“It Helped to Know I Wasn't Alone”: Exploring Student Satisfaction in an Online Community with a Gamified, Social Media-Like Instructional Approach

Suzanne Ensmann, Aimee L Whiteside


This descriptive study offers lessons learned from students’ experiences with a gamified, social media-like instructional approach in eighteen courses from spring 2021 through spring 2022.  Researchers at a mid-sized university in the southeastern United States leveraged Christensen’s (2011) disruptive innovation theory as a guiding framework to explore student satisfaction with this instructional method. This first phase of the study measures learner satisfaction with this approach using the Ritzhaupt (2019) Electronic Learning Satisfaction Survey (eLSS).  Preliminary results suggest that learners (n=145) rated their experience with this disruptive technology above average on all Likert scale questions on the eLSS. Identified best practices for instructional design using similar approaches include repeating the game rules, reframing the purpose beyond the game, helping students appreciate their community, guiding students to lead their own posts and gain reactions, and thwarting those trying to game the system. Initial findings across multiple courses suggest that instructors can leverage the gameful experience and social media-like engagement to foster critical connections and increase course satisfaction. 


Gameful experience, gamification, social media, social presence, disruptive innovation theory, disruptive technology

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v26i3.3340

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