Elevator Speech

  The whole story in a nutshell

Over the past few decades, technology has played an increasing role in education. More and more, courses are being moved to distance education and completed over the internet. This shift has solved some problems, like giving more students access to education, however, it has created its own challenges including issues related to student motivation. For example, a recent study by Harvard and MIT shows that only 5% of students enrolled in their 17 massive online open courses complete the course. This challenge is not related to low quality course content or inferior assignments—the issue is student motivation and abilities.

Project Delphinium attempts to address the challenge of student "skill" and "will" in online learning by applying gamification principles. Gamification is the application of game mechanics, like those found in video games, to non-game environments, like education or marketing. Gamification is a fairly young concept that has taken root in the marketing and customer loyalty domains. It is also growing in popularity for improving employee performance. Project Delphinium aims to bring gamification’s benefits to education by creating a thriving community of educators, developers, and designers committed to building practical, effective, and engaging gamification tools and environments for education.

The Name

  Captures and illustrates the vision and mission

As I thought about a metaphor to represent this gamification of learning project, the idea of a flower seemed perfect. A flower includes a stem that provides structure, and leaves that provide resources. Together these support the flower's petals which fulfill the function of attracting insects for pollination and provide beauty. These same basic elements are the foundation of Project Delphinium. To create a flexible educational gamification environment, we designed a platform that provides structure and resources, and components that provide functionality and beauty.

While browsing lists of the traditional meanings of flowers, I came across the name "delphinium" and it immediately jumped out at me. First, I loved the sound of the word—Delphinium. To me it sounded futuristic and technical, perhaps like a mineral or an exotic alloy. Then I read its meanings and was hooked:

The delphinium flower is said to represent... levity, fun and a general sense of joy.

[It] is a symbol of infinite possibility and believing that anything is possible. Stretch your current beliefs and keep reaching for the stars...

What better flower could represent a project dedicated to building an educational gamification platform? And thus, Project Delphinium was born!


  Our ideal future

Project Delphinium aims to be a thriving community of educators, developers, and designers committed to creating practical, effective, and engaging gamification environments and tools for education. The Delphinium framework allows us to contribute a wide variety of educational gamification components and beautifully arrange them in flexible dashboards, helping to motivate tens of thousands of students.


  What we do

We provide a flexible gamification platform that improves student outcomes in online education.


  An image worth a thousand words

The Project Delphinium logo employs clean typology with extended stems on the letters 'l' and 'p', symbolizing the stem of a flower. Abstract colorful prisms burst from the stem symbolizing overlapping leaves and flower petals. These overlapping petals represent the interaction between components and their shared resources in the Project Delphinium framework.


  Captures it all

Structure + Resources     Function + Beauty


  Why we do what we do


  Key desired outcomes


  How we achieve our objectives


  Specific planned activities for strategies


  Closing the gap

  1. Complete core framework and components - 90% Done
  2. Build and evaluate 3 gamified courses - 50% Done
  3. Publish 3 academic articles on learning gamification - 40% Done


  1. Build an informational website about Project Delphinium and the Delphinium Framework - Done
  2. Acquire resources to fund 2 student programmers for 1 year - 300% Done
  3. Share presentations on Project Delphinium at 2 related conferences - 300% Done
  4. Apply for 3 grants to support programmers and development - 200% Done


  High Praises!


  What people are saying


  How we got here

Dr. Jared R. Chapman began planning what would become Project Delphinium in early 2013. Preferring to stay on the bleeding edge of educational technology, Dr. Chapman had already been experimenting with open source textbooks, flexible assignment due dates, extensive use of peer review, and adaptive quizzes. When he ran across the idea of gamification in his research, he became intrigued. He began to wonder if he could design a course in which his students might "get addicted" to doing homework, similar to how he had observed that many of his students appeared to be addicted to smartphone games.

Dr. Chapman began designing what a gamified course interface would look like, drawing inspiration from games like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies. In the summer of 2013 he began coding a gamified skin for the Canvas LMS and by Fall semester had a prototype ready to run with his 125 Utah Valley University (UVU) students. Taking what he learned that semester, he spent the Christmas break refining his code and ran his pilot again in the Spring 2014 semester.

After receiving grants from UVU and the UVU Woodbury School of Business, Dr. Chapman was able to hire a student programmer to hasten development. That summer, Dr. Chapman gave a presentation on his Canvas gamification skin at Instructurecon in Park City, Utah. The response was very positive and sparked several discussions with interested groups. Through these conversations, Dr. Chapman began to realize that for the project to really take off, he would need to design it as a flexible platform that could be used by a variety of institutions in a variety of use cases. With this in mind, he began designing the Project Delphinium framework.

Preliminary research results have been exciting. More than 70% of students reported being more or much more motivated in a Project Delphinium course than a traditional course. Qualatitive analysis reveal 4 mechanics by which gamification improves motivation: