PonG: Parcours on Gamification - How to Get Educators
Corinna Lehmann, Helge Fischer, Matthias Heinz and Josefin Mueller
Media Design Centre, Technische Universität Dresden, Strehlener Str. 22/24, 01069, Dresden, Germany
Keywords: Gamification Readiness, Gamification Framework, Train-the-Trainer, Game based Learning.
Abstract: This paper introduces the Parcours on Gamification (PonG), designed by the cluster Digital Learning and
Gaming Cultures of the Media Centre of the Technische Universität Dresden. The proposed concept
encompasses three main ideas. 1) It introduces the concept Gamification Readiness for educators as an
opportunity to self-reflect on the role and mindset needed to gamify a classroom. 2) It is a workshop concept
(train-the-trainer/educator) designed as a game itself that not only helps train educators but combines ideas of
game-design thinking with concepts of learner-centered frames. And 3) as a process model, it supports
educators to transfer their teaching content into gamified scenarios matched to their general conditions. PonG
is also designed to address the use of gamification in contexts independent of the educational institution. By
focusing on the trainer/teacher/educator, PonG enables them to adapt their own teaching-learning scenario
and enhance it with gamification elements. The main goal of PonG is to support educators to make their
classroom a creative playground and learning space by using game elements. As PonG is still in progress, the
paper gives an overview of its current development.
Games or single game elements do not only offer
entertainment but are also suitable for teaching to
motivate the learner. However, a look at educational
practice shows that educators are hesitant when it
comes to the use of game elements in formal
education in schools or institutions of higher
education. Many teachers and lecturers are often
sceptical about the possibilities of gamification or
don’t feel gamification-ready. The Parcours on
Gamification (PonG) is a train-the-trainer-concept
that aims to rediscover play as an intuitive learning
method, to expose games as a didactical method and
to support its transfer into classrooms. To increase the
intrinsic motivation of its participants the workshop
concept is designed to enable the participants to learn
about gamification through a gamified learning
environment, divided in different stages (Parcours).
Starting with defining specific terms with regards
to gamification, this paper focuses on introducing
Gamification Readiness of educators, the change
within the mindset of educators, and essential
competencies to gamify a classroom. In the third
section the PonG is defined and delineated and
includes an examination of its didactical basis. The
last section sums up this paper and gives a short
outlook on future steps.
1.1 Play, Game, Game-based Learning
and Gamification
To begin, defining the terms play, game, game-based
learning and gamification is essential, as these terms
are to be understood very differently. The origin of
learning through playing goes way back. In 1938
Johan Huizinga introduced the concept “homo
ludens” proposing that humans develop cultural
habits and understanding through playing as well as
they discover their own personality by making
experiences through play. “In play there is something
’at play‘ which transcends the immediate needs of life
and imparts meaning to the action. All play means
something” (Huizinga, 1951, p. 1). Huizinga
therefore characterises play as follows: “The need for
it is only urgent to the extent that the enjoyment of it
makes it a need. Play can be deferred or suspended at
any time. It is never imposed by physical necessity or
moral duty. It is never a task. […] it is free, is in fact
freedom. […] that play is not "ordinary" or "real" life.
It is rather a stepping out of "real" life into a
temporary sphere of activity with a disposition all of
Lehmann, C., Fischer, H., Heinz, M. and Mueller, J.
PonG: Parcours on Gamification - How to Get Educators Gamification-ready.
DOI: 10.5220/0009804406870693
In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Computer Supported Education (CSEDU 2020), pages 687-693
ISBN: 978-989-758-417-6
2020 by SCITEPRESS – Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
its own” (1951, p. 8). In contrary, the term “Game can
be defined as: A system in which players engage in
an abstract challenge, defined by rules, interactivity,
and feedback, that results in a quantifiable outcome
often eliciting an emotional reaction” (Kapp, 2012, p.
37). So game is, compared to play, a system where
rules are predefined to challenge the participant in a
pretended way. Guided by feedback a behavioural
change is the main and pre-set goal. But nevertheless,
game, as well as play, should be enjoyed by the
participant, should be able to transfer its content into
a fictional world and should activate. The evolution
of digital technologies and with it the evolution of
video games has lead to a “growing acceptance of
digital games as mainstream entertainment [and] has
raised the question of how to take advantage of the
promise of digital games for educational purposes”
(Plass et al., 2015, p. 258). This is the main idea of
Game-Based learning.
Kapp et al. define gamification as “Using game-
based mechanics, aesthetics, and game thinking to
engage people, motivate action, promote learning,
and solve problems […]” (Kapp et al., 2014, p. 410).
Whereas Deterding et al. use Gamification as “[…]
the use of game design elements in non-game
contexts” (Deterding et al., 2011, p. 9, italic in
original) and emphasize a design focus and equate
gameful design with gamification. As the proposed
Parcours aims to increase the use of game (design)
elements within educational institutions, both
definitions draw a frame around the topics educators
need to go through.
1.2 Not All that Glitters is Gold
In addition, as the Parcours on Gamification (PonG)
draws a holistic picture of its topic, it also highlights
possible side effects, e.g. the effect on the learner’s
motivation. Gamification is mostly focused on
positive effects, which makes the research gap on
negative effects visible (Koivisto & Hamari, 2019).
In a literature review of 386 papers, Majuri, Koivisto
and Hamari (2018) found that most studies on
Gamification are mainly positively oriented (297), 74
are null or equal positive and negative, and just 15 are
mainly negatively oriented. Most studies report on the
addorfance points, score, XP (52); leaderboards,
ranking (43); badges, achievements, medals, trophies
(39) and challenges, quests, missions, tasks, clear
goals (37), while the most negative quantitative were
leaderboards and ranking with 3 out of 43 (Majuri,
Koivisto & Hamari, 2018). In general, there are a lot
of studies on gamification design, but a big gap when
it comes to considering negative effects (Toda, Valle
& Isotani, 2018). There is only one study about
negative effects of gamification in an educational
context by a systematic mapping, which classifies the
negative outcomes and identifies the gamification
design (Toda, Valle & Isotani, 2018). Toda, Valle and
Isotani (2018) identified the four negative effects to
include loss of performance (identified in 12 studies),
undesired behavior (9), indifference (5) and declining
effects (5). The identified game elements influencing
negative effects are (Toda, Valle & Isotani, 2018):
Leaderboards (identified in 14 studies), badge (13),
point (12), level (9), progression (4), social status (4),
instant feedback (3), avatar (3), social interaction (2),
economy (1), challenge (1) and narrative (1). The
concentration on the Point-Badge-Leaderboard
(PBL) approach is visible and influences most of the
game designs, which makes the consideration of
individual profiles, instructional and motivational
design theories necessary (Toda, Valle & Isotani,
2018). This is what PonG has to consider as well, in
order to allow a realistic view on the potentials of
gamification in the classroom.
It is fundamental for educators to think about the
transition of their role before starting to gamify a
classroom. They need to be ready to gamify. This
term Gamification Readiness combines the
needed intrinsic motivation of educators for using
game elements, having the ability to think outside the
box and implement ideas creatively as well as the
knowledge on gamification. In a study by Mueller
(2019), four main competencies could be detected -
openness, creativity, holistic thinking and expertise -
and are explained in the following section.
Gamification Readiness relies on these competencies
as a foundation and works to expand them.
2.1 Knowledge is Power
Playful learning can create new demands in the field
of education while at the same time work to support
learning process. Therefore, educators are faced with
the challenge of designing creative game scenarios on
the one hand, and integrating the desired learning
contribution, as well as the overall educational
objective on the other. For the playful imparting of
learning content in order to keep the students
motivated and promote their learning process,
specific skills are required.
GonCPL 2020 - Special Session on Gamification on Computer Programming Learning
To determine which competencies educators are
specifically required for the use of gamification, an
empirical study was conducted between May and
August 2019. The aim of this study was to outline an
exemplary competence profile, which provides
information about the concrete skills and abilities
educators need to develop and implement for
gamification. A qualitative method was chosen for
the empirical study, because there is little previous
knowledge on the topic in literature and research.
Therefore, expert interviews were conducted to
obtain first results based on the experience of the
experts. In interviews of about 30 minutes six experts
were interviewed for this purpose. The sample
consisted of lecturers, project leaders and academic
staff who all are experienced in the development of
game-based applications and/or whose teaching and
research focus is on gamification and game-based
learning. The basis for the interviews was a
previously designed guideline which consisting of
four guiding questions. In addition to the interviews,
which were the primary source of data, a short
questionnaire was developed, which had to be
completed immediately after the interviews. The
questionnaire was based on the Competence Atlas by
John Erpenbeck and Volker Heyse (Heyse &
Erpenbeck, 2009, p. XIII). The scientists divide
competences into four basic competences, which they
differentiate again into 64 sub-competences. Using
the Competence Atlas, respondents should explicitly
name the competences they consider important for the
use of gamification.
To analyse the data material, the interviews were
first transcribed and then evaluated using the
qualitative content analysis by Kuckartz (2018). In
seven steps, the interview texts were initiated main
and sub-categories were formed deductively and
inductively, coded at the material, differentiated and
bundled. The evaluation and analysis process was
carried out by using the MAXQDA software. Due to
the small amount of data, the questionnaire was
evaluated with Excel. For this purpose, the results
were summed up and tabulated.
Based on the experience and information
provided by the experts, the following competencies
and prerequisites for the use of gamification were
identified from the interviews and the questionnaire.
Openness, Readiness for Change: Ability to
understand change as a learning situation and to act
accordingly; Being open to change, to new forms of
teaching and learning; Replacing old learning
formats; Ability to leave room for new reference
points; Adapt its actions to the changes; Acquiring the
resources necessary for change; Learning new tasks
and dealing with new technologies; eager to try out
new things.
Creativity: Ability to develop good and preferably
novel solutions to problems; Readiness to innovate;
Creation of something new and originality.
Comprehensive/Holistic Thinking: The ability to
incorporate other aspects into one's own objectives
and decision-making on the basis of sound
knowledge; Comprehensive view; Overview of the
entire concept; Consideration of diverse
interdependencies and other persons involved.
Expertise, Interdisciplinary Knowledge: Specific
knowledge about learning and games and the ability
to apply this knowledge; Know different types of
learners and players; Knowledge about the
characteristics of the game (game mechanics, flow
experience, incentive systems, game elements);
Consider different forms of learning (situated, action-
oriented learning); Integration of different constructs
and concepts for learning transfer (learning and
motivation theories, situated and action-oriented
learning); Media didactic knowledge.
Playing is fun. Playing motivates. In this way, an
interactive playful design and transformation of the
game elements into the real world can promote the
motivation and consequently the performance of the
students. Therefore, educators should replace
traditional teaching methods and be open to new ideas
in order to create new ways of teaching and learning.
In terms of gamification, this requires not only a
comprehensive overview, but especially creativity,
e.g. in storytelling. In addition, a general basic
understanding of games and game elements is
required and how these can be used in a targeted
manner. The listed competences are the first step
towards gamification.
2.2 Introducing Gamification
As stated before, Gamification Readiness is a
consumption of different concepts. Currently, as this
framework is still a work in progress, describing
Gamification Readiness focuses on the results of the
study by Mueller (2019) as well as on the concept of
“Visible Learning” by John Hattie as this last one
postulates the general switch within the role of
educators: “It is less what teachers do in their
teaching, but more how they think about their role. It
is their mind frames, or ways of thinking about
teaching and learning, that are most critical” (Hattie,
2015, p. 81). From his paper “Rankings and Effect-
Sizes for 195 Influences on Student Achievement”
PonG: Parcours on Gamification - How to Get Educators Gamification-ready
(Hattie, 2015) a few can be applied also to the
educators mindset needed for gamifying learning
content as shown in table 1.
Table 1: Influences on Student Achievement according to
Hattie transferred to Gamification Readiness.
Influences on Student
Transformation to
Gamification Readiness
Teacher estimates of
Define the goal of game
Classroom discussion
Solving a task together while
Teacher clarity Give clear rules/goals
Creativity programs
Being creative in transferring
learning outcomes
Gamification Readiness, therefore, emphasizes the
following summarized characteristics:
Being able to describe clearly the rules of a game
as well as the intended learning outcome
including the impact for the student is evident.
Being able to not show the learning path but to
guide learners on their self-chosen paths. Being
able to let go of past ways of teaching.
Being able to communicate that mistakes are
Being able to think creatively.
Being able to give individual and prompt
As Gamification Readiness is an important part of the
PonG, future work will lead to more detailed
competencies and descriptions.
PonG is all about being able to experience these
competencies through playing as well as getting to
know detailed information on how to use them for the
gamification of classrooms. In summary:
PonG is intended for train-the-trainer
It leads educators through steps of gamification,
e.g. how to create a gamified lesson or lecture.
One of the main characteristics of PonG is that it
inherently gamified as well. Hence, educators are
able to gain gaming experiences
(positive/negative) in the sense of a guided self-
reflection. This is needed for a learner
(participant/student/pupil) centered perspective
during their own conception process.
PonG is broad reaching, i.e. expandable.
Participants get to know the basic paradigms,
phases and steps to gamify a classroom, but there
is room left for individual extensions, e.g. the use
of special technologies, for instance a specific
learning management system.
PonG is a meta-framework, which takes up and
integrates existing frameworks and concepts or
their elements.
3.1 There is No Reason to Reinvent the
According to a non-representative literature review
on gamification of classrooms, game-based learning
models and gamifying learning content, structural
models as well as process models were researched.
For instance, the Mechanics, Dynamics and
Aesthetics (MDA) Framework “attempts to bridge
the gap between game design and development, game
criticism, and technical game research” (Hunicke et
al., 2004, Abstract). It is a structural model where
games are to be seen as artefacts designed to create
behaviour via interaction. Therefore, the MDA
frameworkformalizes the consumption of games
into three components: rules, system and fun and
establishes “design counterparts” for each:
Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics (Hunicke et al.,
2004, section MDA). As a result, the MDA
framework also points out two perspectives: the
designer´s perspective and the one of the player.
Designers have a look at mechanics first, the other
two (dynamics and aesthetics) are their product.
Whereas, players experience the aesthetics first which
“set the tone” (Hunicke et al., 2004, section MDA in
Detail). Other models that also follow the direction of
a structural model are, for example, the frameworks
by Chou and Kapp, as you can find in the systematic
review of gamification design frameworks by Mora
et. al (2017)
In contrary, the Learning Mechanics-Game
Mechanics (LM-GM) framework can be classified
between a pure structural and a pure process model as
it points out a “set of pre-defined game mechanics and
pedagogical elements” that help designers and
analysts to “identify and highlight […] main
pedagogical and entertainment features [of the
game]” (Lim et al., 2013, Abstract). Resulting in a
map, all learning mechanics and gaming mechanics
are matched, therefore be identified and help analyse
their relationships. It works as a basis for further steps
and for a process of creating a game.
In contrast Baldeon et al. introduced A LEarner-
centered GAmification Design Framework (LEGA),
which takes into account that “game-based thinking
and game mechanics within the classroom” needs to
focus on “educational aspects such as intended
GonCPL 2020 - Special Session on Gamification on Computer Programming Learning
learning outcomes [...], learning styles […], learning
activities […] and learning mechanics […] (Baldeon
et al., 2016, Abstract). Unlike the LM-GM framework
LEGA aims to guide teachers through a process
starting with their intended learning outcomes and
learning activities and transfer these into “suitable
gamified learning mechanics” (Baldeon et al., 2016).
Within this category Marczewskis (2014)
frameworks can be named as well, because it is a
useful guide to approach the topic of gamification.
Other models that need to be considered in future
work are shown in Kim and Lee (2015) as well as in
Wongso, Rosmansyah and Bandung (2014).
3.2 Using Design Thinking as Core of
The frameworks mentioned above represent three
thematic focuses that are to be addressed in the PonG:
1) developing a game or incorporating game
elements, adopting different perspectives (designer
and player/learner), 2) creating a balance between
playing and learning, and 3) instructions for
implementing learning goals through play (as a whole
game or using game elements). As this paper shows
the state-of-the-art, these subjects will be extended
within the future work.
In order to put these thematic focuses into a
creative workshop-context, the method of design
thinking will serve as a template for the stations of the
PonG. Design thinking is a creative and problem-
solving method, which focuses on collaborative
works and triggers solutions by changing the points
of view. This method helps educators to get into a
creative process where they get to experience the
switch into the role of the learner (dSchool, 2010).
Design thinking also helps educators to identify their
own learning goals and define learning outcomes as
well as to creatively discover how to meet them. A
peculiarity of design thinking results from its
dynamics. The rigid sequence of linear development
processes becomes an iterative procedure, with the
learner in the center, as for instance the use of design
thinking methods for learner experience in game
based learning projects (Schade et. al (2019). The
development of gamification scenarios should not
only convey knowledge, but also arouse positive
emotions, which require a strong orientation of
development processes to the individual requirements
of the learner and the characteristics of the learning
environment. Therefore, the current work is to
translate the stages of design thinking into the
intended Workshop stations and to gamify them.
As follows, the six stages are introduced as well
as methods/items are listed that are to be taught to
educators during PonG. Cited research works
exemplify the scientific basis for every stage.
Understand: An effective method can only be found
if the learning situation has really been understood.
That is why the first step in design thinking is to
understand the situation. Methods/Items:
Stakeholders and their relation; learning environment
and technical equipment; needs and expectations.
Example for scientific basis of this step: user analysis
(Morschheuser, Werder, Hamari & Abe, 2018)
Empathize: In the second phase, the aim is to find out
the needs, fears, perspectives and emotions of the
people involved in the learning situation.
Methods/Items: Player type and learning style
(learner); teaching style, Gamification Readiness,
resources (teacher). Example for scientific basis of
this step: Marczewski, 2014. Gamification
Define: In this phase, the most important insights
from the first two phases "understand" and "empathy"
are merged to derive requirements. Methods/Items:
Learning goals and learning journey; curriculum and
learning content. Example for scientific basis of this
step: Bloom's Revised Taxonomy.
Ideate: The systematic development of ideas is one of
the most important phases in the development of
gamified learning arrangements. Methods/Items:
Game elements and game strategies; balance between
game and learning mechanics; tools and
infrastructure. Example for scientific basis of this
step: GameFlow (Sweetser & Wyeth, 2005); Key
Characteristics of a Learning Game (Malone, 1981).
Prototype: Prototyping is at the heart of the creative
process. The results of the previous phases in that
stage are converted into a tangible product.
Methods/Items: Visualisations and role play; paper
and digital Prototypes; learner feedback. Example for
scientific basis of this step: Prototype development
(Schade, Heinz, Fischer & Schulz, 2019).
Implement: The implementation phase is about trying
out the gamified learning scenario in practice and
getting feedback from learners. Methods/Items: User
tests and user statistics; Evaluation and assessment;
Observation and reflection. Example for scientific
basis of this step: Evaluation and user statistics of a
gamified service (Heinz, Fischer, Heitz &
Breitenstein, 2018).
PonG: Parcours on Gamification - How to Get Educators Gamification-ready
3.3 Learning about Games by Playing
The PonG is designed as a Parcour of games, so
participants learn about gamification while they play
games. To illustrate this, the station empathize is
taken as example. “Empathy is the foundation of
human-centered design. The problems you´re trying
to solve are rarely your own, they´re those of
particular users. Build empathy for your users by
learning their values” (dSchool, 2010). Supported
with papers, scissors, pens, glue, etc. participants of
PonG will design personas, including their identity
and information about their life (age, profession,
hobbies, favourite food, needs, fears, etc.). In role-
plays one participant puts himself/herself in a persona
and can be interviewed by the others. The aim is to
get a detailed picture of the target group and its
environment, probably some inside information that
help to understand the learners, including their needs
and difficulties. Another option is to introduce
participants to the Gamification Player/User Types
HEXAD Model by Marczewski (2014) and
characterise every player-type in detail. Afterwards
the participants play the well-known board game
"Mensch ärgere dich nicht" (board game “Ludo”),
whereby each person embodies a different player-
type and lives it out in the game.
The use of game elements in non-gaming contexts
allows new didactical and motivation horizons that
promise a high potential also in the education sector,
independent of the educational institution. In order to
exploit this potential, the PonG will focus on
educators as the “executing” stakeholders. The aim of
PonG is to give them the opportunity to learn about
gamification while experiencing a gamified
workshop. PonG tries to go a new way, in which
different topics (also critical points concerning
gamification) are explored by the educators
themselves using the creative method of design
thinking. The special focus on Gamification
Readiness allows teachers to reflect on whether the
needed competencies, mindset and change of role can
be carried into the classroom. Future tasks will be to
develop more items for all stages, relate scientific
approaches to each item as well as to transfer every
stage into games. In the second half of 2020 the
concept will be tested in pilot workshops, e.g. at the
Hochschuldidaktisches Zentrum Sachsen (didactic
centre for institutions of higher education in Saxony,
a German federal state). The evaluation after every
trial will show, if the concept is working and what to
improve. By this iterative process, with the scientific
literature on frameworks and within the cluster
Digital Learning and Gaming Cultures it should be
possible to create an adequate workshop for educators
to sensitive them for the use of game elements in
learning environments, and as a consequence, to
make them gamification ready.
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PonG: Parcours on Gamification - How to Get Educators Gamification-ready