Teaching Challenge

The Teaching Challenge is an online game-like environment (website) where educators can come together, try new teaching and learning methods, innovate, and share their experiences. To use the Teaching Challenge, anyone at the University of Calgary can create a profile, pick a teaching challenge, try it, reflect on the experience, and share their thoughts. Challenges are assigned a point value based on the level of difficulty. When a participant shares their reflections they receive the associated number of points for that challenge, which is then added to the participants total points on the leader board. As a participant earns more points, they receive digital badges.

A foundation of the Teaching Challenge is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), which aims to bring together education professionals to share their experiences from their classroom so others can reflect and build on those ideas (Shulman, L.S., Hutchings, P, 1999). Further, Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 2004) highlights that modeling and sharing of experiences improves the efficiency of learning as new ideas take less time to implement, but also previous learnings are identified and shared. Social Cognitive Theory also draws on the use of media as a method to reach a vast population. Therefore, the Teaching Challenge draws on both SoTL and social cognitive theory to bring educators together in an online environment to share their experiences and further advance meaningful teaching and learning.

To take full advantage of the online environment, the Teaching Challenge is modeled after game-based strategies to “engage, inform, and educate”. (Kapp, 2012, pg 10) and uses a reward structure based on the gaming principle of PBL (points, digital badges, and leaderboards) to encourage, visualize and also motivate participation (Silva, 2016). The use of a digital badge as a form of micro-credentialing provides flexibility around recognition for professional development (EDUCAUSE, 2013).


Documentation and Materials

Website: http://www.ucalgary.ca/taylorinstitute/the-teaching-challenge

Teaching Challenge promotional bookmark














Assessment Strategies and Results

The Teaching Challenge was first launched during the 2016 University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Teaching and Learning as a digital poster presentation, and won the award for best poster. This achievement recognizes the interest in this innovative approach to fostering teaching and learning enhancement at the university. Combined with

Currently (as of March 2017) there are 16 challenges ranging from Think-Pair-Share to collecting mid-semester feedback from students to flipping a lesson. 28 profiles have been created, and the Teaching Challenge has been used in such programs as the EDU’s Teaching Online Program.

Reflection and Impact

This project has sparked meaningful conversations about teaching and learning both within the EDU and beyond (such as within other programs, 2016 UofC conference, and among instructors looking to integrate into courses). Further, the Teaching Challenge not only brought together many EDU colleagues, but also ignited much discussion about how we best create a community for educators to share their experiences.

As we move forward we look for innovate ways to integrate the Teaching Challenge into existing programs, courses, or other university initiatives. We will be adding additional challenges to reflect the many different facets of teaching and learning at the University of Calgary, as well as creating additional badge-levels as the number of points increase.


Bandura, A. (2004). Social cognitive theory for personal and social change by enabling media. Retrieved from http://web.stanford.edu/dept/psychology/bandura/pajares/Bandura2004Media.pdf

EDUCAUSE Review. (2013). Digital badges for professional development. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/digital-badges-professional-development

Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons: San Francisco, CA.

Hutchings, P., & Shulman, L. E. (1999). The scholarship of teaching: New elaborations, new developments. Change, 31(5), 10–15.

Project collaborators: Patrick Kelly, Kevin Saito, Haboun Bair, Lin Yu, Ykje Piera

ePortfolio authors: Patrick Kelly

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