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To combat high dropout rates and low motivation for online courses, we gamified a history of science course. To do so, we used an online educational program called 3DGameLab to convert what had been a well-liked face-to-face lecture and discussion course to an online format, for the purposes of long-distance teaching and learning. Within 3DGameLab, we prepared approximately three times as much content as would be taught in a face-to-face class. Clear tasks and immediate rewards in the form of experience points (XP) contributed to a transparent motivational system as compared to traditional grading. In this course, students completed their assignments asynchronously. Sustaining engagement is challenging in this format due to student self-management, but, with the game mode, students could repeat their attempts to pass a quest (a lesson) until they succeed (submit a passable response). The feedback cycle was short, and we found that students tend to persevere in the face of failure when they get rapid feedback, rather than quit. To test the adaptability of the asynchronous, gamified format, we also designed this course as a hybrid course. Students remained engaged when the feedback was quick, and the tasks were clearly set. We did not perform a quantitative study; the purpose of this article is to share a design study of our methods and subsequent experience with these modalities.
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