Out of a desire to renew the training formula that we offer to teachers each session, we decided to introduce them to gamification. To do this, we created a course site on Sharepoint and offered a hybrid professional development course spanning the entire session.
Rethinking professional development
Like many CEGEPs, the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire du Québec (ITAQ) offers various trainings for teachers throughout the semester. However, we have observed a slight drop in the participation rate for these one-time training sessions. We felt that the formula of one-hour training sessions during pedagogical days or reading week was running out of steam. We therefore undertook to renew our way of training teachers on various pedagogical themes to:
- increase the retention rate during training
- better measure the impact of our training on the field
To help teachers develop their digital skills, we wanted to explore new pedagogical approaches while allowing teachers to test new digital tools.
A hybrid approach to professional development
We looked for a structured way to deliver training over the entire session. We opted for a distance learning format combining synchronous meetings and asynchronous activities.
Several teachers had expressed an interest in learning more about gamification of teaching and learning. This seemed to be an appropriate topic for testing this new training format.
During an information meeting to present our project to interested teachers, about twenty volunteer teachers decided to participate in our training. These teachers committed themselves to devote 1 to 2 hours per month to the asynchronous activities and 1 hour to the monthly synchronous meeting.
Welcome, Jedi apprentice!
Building on the theme of Star Wars, we created a course site using Sharepoint for our community of “gamifiers.”
We chose Sharepoint because many teachers at our college were moving away from Moodle to Teams and we wanted to find an option in the Microsoft Office 365 suite. We imagined and designed our Sharepoint as a traditional digital learning environment.
We designed our Sharepoint site through the Teams team we created for our training.
Four levels of training
The training has been divided into 4 levels. Each level has a general objective that will be achieved through the completion of a series of tasks.
The levels follow Bloom’s taxonomy:
- Level 1 aims to understand gamification
- Level 2 presents digital tools to facilitate the gamification of a course
- Level 3 is about planning a gamified activity
- Level 4 is dedicated to the production of the activity
For example, in Level 1, participants will discover:
- a video incorporating questions in Stream [in French]
- an escape game designed using Genially
- a gamified activity using H5P
At the end of each level, participants are asked to submit a brief contribution to validate the completion of the level. For example, for level 1, a Forms questionnaire related to the activities carried out was sent to the teachers.
Badges to motivate
To motivate participants and illustrate their progress, we introduced a system of in-house badges.
One of the pages of our Sharepoint site is the player page. Each participant has a fun thumbnail with their fictional Star Wars character and their level in the training.
Teachers can see the progress of their peers and motivate each other.
A forum to exchange
To encourage exchange and collaboration within our community of gamifiers, we have created a forum using Yammer. This plugin replicates the interface of well-known social networks. The forum can be pinned to a Teams channel or, in our case, to our Sharepoint environment.
Investing time in professional development
Whether it’s putting together a new course or training, it takes time. We spent much of the summer of 2021 designing our training resources. We estimate that it took us about 60 hours each to create our gamification learning environment and resources.
Improvements in sight
We are already thinking about some improvements we could make to our training, as our course is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs expressed by the teachers.
We would like to refine the activity tracking system. Sharepoint does not provide as much data as Moodle, for example, in terms of activity completion. We can only see how many times a document has been viewed, but it doesn’t tell us who viewed it or when. We are considering adding Microsoft Planner to Teams in the next iteration of our training. This will give us a more accurate picture of the tasks that participants have completed.
We would also like to set up a more structured system of digital badges than the one we currently have to motivate participants by granting them, for example, a badge after they have passed level 2. We are even thinking of introducing a digital badge system for all ITAQ training. This would be an interesting way of enhancing professional development for teaching staff.
A New Jedi Order
Our need to renew our training formula has led us to explore new tools and create a gamified learning environment for our teachers. By the end of the fall 2021 session, we will have trained about 20 Jedi Masters of Gamification!