This is a guest post by Andrew Walsh, who is the project lead for the ‘Lemontree project: Phase 2..’ This is one of the 2013 Teaching and Learning Innovation Projects funded by TALI. This is the third of 11 guest posts by TALI funded project leaders.
Gamification . It’s an ugly word, but one that describes Lemontree to a tee!
Lemontree is a gamification project, that is using game techniques, symbology and structures and applying them to a non-game environment, the library. We used points and leaderboards (for competition); characters and levelling up (narrative & storytelling); badges (set collection); and social sharing of information including reviews (social learning) to encourage people to use library resources.
These all came out of a desire to address a particular set of data we held which linked student achievement to usage of library resources (see the Library Impact Data Project for more information). We found a positive correlation between the usage of library information resources (books, articles, etc.) and final degree award. There were no such correlations between physically entering the library and degree award. So perhaps if we could encourage social users of the library to use more books and electronic resources, we could make a difference to their academic achievement?
A couple of years ago a local creative company, Running In The Halls (RITH) was sketching out ideas around making the library more “fun” and engaging and had outlined some early ideas for a service called Lemontree. Putting the two ideas together for the first phase of the project resulted in Lemontree focussing primarily on encouraging higher levels of library usage for social users, with points, badges and mechanisms concentrating on these issues. Launched in November 2011, we had around 600 users register in the first academic year, when the first phase of the project ended.
This second phase of the project allows us to follow a reasonable amount of students (several hundred) through a full academic year of Lemontree. We will collect quantitative data related to Lemontree players’ library usage and compare them to non-players. We are also carrying out a series of interviews with engaged users to investigate attitudes to gamification, play and fun in a HE library setting. These data collection exercises will hopefully tease out whether the “intervention” of Lemontree makes a difference to any intrinsic student motivations to use library resources, show whether they find gamification acceptable within the Higher Education environment, and perhaps help ease the way for the future use of gamification and game based learning within our university.
As a minor part of the project we are carrying out promotion of the system this academic year, giving out bonus points (on colourful mini-cards) and badges (echoing the online badges students earn in Lemontree) at Freshers’ fair, as well as on going promotion to all students. So you may well see Lemontree manifesting itself physically on student clothing and bags this year…
There has been a great deal of interest in Lemontree since we launched it, and presentations and conference papers have been given all over the world including California, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Dublin. A book chapter that included Lemontree as one aspect has been published recently, and journal articles are in the pipeline as well.