The use of Game Based Learning (GBL) in MOOCs

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) has produced the effect of a disruptive innovation in the field of Higher Education (HE). MOOCs open the HE courses to a global audience with an open approach, allowing a massive number of students to enroll in the MOOCs. Although the main MOOC systems use traditional pedagogical methodologies, we can explore the opportunity to merge MOOCs and Massive Multi-player Online Games (MMOG). MMOG is a popular game genre that is capable of supporting massive number of players in a “persistent social and material worlds, loosely structured by open ended (fantasy) narratives” (Steinkuehler, 2004, p.521). The popularity of the MMOGs, their engaging gameplay and their social interaction opportunities has been started to be exploited for educational purposes, promoting, on the one hand, the use of the existing MMOG such Everquest and Second Life in educational settings (Delwiche, 2006), and on the other hand, the emergence of new MMOGs designed for educational purposes, that we can call Massive Multi-player Online Serious Games (MMOSG).

From two different perspectives, MOOCs and MMOGs, there is a confluence that could be observed by the gamification of the MOOCs (trend 1 in Figure 1) and the massification of SG (trend 2 in Figure 1), and the educational orientation of the MMOGs (trend 3 in Figure 1).

The use of Game Based Learning (GBL) in MOOCs

The use of a Game Based Learning (GBL) approach in the MOOCs could help to overcome the lecture-based approaches adopted in the main MOOC platforms, where the text, audio and video lectures are combined with automatic quizzes. GBL, and the use of SG, could promote the development of more practical and applied competencies and knowledge. MOOCs integrating SGs could allow the participants learning by doing in a safe environment and respond to the large-scale needs of education such the development of entrepreneurship (Bellotti et al., 2013), but also to other 21st century competencies allowing our societies to better cope with the current massive educational challenges.

You can find more details here:

Romero, M. (2013). Game Based Learning MOOC. Promoting Entrepreneurship Education. Elearning Papers, Special Edition MOOCs and Beyond, 33, 1-5.


Bellotti, F., Berta, R., De Gloria, A., Lavagnino, E., Antonaci, A., Dagnino, F., & Ott, M. (2013). A Gamified Short Course for Promoting Entrepreneurship among ICT Engineering Students, Proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT) 2013, Bejing, China, July, 2013.

Delwiche, A., (2006). Massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) in the new media classroom. Educational Technology & Society, 9 (3), 160-172.

Steinkuehler, C. A., (2004). Learning in massively multiplayer online games. In Y. B. Kafai, W. A. Sandoval, N. Enyedy, A. S. Nixon, & F. Herrera (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference of the Learning Sciences (pp. 521-528). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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