Our team recently added a Level Up! block to some of our Moodle courses. I plan on reporting back on our experience to this community after we identify practical tips and lessons learned. For now, I can provide a quick overview of this resource. Level Up! is a Moodle block plug-in. It aims to promote course interest by tallying learner experience points for participation in course activities and resources. It displays progress visually in a Moodle block. This gamification feature may increase student engagement and participation. Some may argue that using the term gamification is a bit of a stretch, but course participants compete against themselves and possibly other students as they progress through the course.
From the learners’ perspective, they launch their course and are often greeted with a new Level Up! update as there are ten levels set for each course by default. Course participants can view their progress through a visual badge, a progress bar and a points tally in the Level Up! Block. Students can also view their relative class rankings, if allowed by the course administrator. All students are treated equally, so each is rewarded for their actions based on the same algorithm and rules.
From the teachers’ perspective there are a few key Level Up! features to be aware of, these are:
- Levels and Badges
- Action Points Rewards
- Leader Ladder
- Progress Report
- Cheat Guard
Levels and Badges
Level Up! can be used as a means of quickly identifying student progress during a course. Students can glance at the Level Up! block on their course to see the badge displayed, the progress bar and points count. Teachers can look at the Level Up! Class report to see learner status. Teachers can use this as an efficient means of identifying at risk students, class mean progress and high-flyers in the course.
Level Up! Arrives with four default level badge theme sets. These are pictured in the blog masthead image. These are:
- Standard (Stars)
- Shape Ninjas
Instructor-developers can create their own graphical sets and position them in a course or across multiple courses. This necessitates some graphic design skill. I used SnagIt’s graphical numbering feature, “Step” to quickly generate a set and loaded it within a few minutes. More skilled or ambitious developers can generate sets using Photoshop, Illustrator or locate sets in repositories such as Shutterstock.
Action Points Rewards
Corresponding to the visual badges are the levels. A displayed badge in the Level Up! Block maps directly to the experience points earned by a student. When the Level Up! Block is activated on a Moodle course, a default set of points rules are applied along with a default algorithm for separating the course into levels. Course administrators can customize levels using Level Up’s default algorithm. This is based on calculations for each level’s point requirements based on the number of levels and course completion total points. Course administrators can change the number of levels, for example in a short course there may only be a need for five levels.
If a course administrator feels confident, they may want to ignore the Level Up! algorithm and set all level point requirements manually. Please be cautious if attempting this.
The course administrator can also define the weight of activity rewards in terms points. For example, an instructor may want to reward specific writing tasks with more generosity than other kinds of writing tasks. By default, points are rewarded by four kinds of experience events (CRUD):
- Creation 45 points
- Reading 9 points
- Updating 3 points
- Deleting 0 points
Events are units of information describing interactions in a Moodle course. Student events which earn experience points are the result of their actions while on the course. There are dozens of possible student events. A few examples are:
- blog entry added
- comment created
- course module viewed
- discussion created
- question viewed
- question answered
- BigBlueButton meeting joined
- BigBlueButton meeting left
Based on the CRUD criterion, points are earned for these actions.
Instructors can use the Level Up! class Leader Ladder to encourage competition between course participants. Instructors can limit the appearance of other students to relative positions. A student would only be able to see the student in the list just above and below them on the ladder. As well, instructors can set names to be anonymous in the Ladder. Instructors can use the Ladder to identify at risk learners and class progress at specific intervals in the course.
The Level Up! Report displays a listing of course participants with information that includes an avatar, full name, current level, current experience points and a progress bar indicating points remaining to complete the course. The report can be exported into five format for administrative purposes.
The Cheat guard can be toggled on or off in the Level Up! Block Settings. It prevents learners from earning experience points by repeating learning events or clicking through the same event over a short period of time.
We are hoping that the Level Up! Block adds value to the learning experience for our students. If you have any experience or comments regarding this plug in, please comment below.