Gamifying Learning Assignments with Micro-Design Approach – Part 1

Ahmed Hosny Saleh Metwally, Assistant Lecturer at Helwan University
Ahmed Hosny Saleh Metwally, Assistant Lecturer at Helwan University
Gamifying Learning Assignments with Micro-Design Approach – Part 1

Our visiting blog author, Ahmed Hosny is an Assistant Lecturer at the Helwan University. He has done research on gamification of education. Ahmed has used Seppo in some of his research and we were lucky enough to get him to share some of his thoughts with us and the Seppo community!

Gamifying Learning Assignments with Micro-Design Approach – Part 1

Learning assignments have an effective role in the learning process. It helps students to reinforce learning and develop different skills. Many schools and educators are facing a challenge that is “how to make the learning assignments interesting part of the learning process”? In this essay, I will try to provide the ideas by introducing a novel gamification design approach called “Micro-Design” to tailor the assignments tasks. 

Gamifying the learning assignments is an effective solution for raising students’ motivation and engagements. Moreover, they pass through to acquire new knowledge and skills toward accomplishing their assignments. Being a researcher in gamification and from my previous research experience in gamifying learning assignments, I figured out that students tend to complete the short-gamified assignments and obtain the rewards, and dislike the long sequences of assignments which affect their engagement. Thus, the gamification micro-design approach aims at overcoming the issues with the previous gamification design approaches for accomplishing the assignments. This approach divides the course into units or modules; which have small chunks of micro-content. Every module may include some activities, mini-tasks, learning objects, short assignments in which the gamification elements can be implemented in different ways. This approach gives each unit a unique design. It means that the game elements may be varied in each unit or lesson besides the strategy of playing, dynamics, and mechanics. The design enforces the flow experience and perceptions of gamification elements that motivate and reward the response continuously and immediately after answering the small chunks of the assignment.

How to Gamify Assignment with Micro Design Approach?

In this part, I will provide the processes of designing and developing the gamified assignments with the micro design approach to support the educators and teachers when they are planning and creating the learning assignments on Seppo.

The design processes include the following phases: (1) preparation, (2) analysis, (3) ideation, (4) design, (5) implementation, (6) evaluation, (7) monitoring.

1. Preparation

This phase starts with identifying the problem with doing the assignments which concern students’ motivation and engagement, defining the goal and objectives of gamifying assignments, and stating the related conditions and requirements. The general educational objectives should be divided into specific objectives (sub-objectives). The outcome of this process is the objectives list from the general objectives (macro-level) to the specific objectives (micro-level).

2. Analysis

It aims at analysing both of learning context and students (needs, preferences, styles…etc.). The context analysis should narrow down the analysis scope to include the module level regardless of the grade, semester, and course. The hierarchy analysis target the small component of the assignments.

3. Ideation

The innovative and creative ideas of design are required and highly desired in this phase to promote the micro design and gameful experience. It’s beneficial to come up with new ideas for the learning assignments as well as the gamification elements.

4. Design

This phase is the core of the gamifying assignments processes. Designing the prototype of the gamified assignments could include micro-tasks, micro activities, and micro exercises, which are simple with claiming short action of the students. There are different types of exercises such as multichoice, checkbox, missing word, match pairs, and creative exercise. Consider using different types of exercises with few questions of each exercise. It would be worthy of investing the learning objects (can be obtained from different repositories) as educational resources in the design of micro assignments that have specific objectives and reusable in different contexts. Thinking of the ways of applying the gamification elements into the micro assignments should be planned in the design of prototypes, especially planning how to employ the game mechanics on Seppo (like points, levels, scoreboard, badges) in the prototype.

5. Implementation

Transforming the prototype into Seppo platform by creating the micro homework exercises and micro learning tasks with considering the game elements to reflect the short player journey and simple design. Managing and following up the implementation is pivotal. Testing the micro gamified assignments can be achieved by conducting the usability tests and some experiments to detect the possible errors and bugs.

6. Evaluation

It aims at assessing whether the developed micro gamified assignments attained the defined objectives. The evaluation could be performed by the quantitative and qualitative methods aside from the formative and summative assessments.

7. Monitoring

Monitoring the implementation according to the results of the evaluation. The gamified assignments design will be improved with iteration cycles.

Key Points to Consider:

  • The instructional design of the gamified assignments with Micro-Design approach is a key factor of success.
  • SSS rule (Small, Simple, Short) refers to small tasks, simple design, and short player journey.
  • Think out of the box for generating innovative design ideas of the boardgame and the gameful design.
  • Focus on the intrinsic incentives in the design besides the extrinsic incentives.
  • Assign a variety of short learning tasks and activities and employ carefully the game elements that match the learning objectives.
  • Remember that it’s a bottom-up approach looks at the micro-level of assignments in form of micro gamified assignments.  

Regarding the gameful experience, it is expected that increasing the students’ motivation when they answer the micro homework assignments, which is different from the gamified homework in the macro gamification systems. Providing the assignment with the micro approach would reduce the cognitive load of students and perceptions of gamification elements that motivate and reward continuously and immediately after answering the small chunks of the assignment. This approach will encourage developing new shapes of scenarios to serve the micro gameful experience.


Metwally, A. H. S., Yousef, A. M. F., & Yining, W. (2020). Micro Design Approach for Gamifying Students’ Assignments. 2020 IEEE 20th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), 349–351.

Metwally, A. H. S., Yousef, A. M. F., & Wang, Y. (2020). Gamifying Learning Assignments with Micro Design Approach. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, 1, 710–717. GonCPL.

Morschheuser, B., Hamari, J., Werder, K., & Abe, J. (2017). How to Gamify? A Method For Designing Gamification. Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (2017), (January), 1–10.