We all spend time playing games. According to vertoanalytics.com, we spend more than a billion hours per month playing mobile games and that doesn’t include games played on laptops, desktops or with game consoles.1 According to the entertainment software association, in 2015, 65% of US households had at least one person who played online games, three hours or more per week. 2

Based on this, one of an educator’s biggest decisions may be how to take advantage of gaming techniques in his or her class. Gaming is all about problem-solving, surviving challenges and gaining achievements that can be used to your advantage, which—when it comes down to it—is what life’s all about, right? How do we leverage game mechanics in our courses to provide students with challenges while allowing them to practice and prepare for life after classes?


One type of gaming is the concept of earning points or achievements to make it to the next level or receiving a “badge” for accomplishing a set of goals. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You’re already doing this when you create assessments: setting up certain criteria and asking for students to prove they are meeting criterion based on guidelines you provide. Setting up a badging mechanism for required elements in your course is one thing, but what about using game mechanics to get students excited and motivated to achieve at a higher level?

Learn more: http://elearning.uaf.edu/go/badging-whatis

You could give badges or certificates for:

  • Key milestones for scaffolding success
  • Attending office hours
  • Extra credit work
  • Learning and experiences outside of the class or institution
  • Recognition for points earned, not lost
  • Being a good cohort or leader
  • Completing non-required assessments
  • Collateral learning: learning a new technological interface for interacting with course materials, etc.
  • Repetition of assessment until perfection obtained—bronze, silver, gold level or similar criteria met

If you wish to incorporate badging or leveling-up strategies in your course, remember these important elements: the summary of the criteria and the proof required for meeting the criterion necessary to achieve the badge. Don’t dumb down achievements. Make them meaningful. A badge for just showing up doesn’t do our students any good.3


eLearning Success Lab: Log into Blackboard first, then view this link:  http://elearning.uaf.edu/go/online-success-lab

How a person may receive a badge or certificate in the success lab


Integrate badges and certificates in your course through a feature in Blackboard called Achievements; Blackboard will help you managing the distribution. Set up criteria based on dates, membership activity in a group, grades, completions or review status. Watch this video on achievements to get started: http://elearning.uaf.edu/go/bb-badging


iTeachU: What is gaming ( https://goo.gl/4EIhMO )

iTeachU: Badging ( https://goo.gl/FrfLQw )

http://elearning.uaf.edu/go/bb-badging-casestudy for Blackboard case studies.


1 2016 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data: Essential facts about the computer and video game industry. Retrieved from 2016 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data: Essential facts about the computer and video game industry.
2 Murdock, A. 2016. Consumers Spend More than 1 Billion Hours a Month Playing Mobile Games. Verto analytics. Retrieved from http://www.vertoanalytics.com/consumers-spend-1-billion-hours-month-playing-mobile-games/.
3 Mead, D. 2016. Good Job on doing the thing, but there will be no ribbon. Wellington Daily News. Retrieved from http://essentialfacts.theesa.com/Essential-Facts-2016.pdf