set up a course with a social framework requiring all students to work together to achieve goals. A course could be designed as unchartered territory or an expression of self-discovery.

Paramount here is to have a framework for the courses, a theme that connects every item within the course, comprising course aesthetics.Aesthetics, dynamics, and mechanics all work together with each one informing the development and continued revising of the other. The MDA framework of game design can be applied to gamifying a course, but another aspect needs to be considered to help inform best practices in gamification. Does the MDA framework, then, integrate with the role of presence as set forth in the Community of Inquiry Framework?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

MDA...the literature review continues . . .

I next started looking at game design and instructional design.... and found the MDA Framework....

Game Design and Gamification

MDA (Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics) Framework provides one approach to understanding games and how gamification works (Elverdam & Aarseth, 2007; Kim, 2015; Robson, et al., 2015), breaking down games into three components from the users' perspective: rules, system, and fun.  From the designer's perspective, this turns into mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics (Kim, 2015; Robson et al., 2015). The figure below shows the progression within the framework. The flow moves from the Designer (or Instructor) with Mechanics, then moves through Dynamics, and on to Aesthetics where the player/student is, moving from the basic components to the emotional response. All three of these components are necessary to maintain engagement and change behavior.

Game mechanics

Game mechanics involve the distinct set of rules that dictate the outcome of interactions within the system. Points, badges, leader boards, statuses, levels, quests, countdowns, tasks/quest/missions, and other particular rules and rewards all fall under the category of game mechanics (Kim, 2015). Three different types of mechanics are extremely important in games and in gamified experiences: set up mechanics, rule mechanics, and progression mechanics (Robson, et al., 2015).

  • Set up mechanics include what shapes the environment of the experience. This includes the setting and objects  and how those objects are distributed to the players. This also includes who the player is playing against - are they known or unknown? Are they internal or external? It is in this component where designers determine the spatial dimensions of the virtual world along with regulating when the experience will happen (i.e., real-time or turn-based and finite end or infinite play). Player structure is also part of game mechanics: how many can play? Is it single or multi-player? Single or multiple teams? Strangers, friends, or allies? (Elverdam & Aarseth, 2007). Although this speaks primarily to game design, set up mechanics are also important in gamifying a course. Will students play/interact individually, in one large group, or in small groups? While most instructors may not begin gamification by using a virtual world, considerations regarding amount of time available to complete a task and whether or not tasks are completed synchronously or asynchronously do need to be address.
  •  Rule mechanics shape the goal of the gamified experience (Elverdam & Aarseth, 2007), describing permissible actions as well as constraints that limit those actions to create pressure for the players (Kelly, 2012). If players make the same decisions each time they play, will the results be the same, or is there some element of chance? Do interactions with other players impact the outcome? Rule mechanics can also be topological or time-based. Topological includes spaces where players land - are they rewarded for landing and checking in? Time-based mechanics address whether players have to react within a specific time period and how resources build up or deplete. Objectives-based rule mechanics refers to the effects of specific circumstances, such as completing one level to unlock the next (Robson, et al., 2015). When applying this to a gamified course, instructors might consider actions such as rewarding students who “check in” or complete a task on a holiday or a weekend, those who check in daily, or those who interact with a specified number of other students within a specified time period. Embedding Easter Eggs (a hidden message, or feature, in an interactive work such as a computer program, video game or screen) within content is another example of rule mechanics as is providing students with choices in tasks. 
  •  Progression mechanics dictate the reinforcements present in the experience (behaviors with rewarding outcomes are likely to be repeated in the future). This can be done with badges, achievement awards, levels, resources, and such.  The achievements - or rewards - must be valuable to the player or the player may lose interest and stop playing. Having a balance of rewards is most desirable - after all, if everyone earns the top prize, then how much is the top prize really worth? 

Mechanics form the structure for the game experience. On their own, however, mechanics are not enough to change behaviors or boost one's performance. Game dynamics and emotions or aesthetics animate the game experience and facilitate behavior change. It is this interdependence between mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics that signals the designer what changes need to be made to the mechanics to result in behavior changes.

Game Dynamics 

Game dynamics refer to the principles that create and support aesthetic experience. Unlike the game mechanics set by the designer, game dynamics describe in-game behaviors and strategic actions and interactions that emerge during play (Camerer, 2003). Examples of game dynamics include behavioral momentum, feedback, progress, time pressure, and certain abilities that game avatars can develop (Kim, 2015). Dynamics are difficult to predict and can lead to some unexpected behaviors and outcomes which can be either positive or negative. The challenges for designers, then, is to anticipate the types of dynamics that can emerge and develop the mechanics of the gaming experience accordingly.

Game Aesthetics

Aesthetics encompass the various emotional goals of the game: sensation (game as sense-pleasure), fantasy (game as make-believe), narrative (game as drama), challenge (game as obstacle course), fellowship (game as social framework), discovery (game as uncharted territory), expression (game as self-discovery), and submission (game as pastime) (Kim, 2015). Aesthetics, then, are the result of how players follow the mechanics then generate the dynamics. Playing games should be fun and appealing. Assuming that players will stop playing if they do not enjoy themselves, then creating player enjoyment should be the main goal (Robson, et al., 2015).

I wonder how the MDA Framework might apply to online course design.......


Camerer, C. (2003). Behavioral game theory: Experiments in strategic interaction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Elverdam, C., & Aarseth, E. (2007). Game classification and game design construction through critical analysis. Games and Culture, 2(1), 3-22.

Kelly, R. (2012). Adding game elements to your online course. OnlineCl@ssroom 14(11), 2-5.

Kim, B. (2015). Designing gamification in the right way. Library Technology Reports 51(2), 29-35.

Robson, K., Plangger, K., Kietzmann, J. H., McCarthy, I., & Pitt, P. (2015). Is it all a game? Understanding the principles of gamification. Business Horizons, 58, 411-420.