This is the planned syllabus for the Coursera massive open online course on Gamification, taught by Professor Kevin Werbach (@kwerb) from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The course is divided into 12 units, which are in turn divided into short video lecture segments. Think of each unit as one class session in an in-person course: there are two units per week, each of which includes 45-60 minutes of material. There are also quizzes, written assignments, and a final exam with specific due dates.

The course is completely free, and there are no required texts. You may find Prof. Werbach's book For the Win helpful, as it mostly covers the same topic areas of the course, in greater detail and with additional examples and frameworks. It is available in ebook and paperback format from Wharton Digital Press. In the syllabus below, there are links to other suggested readings and videos for further insights into the topics.

1] What is Gamification?

After the introductory material on the course, the first topic we need to cover is what gamification actually means. As we’ll see, there isn’t universal agreement. However, there are a set of concepts and examples that are clearly within the scope of gamification.

Optional Materials

  • Sebastian Deterding, et al, From Game Design Elements to Gamefulness: Defining “Gamification”, Proceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference, 2011 (Academic paper offering a straightforward definition of gamification. I use a chart from this article in one of the lectures.)
  • Jesse Schell, Design Outside the Box, 2010 DICE conference presentation video. (Hilarious and provocative talk about the potential of gamification, which jumpstarted interest in the concept. A clip appears in one of the lectures.)
  • Deloitte, Gamification: Gaming Gets Serious, Tech Trends 2012 (A nice overview of gamification as a business technique by a major consulting firm.)

2] Games

You can't understand gamification without understanding games. This unit explains why the concept of games is deeper than most people realize, and the game-based foundations for gamification.

Optional Materials

WEEK 1 HOMEWORK: Quiz (due April 14)

3] Game Thinking

The ways game designers approach their craft is also the way to tackle a gamification project. Seeing situations through the lens of game design is an essential skill in this area.

Optional Materials

4] Game Elements

The raw materials of games and gamification are called game elements. We'll earn how to break down a game into its constituent parts and apply them to create gamified systems.

Optional Materials

WEEK 2 HOMEWORK: Quiz; Written assignment 1 (due April 14)

5] Psychology and Motivation I: Behaviorism

Gamification is a technique for motivation, so it ties very directly into psychology. This unit introduces the behavioral psychology concepts relevant to gamification.

Optional Materials

  • David Freedman, The Perfected Self, The Atlantic, June 2012 (A defense of modern online behavioral techniques. Not specific to gamification, but addresses the same concepts covered in the lectures.)
  • Tom Chatfield, 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain, TEDGlobal 2010 (Video illustrating ways games design rewards to motivate behavior.)

6] Psychology and Motivation II: Beyond Behaviorism

The previous unit explains the benefits of a behavioral approach to gamification; this one identifies the risks and alternatives.

Optional Materials

WEEK 3 HOMEWORK: Quiz; Written assignment 2 (due April 21)

7] Gamification Design Framework

Gamification done well is a form of design. This unit provides a six-step framework to apply to any gamification project.

8] Design Choices

Saying that gamification is a form of design means that it should involve a creative, human-centered, thoughtful process to achieve the best results. This unit identifies important considerations and options.

Optional Materials

WEEK 4 HOMEWORK: Quiz (due April 28); Written assignment 3 (due May 5)

9] Enterprise Gamification

Particular challenges and opportunities when applying gamification inside an organization.

Optional Materials

10] Social Good and Behavior Change

How to apply gamification to make the world better, or to improve people's well-being, primarily through behavior change techniques.

Optional Materials

WEEK 5 HOMEWORK: Work on Written Assignment 3 (due May 5)

11] Critiques and Risks

There are many legitimate limitations, concerns, and dangers from gamification. Some of them can be avoided through thoughtful design, but others must be considered directly in any implementation.

Optional Materials

12] Beyond the Basics

The final unit details gamification-related techniques that go beyond those covered throughout the course, and concludes with a look toward the future.

Optional Materials

FINAL EXAM (due May 12)