Sample image of 2012 TLT Symposium buttonAt the 2012 TLT Symposium, members of the Symposium Program team, Symposium Rogue team, and EGC jointly created specialized buttons, which were handed out to participants who exhibited certain behaviors throughout the day.  In this case, the buttons were a physical representation of a feedback mechanism commonly used in games. Known by several names including badges, trophies, or achievements, “buttons” irrespective of their form, are designed change or encourage certain behaviors in the player. “Buttons” can be awarded for very clear criteria presented to the player beforehand as a motivator to change behavior, or can be stumbled upon by accident as a reward for experimentation, persistence, completion, etc. Because “button” systems often transcend a single game, they can provide a history of your personal activities, enriching opportunities for personal reflection.

In addition to their potential for reinforcement and reflection, “button” systems also come with a natural social component. Like its peer systems in games, the symposium buttons are meant to be a visible display of accomplishment – something which when seen, can insight curiosity, conversation, competition, or appoint status among peers. “Button” systems almost never provide direct benefit to the gameplay experience, nor are they inherently about “winning”. But they can represent a method of personal reflection or social interaction, which in some cases can be more motivational than the games or experiences they are tied to.

The use of buttons at the TLT symposium is an example of gamification – using game like elements in non game contexts to change or inspire a certain behavior. And the approach is not unique to this venue – consider girl or boy scout merit badges or military pins and medals. Mozilla’s open badge infrastructure is an example of how this concept is being applied broadly in an educational context.

Though we distributed buttons at this event based on specific meanings (described below), the buttons were designed with a degree of ambiguity to allow you to ascribe your own meaning to them, or use them in your own classes in a way that suits your purposes.


Button Purpose Earned By
RegistrationTLT Symposium 2012 Registration button To introduce the button concept, to insure that all attendees earned something, a reinforcement of the symposium hashtag, and a means of thanking all attendees. Checking in on the day of the event. (Occurrence: Common)
RoadWarriorTLT Symposium 2012 Road Warrior button To acknowledge attendees from non UP locations for making the effort to travel in for the event. Checking in on the day of the event after traveling from a non-UP campus (Occurrence: Uncommon)
QuestioningTLT Symposium 2012 Questioning button To acknowledge those who ask questions during the course of the event – a behavior which organizers wish to encourage. Asking a question during the course of the event (Occurrence: Common)
ConnectingTLT Symposium 2012 Connecting button To acknowledge those who have “enthusiastically networked” – a behavior which organizers wish to encourage. Showing enthusiasm with others (laughing, smiling, networking) in the presence of a button ambassador during breaks at the Symposium. (Occurrence: Common)
InnovatourTLT Symposium 2012 Innovatour button To acknowledge those who attended the “Innovatour” the Friday before the Symposium. Take the “Innovatour” the Friday before the Symposium. (Occurrence: Uncommon)
GrowthTLT Symposium 2012 Growth button To acknowledge those who visited the demo area, consultation room, or arcade in an effort to expand their own horizons – a behavior which organizers wish to encourage. Visit the demo room, consultation area, or arcade and speak to any of the staff on hand. (Occurrence: Rare)
SharingTLT Symposium 2012 Sharing button To acknowledge those who shared their thoughts of experiences at the symposium- a behavior which organizers wish to encourage. Recording thoughts at the 1 button studio, or (given by mail) to those who tweeted, blogged, tagged pictures, or created another form of public reflection using the symposium hashtag. (Occurrence: Epic)
KapowTLT Symposium 2012 Kapow button For unspecified acts of exceptional-ism. Be exceptional. In unspecified ways. (Occurrence: Legendary)
The use of buttons at the 2012 TLT Symposium was inspired by the work Natron Baxter http://bit.ly/shmoozl.

2 Responses to Buttons

  1. […] I am very happy to report that we successfully completed this game in 3 minutes and 38 seconds. I brought the introduction as a whole in under 10 minutes, so it all worked out well. The introduction itself was designed to perform some of the ideas that Jane went on to present in such a compelling way. http://gaming.psu.edu/gamification/buttons/ […]

  2. […] was designed to perform some of the ideas that Jane went on to present in such a compelling way. http://gaming.psu.edu/gamification/buttons/ Posted in Academic, Education, […]

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