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Photo: Erica Lång
Professor Darla Castelli, University of Texas, in Austin, USA. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Enhanced collaboration with the University in Austin

Published: 17 October 2016

Professor Darla Castelli from the University of Austin, Texas, recently visited the faculty of Health Sciences at Luleå University of Technology. The focus was to discuss how to add gamification elements across the curriculum, establish a team of collaborators, and expand the partnership.

– This project is mutually beneficial. It is important to meet face-to-face and the benefits have been creativity and looking through multiple lenses. We are all passionate about doing what is right for our students. To have the opportunity to discuss these things are really valuable for both of us, says Professor Darla Castelli.

Expertise in gamification

Professor Darla Castellis role in this project is her expertise in gamification. She has used gamification to change and promote healthy behavior, but also in an educational context.
Gamification is elements used to get a desired outcome. Children or students gets a reward for the commitment they made, for example a badge, leaderboards or a new level, to bring them back for more. Her expertise is in designing the gamification elements and creatively knowing when to offer a new level and when it should be received.

Successful projects

The partnership between Luleå University of Technology and University of Texas in Austin, started two years ago with an ongoing project about how to promote physical activity in schools. It was in this project the notion of gamification emerged.

This project opened up for another collaboration where the students on the programme for Health Guidance in April implemented a project together with students from University of Texas at Austin, UT, United States with factors that strengthen the health in the community. This project was successful and will be conducted and expanded this spring.

Expand the collaboration

The purpose of Professor Darla Castelli´s first visit to Luleå University of Technology was to discuss how gamification can be added across the curriculum in the Health Guidance programme, but also establish a team with multiple members from Sweden, Austin Texas and from other places around the globe.

– I´m very impressed by quality of the students at Luleå University of Technology, by the faculty and some of their accomplishments. The faculty has this philosophy that learning continues and are looking for whatever is the latest and the greatest that will help the students be prepared for their professional lives, says Darla Castelli.

Lessons on the way to school

The next step in the collaboration is to pursuit extra funding´s and how a data collection can start in Austin, Texas, in the project of Active School transports. Here in Norrbotten the children have lessons on their way to school, for example, one lesson was about the importance of recycling. The children picked up trash on their way to school and then they talked about how to recycle and the environmental benefits.
– This is a unique way of working. We don’t have these lessons. We talked about taking that element, expanding that and offer similar lessons. It was the teachers here who were creative enough to come up with that type of lessons and content they wanted to discuss, says Darla Castelli. 

Lecture for teachers

During her visit she also held a lecture for teachers at the faculty about a course she designed where the component of gamification was used and integrated to inspire physical activity on campus.

– The findings were improved amount of physical activity and confidence in engaging in activities. We also built a support system for them with friends, who are going through this together. I also talked about if those elements are sustainable, have cognitive benefits and is reliving stress, and ultimately if they will succeed in college, says Darla Castelli.