Organization change theory believes there are individuals, “champions”, who push an organization past its comfort zone into new territory. Champions may be faced with a challenge that they don’t know how to solve, but will say, “We’ll figure it out”.
On college campuses, IT champions can help educators embrace gamification. Supports of gamification believe it offers just as many benefits for college students as K-12 students. Well-designed games boost student engagement, build critical thinking skills by requiring students to plan and strategize, and clarify abstract concepts that may be hard to grasp from reading and lecture alone. For students currently in an online course, gaming provides opportunities for collaboration and teamwork.
Despire these benefits, faculty who are new to gamification may be hesitant to jump in. Professors might ask questions about where to start or how to ensure games deliver educational benefit. This is an opportunity for IT professionals (campus champions) to identify potential academic partners.
Edwin Lindsay, a teaching assistant professor in North Carolina State University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, noticed students in his Introduction to Sports Management course lacked realistic expectations of future career paths. Lindsay partnered with NCU’s Distance Education & Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) to develop a gamification module. Lindsay and Stephen Bader, a business and technology applications specialist, created a Moodle plugin that lets students pursue one of 10 career paths by winning points within 14 skill sets. The game helps students identify skills they need to develop and related courses they can take to enhance those skills.
Linsay did not intentionally become a gamification champion, he eventually became one. His successful partnership with DELTA inspired gamification courses in NCSU’s horticulture department.
Champions Lead The Way
Champions help organizations thrive by understanding and sharing a vision: How have other institutions successfully brought gamification to the classroom? What benefits can it offer students in specific disciplines? How can a faculty/IT partnership pay off outside the classroom?
Champions are facilitators when colleagues are hesitant to embrace new technology, champions help them navigate unfamiliar territory. After faculty member or department rolls out gamification, champions help stakeholders extract lessons learned and help improve the process to make the transition easier.