Level 5: Gamification

Gamification is a technique that has become very popular in CALL. Making the course more like a video game motivates many students; even if the methods may seem unsophisticated, they often turn out to work surprisingly well.

CALL-SLT provides tools to enable simple gamification of courses using scores and badges. The student starts each lesson with a specified score. They lose points every time they get a response rejected or have to skip a step because they have run out of tries, but gain points if they use phrases the course designer wishes to encourage. If they have enough points left at the end of the lesson, they get a credit towards their next badge; there are four badge levels, starting at “plain” and then moving through “bronze”, “silver” and “gold”. A tab in the browser’s display shows the badges the student has collected during the current course.

To include gamification, the course designer needs to add the following declarations:

  1. A line in each Lesson which has badges saying what badge pictures to use, for example:

    Name           hotel
    PrintName      Hotel booking
    Description    Simple hotel booking dialogue
    Badges         default
    Script         hotel_booking_script

The default value in the Badges line means that the badges displayed will be the standard ones. Alternatively, course designer can draw their own badges or download clip-art, and then declare the customized badges. This may seem like wasted effort; but gamification, as noted, is a powerful motivator, and students seem to be more motivated by pretty badges.

  1. A declaration in the Course unit to specify how many times the student is allowed to attempt each step, what the starting value is for the score (by default, 100), what the penalties are for being rejected or for missing a step completely, and how many points are needed for each of the different badges. The following illustrates typical values:

    Name           english_course
    Languages      french german
    MaxTries       2
    StartScore     100
    RejectPenalty  2
    SkipPenalty    5
    PlainBadge     0
    BronzeBadge    0
    SilverBadge    90
    GoldBadge      100
  2. Definitions for bonus phrases. A typical PhraseScore declaration looks like this:

    Phrase would like to
    Score 2

and says that the student will acquire 2 bonus points for using any response including the phrase “would like to”.