Replay app makes a game of becoming a wine expert

Instructor Mark Keene Mark Keene, instructor of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management's wine sommelier introductory certification course.

To become a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, one has to be more than just knowledgeable about wine – you must understand the principles of vine growing and the complexity of global wine production, along with the intricate practices involved in the selection and sales of wine.

In short, training to become a sommelier is no easy task. But it can be a game.

Last fall, students in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management’s wine sommelier introductory certification course were introduced to Replay, a gamified quizzing app that allows instructors to create quizzes and turn them into a game. The strategy can encourage students to retake a quiz multiple times and quickly master a subject.

“In a sense, it’s really just a newer take on studying with flashcards,” says Mark Keene, the course’s instructor. “Except that the students are motivated to keep taking the quizzes as many times as they can.”

Purdue-developed Replay allows instructors to post quizzes in a multiple-choice format designed for smart phones and web browsers. Students are awarded experience points based on how many questions they get right and for taking each quiz multiple times. These experience points are tallied on a course leaderboard, but student identities are hidden – each player is represented by a fancifully named avatar. Like a game, players can compete to be at the top of the leaderboard and also earn various achievements, giving learners a sense of competitiveness and achievement.

“To be honest, I was shocked at how quickly my students took to it and how competitive they got,” Keene says.

Zachary Rinaldi, a chemical engineering student in the course, said the nature of the course material – huge amounts of information that needed to be memorized and quickly recalled – made the quizzes beneficial, and the interaction with other students made it fun.

“The quizzes were a good collection of the material we needed to learn compiled from different perspectives and they were a good review tool for the material as our exam approached,” says Rinaldi.

During the course, weekly Replay quizzes featured approximately 100 questions and could be taken up to 10 times each. Each week, during class, Keene would discuss the results and award a small prize – a wine bottle opener, for example – to the winner.

“So each week you had students looking and thinking about course material repeatedly,” says Keene. “There’s no way that repeated exposure didn’t sink in.”

But the quizzes weren’t the only way Replay helped students learn. In developing the quizzes, Keene assigned students to submit their own questions, with the caveat that questions had to have a certain level of challenge – easy questions wouldn’t be accepted.

“That forced students to do a lot of research into developing their questions, which forced them to dig deeper into the material,” Keene says.

Rinaldi agreed, saying the chance to learn what other students’ thought was important gave him a broader perspective than he could achieve on his own.

“In this class we were trying to memorize a bunch of relatively loosely defined information,” says Rinaldi, “so being exposed to questions that other students had created from their own resources I thought was good. I saw Replay as a simple way to get exposure to a broader base of material and material that someone else viewed as important.”

And Keene believes emphatically that all of the research and time spent playing – er, studying – paid off for his students. On average, between 40 and 60 percent of those enrolled in the course pass their sommelier certification at the end. In the fall of 2017, the first year using Replay, 85 percent of students passed.

“Do I think that’s 100 percent attributable to Replay? Absolutely,” says Keene.

Rinaldi agreed: “I do think using Replay helped me learn; it was another tool to aide in my learning. It really helped me with memorizing because I could complete the quizzes multiple times and really connect the questions and answers.”

Now Keene, who’s working with Associate Professor Carl Behnke to write a paper about using gamification in teaching, is continuing to explore how technology can be used to engage with students.

“There are so many things vying for students’ attention, if there are ways, like Replay, that helps them focus a little more on material, the impact can be powerful,” says Keene.

Want to learn more about using Replay in the classroom? Curious about other technology tools available at Purdue? Contact or visit  to learn more.


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Writer: Dave Stephens, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue, 765-496-7998,

Last updated: March 21, 2018