Posted in 4.3 Reflection on Practice, 4.4 Assessing/Evaluating, AECT Standard 4 (Professional Knowledge and Skills)

Reflection of Learning During EDTECH 504 Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology (SU17)

I chose to take this theory class during the summer session and as my only class this semester. I knew I would need extra time to read and digest the complex materials as theory isn’t my favorite subject. The course consisted of 8 assignments focused on researching different learning theories in Educational Technology. I chose to focus my research on gamification and constructivism since this is an area of education that I am currently very interested in.

I found the first learning theories paper that we were tasked with writing allowed me to explore and expand on the “why” of learning strategies more so than the “how” or “what”. As I said, I focused on Constructivism in the classroom and was able to round out my understand of what the main principles are. This will help me create student-centered projects for my classrooms that allow for learners to draw from their previous experiences.

The two main papers from this course focus on the Research (Standard 5) of the AECT standards. Both papers focused on research of the Constructivism learning theory while the final synthesis paper focused on gamificaiton in the constructivist classroom. In researching these topics, I have shown mastery of Standard 5, Research, Accessing & Evaluating, and Theoretical Foundations as well as Standard 1, Content Knowledge, Using, and Accessing & Evaluating.

Posted in 5.1 Theoretical Foundations, 5.2 Method, 5.3 Assessing/Evaluating, 5.4 Ethics, AECT Standard 5 (Research)



How can gamification be used to increase motivation in a classroom? Gamification can look very different depending on the application. Game mechanics can be applied to small projects as well as an entire course. The use of XP, leveling up, leaderboards, badges, etc., can easily add elements of gaming to projects but the quality of the instruction and course design is the key to a successful implementation. The biggest contributing factor to the success of gamification is motivation. Learners who participate in a gamified task are typically intrinsically motivated to not only complete the task but to be successful at it. Educators need to be cognizant of the pitfalls of gamification when implementing such strategies. Gamification has roots deep in the Constructivism learning theory by generating motivation in order to complete tasks that are generally self-guided. The skills needed for a student to coordinate completion of the game mechanics align with the Constructivist ideas of a successful transfer of learning episode.


It’s widely agreed that the idea of gamification is growing in popularity. Many researchers have studied the effects of gamification in different scenarios. The topic of this paper is focused on not only what gamification means to education but how it affects learning through motivation in a Constructivist classroom. It is widely understood that motivation plays a positive role in learning. Gamification provides strategies that increase personal motivation to expand on skillsets for use in future quests. At it’s core, Gamification provides a way to incorporate Constructivist theories to technology rich learning environments by increasing motivation.

What is Gamification?

Gamification has been defined as “using game design elements in non-game contexts to motivate and increase user activity and retention” (Deterding et al, 2011). The elements that make up gamification can look different depending on the application. For example, gamification can happen in small assignments, projects, or a whole course.  In addition to where the elements can appear, what types of elements can vary as well. In this section I will explore the various way gamification can look inside a classroom.

Game Mechanics: The basic parts of gamification have been called different things by different authors. Yang, Quadir, and Chen call these parts the “Badge Mechanism” (2015) and Brull and Finlayson call them “Gamification Mechanics” (2016).  In this paper, I will refer to these basic parts as the game mechanics. These parts include scoring in XP, using badges, leaderboards, levels, and any other game like parts. These mechanics are used to simulate a game environment and can be used on most content areas with a certain amount of ease. In order for gamification to work, the literature suggest that at least some of these game mechanics need to be in place to be effective. Using game mechanics and other types of gaming strategies allows learners to solve problems in an engaging and fun way (Bruder, 2015). The game mechanics provide learners with one more tool that they can use to form their own understanding and learning through motivation. This Constructivist perspective illustrates how learners build upon their experiences to achieve successes.  

Course or Content: Educators who may be overwhelmed or even skeptical about applying game mechanics to their own curriculum can begin the process slowly using mini-games. Individual projects or units can be easily gamified by renaming points/percentages to XP, introducing competition with a leaderboard, and creating some reward system with badges or prizes. On a small scale like this, motivation from the mechanics themselves can be difficult to attain, rewards and prizes help.

A gamified course uses game mechanics on a larger scale to create a community of learning. Holding motivation for extended periods with game mechanics alone is very difficult. To successfully gamify a course, there must be quests or some kind choice, otherwise learners quickly bore of the game. Providing a variety of projects that achieve the same objective will allow learners to follow their own interest and feel empowered to succeed (Proulx et al., 2016).

Gamified Learning Management Systems: As gamification grows in popularity more and more classroom management systems are offering a gamified option. These systems provide educators guidance in gamifying their course and can also offer a virtual environment for students to interact. It is important to note that studies have shown that the quality of the digital environment has serious impact on motivation and efficacy for learning. Not all environments are suitable for all situations, educators need to carefully select the right tool to match their needs (Kamasheva et al., 2015).

Constructivism in Gamification

The constructivist learning theory is all about students creating meaning from their learning experiences. The theory places the learner at the center of the learning environment and active participation is the main component to success. The main idea is that experiences help the learner formulate the meaning within the current context. It is through active participation that constructivists believe meaning is created. Gamification is a natural way to incorporate participation into curriculum and build upon experiences by increasing student motivation.

How Gamification affects motivation.

Motivation is defined as being moved to do something (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Therefore, a person who does not try to move forward is described as unmotivated. A person performing a task to attain an outcome is described as being extrinsically motivated, whereas a person performing a task for the pure enjoyment or interest is intrinsically motivated (Chen, Burton, Vorvoreanu, & Whittinghill, 2015). For example, someone who creates art because it makes them feel good and they enjoy it is intrinsically motivated; someone who creates art because they want to make money or status is extrinsically motivated.

Extrinsic Motivation: Traditional teaching styles use a teach-stop-test cycle with the goal of helping the learner to retain the content because they have to pass the test (Shute & Ventura, 2013). The motivation is for the student to do well on the test. As a result, often the content is forgotten soon after testing. This is extrinsic motivation because the learner is only motivated by outside or external factors. In the scope of gamified learning theory, extrinsic motivation often leads to ineffective results. In order for students to really care about and invest themselves into a project, they must be motivated from within themselves.

Extrinsic Motivation can be an applicable form of motivation to be successful but I think one would agree it is not ideal. In learners where an interest in games is weak, motivation to complete the task is in the forefront. The structure and objectives of the task need to also be engaging in order to hold the interest of the learner.

Intrinsic Motivation: When a student is personally vested in their coursework and find it fun, they become intrinsically motivated. Learners in game environments experience emotions such as frustration, wonder, mystery, and amusement, which provides a personal connection to the game or others playing the game. They report that how a game makes them feel inside is one of the major reasons why they play (Lazzaro, 2004).

In a review of  70 empirical research studies on the use of  games in the classroom from Connolly, Boyle, MacArthur, Hainey, & Boyle (2012), the most observed positive outcomes were affectivity, motivation, and learning. The potential of games to foster intrinsic motivation is shown over and over throughout the research. Based on another series of surveys, observations and interviews with gamers, a motivation theory from Malone (1981) was put forward, which says that challenge, fantasy, control, curiosity, cooperation, recognition, and competition are the most significant motivational elements that make gaming fun and engaging.

Pitfalls of Gamification to Consider

Not everyone likes games: An important consideration to remember is that not everyone enjoys playing games. While gamified content may stimulate intrinsic motivation for many, some may still only be motivated by the external factor of passing (Yang, 2017). For these students there will be more effort from the teacher to make sure course objectives are met.

Role of the teacher: It is important for teachers to continue to play an active role in instruction, especially since all students may not respond well to gamification and/or a digital environment. Yang says “simply using digital games in the classroom does not guarantee satisfactory learning achievement, especially in the case of the absence of a teacher. Integrating appropriate learning strategies into a game can better enhance the learning performance.” (Yang, 2017, p.235) Gamification gives students a level of autonomy and in some scenarios, can be delivered as a self-paced course. Research suggests that motivation up-ticks are fewer in a self-guided program than with a facilitator. The reason for this can be tied to the decrease in motivation when a learner either loses interest or is confused with the content. The teacher delivering the program needs to be a reliable resource to students without interfering with the Constructivist ideology of student-centered learning.

Improper objective mapping: Gaming for the sake of gaming isn’t going to work. The objectives of the project need to be kept in focus during the development of the gamified curriculum. As stated already, gamification is not a one size fits all solution to learner motivation. Clear objectives and relevant content is key in sourcing the right gaming solution (Mathrani, 2016).


Constructivist learning theorists (e.g., Papert, 1993; Piaget, 1964, 1970) realize that game-like activities can foster learning. This is because students are willing to spend more time and effort on learning while participating in those activities.  The increased motivation factors gained from gamification provide a Constructivist classroom strategies to increase student success.  The use of XP, leveling up, leaderboards, badges, etc., add elements of gaming to projects but the quality of the instruction and course design to foster participation is the key to a successful implementation. The biggest contributing factor to the success of gamification is motivation. The uptick gained from increased motivation from the gamification of content is inherently transferred to future lessons and built upon to form a big idea. This allows students to build their knowledge and feel in control of their learning.  


Bruder, P. (2015). Game on: Gamification in the classroom. The Education Digest, 3, 56-60.

Brull, S., & Finlayson, S. (2016). Importance of gamification in increasing learning. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 47(8), 372–375.

Chen, Y., Burton, T., Vorvoreanu, M., & Whittinghill, D.M. (2015). Cogent: A case study of meaningful gamification in education with virtual currency. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 10(1), 39.

Connolly, T. M., Boyle, E. A., MacArthur, E., Hainey, T., & Boyle, J. M. (2012). A systematic literature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games. Computers & Education, 59, 661-686. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2012.03.004

Deterding, S , Dixon, D , Khaled, R , & Nacke, L (2011) From game design elements to gamefulness: Defining “gamification”, Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, September 28-30, 2011, Tampere, Finland doi: 10.1145/2181037.2181040

Han, H.-C. (2015). Gamified Pedagogy: From gaming theory to creating a self-motivated learning environment in Studio Art. Studies in Art Education, 56(3), 257–267.

Kamasheva, A. V., Valeev, E. R., Yagudin, R. K., & Maksimova, K. R. (2015). Usage of gamification theory for increase motivation of employees. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences.

Lazzaro, N. (2004). Why we play games: Four keys to more emotion without story. Retrieved from

Malone. T. W. (1981). Toward a theory of intrinsically motivating instruction. Cognitive Science, 4, 333-369.

Mathrani, A., Christian, S., & Ponder-Sutton, A. (2016). PlayIT: Game based learning approach for teaching programming concepts. Educational Technology & Society, 19(2), 5–17.

Proulx, J.-N., Romero, M., & Arnab, S. (2016). Learning Mechanics and Game Mechanics Under the Perspective of Self-Determination Theory to Foster Motivation in Digital Game Based Learning. Simulation & Gaming, 1046878116674399.

Ryan, R.M., & Deci, E.L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67.

Shute, V.J., & Ventura, M. (2013). Stealth assessment: Measuring and supporting learning in games. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press Books.

Wouters, P., van Nimwegen, C., van Oostendorp, H., & van Der Spek, E. D. (2013). A meta- analysis of the cognitive and motivational effects of serious games. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 249-265. doi:10.1037/a0031311

Yang, J. C., Quadir, B., & Chen, N.-S. (2016). Effects of the Badge Mechanism on Self-Efficacy and Learning Performance in a Game-Based English Learning Environment. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 54(3), 371–394.

Yang, K.-H. (2017). Learning behavior and achievement analysis of a digital game-based learning approach integrating mastery learning theory and different feedback models. Interactive Learning Environments, 1–14.


Posted in 1.1 Creating, 1.2 Using, 2.1 Creating, 2.2 Using, AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge), AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy)

Whitespace Assignment

For this weeks whitespace assignment, I wanted to start to really dig into some of the more difficult design challenges I am having in the unit. One assignment I have success with during the Google Slides unit is creating a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) story. During this assignment, students are to brainstorm their stories on paper first. I’ve used this assignment only twice so far and both times I’ve given students their choice of a wide selection of outline organizers I found on the internet to use. I’ve found that the nature of the organizer, lots and lots of information, makes the outline templates tough to use. For this reason, I’ve been kicking around some ideas of how to not only make what I have been using better graphically, but to also custom make the organizer to better match the objectives of my course.

My biggest challenge is creating usable white space while organizing large amounts of data in a fairly compact space. I really wanted to keep the organizer to 2 pages for convenience and I needed to include at least 2 levels of the story. Sylvia Duckworth has created some really good flow chart templates but the general inspiration to my approach came from this presentation. I chose to use Google Slides to create the document and the page dimensions are letter sized. The image here is a composite of both pages. (open in Google Slides)


As you can see, and what you would expect, there is quite a bit of whitespace in the document. Since I have very limited space to work with, I tried to optimize the usable space by left-aligning the headings minimized as much of the provided text as possible. The coloring of the boxes is to help students identify at a glance each individual slide. Since many students tend to get lost in the mapping of the slides, I felt that in addition to the colors, the flow of the document should follow a logical order. The symmetry of the layout helps create order to something that can be quite overwhelming (Lohr 275). With other organizers, I’ve found that space for students to actually fill with their ideas is so limited in the final slides, that they often need to use additional paper. I wanted to avoid this and spent a bit of time figuring out how to maximize the space for these slides. I feel like I was successful as I was able to fit a full sentence or two in each box during my testing.

This weeks assignment is a bit different for me than the others in that I’ve been thinking about tackling this problem for a while now. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work on my ideas. That said, for this assignment, I also have ample testing subjects. Since we’ve already done our CYOA lesson last quarter, I was able to show this outline to students and get informal feedback on if they felt it would enhance the storytelling process. I had a couple students give valuable proofreading feedback as typos seemed to multiply on their own (they love finding my errors). Overall the feedback I received was positive but I could tell they were so over it and even my excited enthusiasm wasn’t enough to keep their interest. So.. I look forward to your feedback.. and most of all, I look forward to actually using this next year!

Posted in 1.1 Creating, 1.2 Using, 2.1 Creating, 2.2 Using, AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge), AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy)


For our EDTECH506 wk10 assignment we are tasked with creating an image that represents strategies in organization. I chose to use Pictochart for this assignment because I really wanted to demonstrate order and organization in a clear way and that is something Pictochart does well.


I used consistent coloring and shapes as with the rest of the unit. The only thing I varied was the background pattern. I’m not sure I like it, I tend to like white backgrounds but wanted to try something new (for me). As far as organization, I used a solid path with numbering to indicate order. The eye is led down the page and presented with content at each section.

Posted in 1.1 Creating, 1.2 Using, 3.1 Creating, 3.2 Using, AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge), AECT Standard 3 (Learning Environments)

Selection Principle: Emphasizing Figure and Ground

The main idea behind this weeks EDTECH506 graphic is using emphasis to draw out meaning. The terms used in the chapter are figure for the thing that you want to emphasize and ground for what is in the background. The readings for the week showed different examples of calling attention to content using many basic design principles such as manipulating positive and negative space. As I browsed through the examples, I got a better understanding of applying these principles to creating instructional materials. For my project this week, I chose to create a poster for the classroom showing the Google Slides toolbar.


The instructional purpose is to provide students this toolbar cheat sheet for quick reference. I tried to make the toolbar and labels pop out of the page by subduing the background image. I feel like this worked ok but after showing it to my test team (my family) I felt that there wasn’t enough “pop.” I solved this problem by adding some drop shadows which I feel does a good job of separating the foreground and background.


Posted in 1.1 Creating, 1.2 Using, AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge)

Presentation Guideline using CARP

For this weeks EDTECH 506 assignment, we are tasked with creating an instructional graphic using CARP (Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, and Proximity). Personally, I feel that CARP is a key guideline when doing anything in graphic design. That said, I also feel like much of these concepts can happen unconsciously.

The graphic I choose to create for my Google Slides unit is an infographic on basic guidelines and suggestions for creating a slideshow. The intended use is to be printed in poster format and hung in the classroom.


CARP Justification

Contrast: Contrast is being used with colors in the heading swoosh as well as typefaces. The contrast in this piece is there but minimal. Probably my least favorite part of the image is the lack of contrast in background colors vs foreground colors.. but at the same time this lack of contrast is intentional in an effort to create consistency without drawing attention to any one specific thing.

Alignment: The two main sections of this image show slightly different alignment schemes. All text and images are aligned consistently throughout and negative space is effectively used to lead the eye to the areas I’ve intended.

Repetition: The two main sections of the image show sub-sections with the same format repeated across the image. The slideshow tips use a snapshot format and the presenter tips use a simple center aligned list. Throughout the piece, the images are presented on top of a lighter circle background. This ties all the imagery together. Font typefaces and weights are also consistent to show headings and content text.

Proximity: You can very clearly identify, at a glance, that there are two main sections of the image. You can tell this by the proximity of the sub-sections and how they are laid out in a similar fashion.

What I would do differently

When updating this image for final use, I would try to re-work the ‘snapshot’ section. I feel like there is too much negative spacing here and overall makes the piece feel a little weak in the middle.

Posted in 1.1 Creating, 1.2 Using, 2.1 Creating, AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge), AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy), Uncategorized

Design Process Model

This week we were tasked with using a design cycle to solve our graphic problems. Interesting enough I seem to be in a ‘design cycle’ cycle as I’ve just finished covering it in two of my classes that I teach and we’ve just done cycles in my other EDTECH class. Generally speaking a design cycle first figures out what a problem is, then brainstorms possible solutions, followed by putting those solutions into action and finally evaluating what worked or didn’t. Chapter 4 in our textbook uses a 3 step cycle called ACE; Analyze, Create, and Evaluate. The introduction image I chose to work on this week had many design challenges and I worked through this cycle a few times, completely switching directions at one point.

GS Intro.png

The image I created is an introduction image to the unit. My class (HS GenTech students) has an established procedure where we analyze any materials we have in the upcoming unit and we come up with the unit’s vocabulary words as a class. For this assignment, I created a graphic organizer for students to use during the process. They will use this handout during other vocab assignments (assuming they do not lose it) as their word bank.

For the design, I am using the same header as last week to keep consistency in my design and create flow throughout the unit. Since this is a worksheet that will get collected, graded, and returned, there is a section for student info in the upper right corner. I am also using a similar layout format with the rounded rectangles to chunk info. Based on class feedback, this time I’ve included numbers to indicate order. The trickiest part for me was laying out the two input sections. The final vocab table needed 10 cells for words which make it an awkward size and the brainstorm table needed a bit of instruction making that arrangement awkward. I’m mostly happy with how the pieces settled into place. While I would prefer the sections to be flipped do to order of use but I feel like the students will be ok with it since they are already familiar with the procedure. The awkward spacing of these sections provided a funny gap that I filled with a superfluous clipart image. While I don’t feel that the image is needed, the worksheet does seem to lack something without it.