There are several gamification techniques that offer deeper levels of student engagement and agency over learning experience. One such technique is quest-based learning. In the whitepaper Understanding Quest-Based Learning, Haskell (2013), offers this summary:
“Digital games, for example, offer experiences that are vastly different from traditional educational experiences despite the amount of learning that takes place (Gee, 2011). Games frequently offer multiple pathways, personalized rather than comparative progress tracking, recognition of progress and success through badges and achievements, and allow participants to fail without lasting punishment. Also, feedback in gaming environments is instantaneous. These elements contribute to the attractiveness of games. In Figure 1, we see how these attributes can be overlayed on the education process by comparing a traditional, linear grade-book based learning to a non-traditional, non-linear quest-based learning approach.”
The principle gamification element in quest-based learning is choice. Choice gives students a sense of agency in how they can approach course material; advanced students can either move quickly through foundational material or skip it altogether while other students may choose a path that reinforces or repeats necessary modules.
This is what a choice / quest based learning environment looks like. 3 kids sitting next to each other – 1 working on a #MinecraftEdu quest, one cranking out #gml code for @YoYoGames #GameMakerStudio2 and one analyzing @StarCraft for a game review #stuchoice FTW! pic.twitter.com/YY4LVeSVyV
— Steven Isaacs (@mr_isaacs) October 9, 2018
While quest-based learning has much to offer as a flexible, personalized and engaging learning model for students, it does require a deeper level of commitment from the instructor. Traditional textbooks often take a linear model approach and may not be suited for QBL. Open educational resources (OERs) may help to address this concern (link to OER module). Also, while QBL may be best suited to online learning, a modified or hybrid approach might make sense even in a face-to-face delivery model.
Quest-based learning in Nursing
Next term Laura will be using quest-based learning in a class of about 80 students. After three weeks of foundational teaching students will be given a series of quests that they can complete in any order they want. These quests are meant to teach concepts that are linked to course outcomes. At the end of the course, these concepts will be tested. In-class time will be used for application activities and discussion of assignments in which students will be applying course concepts. After week three students will be acting as discussion leaders by identifying what concepts from their quests apply to different scenarios in class.