This week marks the end of the Gamification course I enrolled in on Coursera. Part of the reason I took this course in the first place was to take a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) for a spin and see what the experience was like.

This particular course, taught by Kevin Werbach (author of For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business), was recommended to me by another follower of gamification, Scott Nicholson. As a marketer with a background in the gaming industry, I find the idea of gamification compelling, and so this was a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

As a working Mom, it’s the first time I’ve enrolled in a class in ages. The workload, though reasonable and clearly spelled out in the course description, was unexpectedly challenging. Kids, if you’re going to go to college, do it before you settle down! It’s SO much harder later on in life. 🙂 I got used to it, though.

The class was available for free, but I opted to pony up the $50 for the “Signature Track” option and get the “Verified Certificate” instead of just the “Statement of Accomplishment”. What wasn’t made entirely clear was whether or not I became ineligible for the Verified Certificate by completing several of the quizzes on a computer that lacked a webcam. We’ll see. Coursera also requires you to type in their Honor Code each time you submit a quiz or assignment, so in theory the typing pattern can be used for verification, too.

Professor Kevin Werbach introduces his Gamification course

Professor Kevin Werbach introduces his Gamification course

The class ran for 11 weeks, and consisted of video lectures, weekly quizzes, three written assignments, and a final exam. Participants were also supposed to go to the discussion forums to discuss specific topics around each lecture on the forums. I did do this, but not often, as it was hard to identify what thread I should be discussing a given week’s material in. I found the forums only marginally useful.

One thing I wasn’t crazy about was the peer grading, and the fact that the professor probably never saw any of my three assignments. I’m used the the more personal attention of a college setting. As I understand it there were around 4,000 people taking this MOOC, so it’s simply not possible for a teacher to grade that many assignments personally. And besides, the peers that graded my assignments did a good job, with thoughtful comments and fair point assignments. I was just bummed because, especially on the second and third assignments, I felt very proud of my work and wanted to show it off. The written assignments were my favorite part of the course.

It wasn’t required, but I purchased For the Win to have on hand as a companion text since it covers the same material. It’s a good book, though the section that outlines the distinctions between game components, elements, and mechanics didn’t really define the differences all that clearly to me. Nor did the course, I’m still not entirely sure which is which, and really, it doesn’t matter for practical application of the lessons learned. The book and the course give a good overview about gamification, why it works, what bad gamification is, and how to avoid it.

Overall, I enjoyed the course. It was comprehensive, and I learned a lot. I was also able to put the knowledge to practical use right away, because it just so happens my company has a project that they’d already begun adding game elements to. I jumped in with my newly acquired knowledge and recommendations, and as of now I’m in charge of the gamification of that product. That’s very gratifying.

When I ask myself, “Would I enroll in another Coursera MOOC?” the answer is yes. I would also consider the signature track option again, especially if I felt the course subject was relevant or potentially relevant to my career. I’m not sure, however, that this form of education could save me from having to put my kids through college.

At least, not yet.


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