The game

BioLingo is a trivia game. You acquire points by answering questions related to cell biology correctly. The twist is that you can only play 3 quizzes per day, so in order to accumulate points; you must play often during a week. Before the end of the semester, you must have accumulated at least 2500 points to get your 5% participation mark on your final course mark.

Creating a player account (registration)

You must register with your uottawa email address only; otherwise we will be unable to link your game score with participation points in the course.

You must choose BIO1540 (French) or BIO1140 (English) according to which course you are registered in; otherwise we will be unable to link your game score with participation points in the course.

Once you have registered, you must choose an avatar and a player name for yourself. All other players will see your player name on the leaderboard. Therefore, be careful to choose a name that does not allow anyone to identify you if you wish to remain anonymous.


The trivia game is structured in subject categories. The professor will unlock each category as the semester progresses. It is your responsibility to keep an eye out on the category titles to see whether it has been unlocked. Your professor may inform the class in advance when a certain category will be unlocked.

Most categories have 3 levels of difficulty but some have only 2. Level 1 is the easiest and level 3 is the hardest. Level 1 questions are mainly on basic knowledge. Level 2 questions are mainly about understanding the material. Level 3 questions will challenge your deep understanding of cell biology concepts. When a category is first unlocked, only level 1 questions will be available. In order to access level 2 and 3 questions, you have to accumulate a sufficient amount of points in each level. To access level 2, you must have acquired 25 points in level 1 questions. To access level 3, you must have accumulated 25 points in level 2 questions. This is true for each category.

Questions answered successfully are worth different amounts of points for each level: Level 1 questions are worth 1 point.
Level 2 questions are worth 2 points.
Level 3 questions are worth 5 points.

Each quiz will have 10 questions to answer in the chosen category. You are allowed no more than 3 quizzes a day. This is to stimulate repeat testing and distributed learning (the opposite of cramming). We estimate that anyone doing 15 quizzes a week playing all levels of questions with a reasonable success rate should have accumulated enough points (2500pts) by the end of the semester to obtain 100% of their participation mark (5% of the total mark for the course). The participation mark will be calculated pro rata for scores less than 2500pts.

We suggest to use this game often but for short periods of time (~3 quizzes everyday). For example, quizzes can easily be done on the bus or waiting in line in a shop (not during classes!). Once you start a quiz, even if you do not finish it, it will be counted as one quiz and be taken off your daily quiz allowance. If you leave the game idle for over 20 minutes, you will be timed out of the quiz.

All questions are multiple-choice questions. Most are text based and some refer to a graph or an image.

There is no time limit for each question, so you may take your time and consult references or google to look for answers. However, if you leave the game idle for over 20 minutes, you will be timed out of the quiz.

After choosing an answer, the correct answer will be indicated for the user to gain automatic feedback.

At the end of the quiz, the user will be given their average score for the quiz. The user can then decide to have a go at another quiz or quit the website.

Place your bet

You have the option to gain points using a gambling game, where you can use acquired tokens to gamble 10, 25 or 50 points that you can answer the next question. The questions will only be taken out of the pool of questions that is already unlocked. If you answer the question correctly, you will gain the amount of points you gamble and they will be added to your total score. If you answer incorrectly, you will lose the amount of points you have gambled and they will be subtracted from your total score.

So gamble responsibly!

You can acquire tokens the following ways:

Everyone is given a token at the start
Every 250 points you have acquired, you will automatically be given a token.
Every time you have 100% on a quiz, you will automatically be given a token.
Every time you unlock a new difficulty level, you will automatically be given a token.
If you complete 15 quizzes within 7 days, regardless of scores, you will automatically be given a token.
The professor may distribute discretionary tokens.


The leaderboard is there to help you keep track of your progress and compare your progress with that of the class. Progress can been seen as weekly or overall, which means since the beginning of the semester.


Flashcards are provided as a study tool; using flashcards will not give you points but may help you study. You are free to use them or not, as you wish.
Flashcards are also divided into categories according to each subject seen in class. There are no difficulty levels in the Flashcards.

Biolingo is part of a research project on the gamification of learning and its impact on student success.

Title of the project: Using gaming as an engaging distributed learning tool in post-secondary science education.

Principal investigator:
Elaine Beaulieu
Assistant professor, Département de biologie, Université d'Ottawa
Tel: (613) 562-5800 ext x7884

Invitation and nature of the project: You are invited to participate in a research project aimed at assessing and improving bioscience education. This project is conducted under the direction of Dr. Elaine Beaulieu. The goal of this research is to study how the gamification of learning could be beneficial to science education. Participation is entirely voluntary and your participation decision will remain anonymous to both BIO1540 and BIO1140 professors until final grades have been released in May 2019. This way, your decision to participate in the research project will not act as prejudice towards you and your course mark.

The questions we are seeking to answer with this research project are as follows:
1. Do game users have increased learning gains in comparison to unexposed students?
2. Do high score gamers have increased learning gains in comparison to low score gamers?
3. Is the game well perceived by the students?

Although all students are required to use the online game as part of the regular course, consent is being sought for the access your course and game results for analysis purposes. In order to be able to answer these research questions, we need to be able to use your test results, your concept inventory results (a type of practice test we do in class every year to gage how well students know the material before instruction and after instruction) and the data we will have acquired during your gaming experience (for exemple your score, time spent gaming during the semester, which questions were the hardest for you, etc…). The goal is to be able to measure whether playing the game actually helped the students to do better in the course.

The ethical aspects of this study have been reviewed and approved by the University of Ottawa Health Sciences and Science Research Ethics board.

Nature of the requested participation and conduct of the research project: Your participation in the research project constists in (i) carefully reading this consent form, (ii) consent to participate in the study by clicking the “I agree” box at the bottom of this consent form.

Advantages to the student: The student will have the gratification contributing to the advancement of knowledge on science education, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of undergraduate science education at the university of Ottawa and elsewhere.

Anonymity and confidentiality: Your participation in this research project will remain anonymous to the professor until final grades are released to the Faculty in May 2019. All collected data will be kept on password protected computer drives, to which only the investigators who need that data will have access. All the data will be kept for up to 10 years after the completion of the study, after which digital data will be securely and completely deleted and hard copies of exams will be destroyed appropriately. Any publication or reporting of the project findings will be done with pooled group data: no personal information will be divulged in any form. It is possible that partial student exam answers may be cited as exemples in publications, but these will be anonymized and care will be taken so as not to reveal any information that could identify a student.

Right to withdraw without prejudice to the participation: Participation in this project is entirely voluntary. You have the right to withdraw consent at any point for any reason(s). You have the right to refuse to grant permission for the researchers to access your course and game results for any reason(s). The risks to you in granting permission to access course and game results are minimal and your participation will not affect your grades in any way. Your participation will help further scientific knowledge in this field, and may help improve bioscience education at the University of Ottawa and abroad, which may help you and other students.

If you have any questions about the research project or concerns with your participation to this project, please contact Elaine Beaulieu at the following number (613) 562-6800 ext 7884 or

If you have any concerns or questions about the ethical conduct of this research, please communicate with the uOttawa Office of Research Ethics and Integrity (613) 562-5387; ou