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“I want to talk about choice, because that’s one of the features in gamification that the three of us were. . . drawn to. . . Students did appreciate having many choices. They liked being able to choose which topic they learned about. They liked being able to choose the order of completing the quests. They liked being able to choose if they did a fifteen-minute [session] or a sixty-minute one based on their schedule. They liked deciding when they completed it, and they liked choice of where to complete it, especially the ones that didn’t have to come to class; they could do it at home on their own time.”

Dr. Julie Dodge,
Dr. Christie Bernklau Halvor, & Dr. Sonja Vegdahl

Online coursework is now a mainstream approach to the delivery of education and training to professional social workers in the United States. As online courses and programs grow, more and more faculty will be asked to teach using platforms and instructional methods that they may be unfamiliar with. One of these methods is known as gamification. While it should not be confused with game-based learning, it uses game-like features in the educational setting. In 2015, three members of the Concordia University social work faculty decided to incorporate some gamification elements into one course each was teaching. In this episode, Drs. Julie Dodge, Christie Bernklau Halvor, and Sonja Vegdahl explore that experience.

Julie Dodge, PhD, has worked at Concordia University as adjunct faculty for the social work department since 1996. She became a full time assistant professor in July 2012. She has taught a majority of the social work practice courses, as well as Chemical Dependency and Addictive Behaviors. Dr. Dodge founded a consulting practice in 2007, Resilient LLC, through which she provides public and non-profit organizations training, program development and grant writing services. Prior to her consulting work, she served at LifeWorks NW for almost 12 years as service director for prevention and youth addiction services. She is recognized throughout the state of Oregon for her work in both prevention and youth addictions, as well as her consulting services.

Christie Bernklau Halvor, PhD, associate professor of social work, joined Concordia University’s Social Work Program in 2006. There, Dr. Halvor is responsible for supporting students as they plan for and participate in their senior year practicum placements. The classes she teaches include Social Welfare Policy, Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations, Ethics in Healthcare, and Perspectives in Aging. Her dissertation research focused on increasing the effectiveness with which the social work profession prepares its undergraduate students for political advocacy. Prior to going to Concordia, she worked in a variety of social work settings, including a VA medical center, a community action agency, and a healthcare ethics center.

Sonja Vegdahl, PhD, began teaching social work at Concordia University in 1994. She directs the social work program and oversees the process of national accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education. She teaches Introduction to Social Work, The Professional Social Worker, and Social Work Practicum Seminar. Her research relates to women transitioning from welfare to work and the culture of welfare programs. Prior to going to Concordia University, Dr. Vegdahl taught at Ferris State University in Michigan and was a clinical social worker, providing services to children, families, and individuals at a community mental health center. She has also worked with youth experiencing homelessness and with juvenile first-time offenders.

Interviewer: Steven Sturman

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