Gamification in Learning: 5 Benefits for Online Course Creators

How can you improve retention and create a better user experience for your online course participants?

One word: gamification.

There are many ways to gamify online courses, including using points and leveling up, offering student rewards, or adding problem-solving challenges.

Gamified learning experiences provide a range of tangible benefits that can be applied across the board, no matter what your niche, subject matter, or industry may be.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the use of gaming-related elements in traditionally non-game-like activities. Oftentimes, gamification is used in online marketing and nontraditional learning to help increase engagement.

In this post, you’ll discover 5 benefits gamification in learning has for your online courses. Plus, we’ll share some of the most popular use cases you can start implementing today.

5 Benefits of Gamification in Learning

Online courses have grown in popularity year after year and continue to become a method of choice for educators worldwide due to the advantages of e-learning. When combined with gamification, the learning outcomes your students will experience are unmatched when it comes to retention and performance.

Gamification is a powerful tool for increasing user engagement in an online course! Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of gamification.

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1. Gamification Makes Learning Fun and Interactive

Students are more likely to engage with your course material if it’s fun and interactive. By using game theory and gamification best practices you’re able to increase learner engagement, improve retention, and reward your students for their efforts.

When applying gamification of learning to your online courses, the interactive, educational experience you’re creating for your students makes learning fun.

When learning is fun, you’ll see increased engagement and your students will continue coming back for more.

2. Offer Real-Time Feedback

As students progress through your online course you can provide real-time feedback using gamification.

By building in elements that reward and acknowledge your students for a job well done, you keep them engaged and motivated to continue through the material.

Whether you issue a badge or award points based on your learners’ progression you’re using gamification to provide immediate feedback.

Conversely, if a student doesn’t pass a quiz that’s required to unlock the next level or module, similar to video games, you can require them to retake the quiz or revisit the material. This is another prime example of gamification in action that provides real-time feedback.

As an online course creator, you’ve probably applied some of these gamification best practices without realizing it.

3. Enhanced Learning Experience

An enhanced learning experience is one of the most obvious benefits of gamification for online course creators.

A great user experience can make all the difference in a successful or flopped course.

If your students aren’t completing your courses it can reflect poorly on your business. Not only will your churn and refund rates increase if your course participants aren’t seeing the results they hoped for, but they’ll be less likely to purchase from you in the future.

However, if you’re able to deliver an interactive and engaging experience for them, you’ll not only retain your existing users, they’re more likely to sing your praises to others and provide testimonials.

4. Increase Student Productivity & Retention

3 screenshots from wordpress lms plugin with video and progress tracking for your online courses According to Intuition, 67% of students found gamified learning more motivating and engaging than traditional courses.

Motivated learners are more likely to stay focused as they complete their learning objectives, which in turn will increase their productivity due to limited distractions.

You’ll also see a ripple effect in terms of retention rates of your material for your students and the number of users for your business. A win-win for everyone!

5. Creates a Personalized Learning Experience

A learner’s performance can oftentimes be linked to how well they were supported as they work through the material. Gamification creates a personalized user experience naturally.

As a student works through a course or training the immediate feedback they receive and rewards earned throughout naturally creates a personalized experience for each individual.

Gamification in Learning Use Cases

The benefits of gamification are clear, but how you implement these game elements will vary based on your current online course design and setup.

Some of the most popular use cases for you to draw inspiration from and improve learner engagement are outlined below. Just remember, you’re only limited by your imagination because gamification comes in all shapes and forms.

Create a Points or Credit System

Image of rewards in membership site

Points or credit systems are most likely the first things that come to mind when creating game-based learning experiences.

Participants can earn points when they log in, check off learning objectives, complete courses, and pass a quiz.

These points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards. The sky’s the limit. Some popular rewards we’ve seen our AccessAlly users offer are access to bonus content, physical products, 1-on-1 training, or coaching calls.

With a simple click of a button, your members can redeem the points or credits they have earned for their chosen rewards.

Some of our users even issue points or credits to their members each month that can be used to unlock the course or material that they’re most excited about to help keep them focused and engaged.

As they complete a course, additional points are issued to unlock another course.

This is a great way to reduce overwhelm for members when you have a lot of content within your membership.

Redeem Points for Prizes

animated gif redeeming points for a coupon code

One of the easiest ways to motivate your students is to award prizes based on the effort they put forward.

By leveraging a credits or points system described above you can award points as your student completes various learning objectives. From there, they can redeem points for various rewards.

You can create a prize wall with rewards ranging in value. The more engaged students are, the more points they will earn.

From there, it’s their decision how they choose to redeem them. Whether it’s for a high-value prize or multiple lower-value rewards, you’re able to create a unique and motivating rewards system for your learners.

Unlock Bonus Content to Keep Students Engaged

So many video games utilize bonus content in their game design.

For instance in the Super Mario games and Sonic the Hedgehog, you can earn extra lives by earning a certain number of coins or get rewarded superpowers when you find hidden elements throughout the game.

You can implement the same game design practices in your online courses. When someone earns a certain number of points you can unlock bonus content that is designed to enhance their e-learning experience.

Setup a Leaderboard Using Member Directories

Member directories are a great way to enhance your online learning experience for your students and members.

member directory examples

A member directory can be used as a leaderboard to create some friendly competition between students and members. Within their member profile, you can display each person’s point total and display them based on the number of points they have.

This is also a great way to display points badges or any other badges earned while being a part of your membership or online course. We’ll talk more about how you can use badges to increase learner engagement more below.

Award Badges & Certificates Based on Progress

In a gamified online course, you can award badges or certificates based on a learner’s progress and achievements.

For example, if your course requires mastery in a subject matter you can break it down into milestones and award badges for reaching each level. For example, you might award a badge at the novice, intermediate, and expert levels as the learner showcases a mastery of the material.

Motivate Students with Progress Tracking VisualsiPad image with mockup of the 90 day year progress goals

Progress tracking visuals help motivate learners to complete their online courses.

When students see their completion percentage increasing each time they finish a lesson, pass a quiz, or complete a module their intrinsic motivation kicks in to help keep them engaged and working towards a bigger goal.

Choose Your Own Adventure Guided Learning

You can create a gamified learning environment by allowing students to choose their own path through your content.

Different pathways can be unlocked based on a user’s previous choices and mastery of the material.

If you offer a lot of online courses within your membership site, this type of gamification in learning can help guide students through the material that is most relevant for them and most likely to help them achieve results faster. They won’t be distracted by your other courses when working towards their goal.

Alternatively, this type of gamification can be used to create a virtual escape room, murder mystery experience, or online scavenger hunt.

How to Implement Gamification for Online Courses

As an online course creator, you’re most likely using an LMS or membership tool to build your online course and learning experience. If you’re just getting started and haven’t found the right tool, I highly recommend taking a look at these comparisons to find the best LMS plugin or platform for your needs.

When you decide to add gamification to your learning environment you’ll want to find a plugin or tool that seamlessly integrates with your existing setup to create the best possible user experience.

An all-in-one solution that allows you to incorporate the game elements described here into your online courses without the need for add-ons or third-party tools is our top recommendation, and for good reason.

According to ProProfs, gamification is one of the top 10 must-have features of a learning management system (LMS).

If you’re in the market for an add-on or third-party tool to add to your existing setup, GamiPress, myCRED, and BadgeOS are popular gamification plugins.

However, these add-ons tend to fall short in terms of integration and functionality. Unfortunately, they don’t deliver the same amount of flexibility you’ll find with an LMS that includes native gamification features.

Choose Your Favorite Gamification Strategy

Regardless of your industry or subject matter, it’s up to you to how you decide to weave these game-based elements throughout your learning experience.

If you’re noticing a drop-off in progress through your online course at a certain spot, or have trouble getting your learners to log back in, gamification can help get you over that plateau.

We’d love to hear which use case you plan to implement.

And if you’re already using gamification for your online courses we’d love to know what’s worked well for you.

Nathalie Lussier

I’m a writer, technologist, and regenerative farmer. I founded AccessAlly with my husband in one frantic weekend to solve my immediate course platform issues. Over a decade later the company has grown, and our product has evolved to serve millions of learners across the globe.

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