You’ve heard that adding game elements to your online courses can increase student engagement, but how do you do it right?
In this article, we’ll explore what gamification strategy works and some examples of gamification platforms that do it right.
What is Gamified Learning?
Gamified learning is the use of game elements in non-game contexts to engage learners and motivate them to achieve their goals. Game elements can include badges, points, leaderboards, progress bars, and other digital rewards.
There are many different ways to gamify your courses, but the key is to make sure that the game elements you use are aligned with your learning objectives.
For example, if you’re trying to encourage students to complete their assignments on time, you might give them points for each assignment they turn in on time.
If you’re trying to encourage students to participate in discussions because you know that student learning improves when they interact with each other, then offer badges when students help each other.
How to Use Game Mechanics to Motivate Students
While you could develop educational games and embed these directly into your learning management system, chances are that layering on gamification elements will align better with your goals of motivating students.
Here’s how you can approach the education gamification design process:
1. Find out what motivates your students. Gamified learning won’t do anything if you are focusing on the wrong aspects.
2. Make sure the game mechanics you use are aligned with your learning objectives.
3. Use game mechanics that fit the culture of your classroom, school, or community. Intuitively, you know a corporate training program might not lend itself well to the same concepts as a course for middle schoolers.
4. Be clear about the rules of the game. Whether that means a correct answer is required or an approximate explanation is good enough, let people know ahead of time.
5. Explain how the game works and why it matters. Your learning platform can help you implement gamified learning, but you need to set the intention.
6. Be consistent in awarding points, badges, or other rewards. Here again your learning platform should do most of the heavy lifting, you just need to set the standards for your gamified learning approach.
7. Celebrate successes and provide feedback along the way.
8. Keep it fun!
Adding Gamified Learning to Your Online Courses
There are many ways to incorporate gamified learning into your online courses. Here are some examples:
1. Use game-based assessment tools such as Kahoot! or Quizlet Live to check for student understanding. Your learning platform might also have built-in quiz functionality as AccessAlly does.
2. Create a leaderboard to track progress and reward students who complete tasks or assignments. Whether you want to train employees and motivate them to complete their online training faster or better than their peers, or you understand that everyone can benefit from a bit of healthy competition, leaderboards are very powerful.
3. Use badges or other digital rewards to recognize student achievement. Some great gamification examples include courses where members get badges for completing courses, but also for smaller achievements like their first login or introducing themselves in your community area.
4. Encourage competition among students by organizing gamified learning challenges. A good gamification strategy starts with creative thinking and making live feedback fun. That means a live challenge can help students go through learning materials while you leverage sustainable reward systems in real-time.
5. Use virtual worlds or simulations to provide an immersive learning experience. Situated learning means that your students put themselves in the shoes of another person, which offers other methods of learning than things like rote memorization. Plus students can see their own progress and even compare it to others while knowing that everyone has their own individual learning journey.
6. Allow students to earn points, level up, or unlock new content as they progress through the course. Some of the best gamified learning happens in non-game contexts where students can get the satisfaction of achieving something on their own. Whether you give points for finishing multiple classes or just one lesson at a time, you can make the most of extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation, too.
7. Give students the ability to customize their avatar or learning environment. Other examples of gamified learning include giving students the ability to design their own experiences. The way you implement gamification is largely dependent on your learning platform, but most platforms offer a profile that can be edited by members.
It’s never too late to layer on gaming elements to your existing courses. You can even add downloadable learning materials that students can use to play offline or with friends outside of your learning platform.
Gamified Learning Platform Recommendations
Although we’d all love to be able to create our own video game to go with our online courses, very few of us have the budget or time to hire a full development team to create a custom video game.
Instead, there are a number of existing platforms that you can use to gamify your courses.
Here are just a few examples of learning management systems that have built-in gamification features:
- Xperiencify: Use this hosted learning platform to motivate learners within your courses. Use some of the game dynamics like countdown timers, self-destructing content, and reward system points to get people through your online training.
- GamiPress: this is another WordPress plugin but instead of being able to do everything from selling to delivering your online courses, GamiPress focuses solely on the gamification piece. You can create a learning journey when you combine it with other learning management systems like LearnDash or LifterLMS.
- AccessAlly: start with progress indicators, let members earn points, take short quizzes to improve knowledge retention, and offer badges while creating competition in a healthy way with leaderboards. This is the WordPress plugin that helps you implement gamification on your terms and with the goals you have in mind for your members. (Obviously, we’re biased because we created AccessAlly and it predates both of the other options here!)
These platforms offer engaging ways to learn new concepts and skills while also providing a sense of achievement as users progress through the levels.
Any learning environment can benefit from playing games, and you can create your own video game-like experiences when you incorporate fantasy role play into your courses.
This can be done in a “Choose your own adventure” scenario that game designers often employ to create situational learning.
Gamified Learning: In-Person vs. Online Learning Platforms
In a real-world application, you can use board games, digital games, and even sports to enhance learning experiences.
Sports offer a sense of competition and community that can energize players and make the game more interesting. You can use these same dynamics to create collaborative learning experiences.
You can also foster class discussions and even have several classes compete where one class wins a reward. That kind of healthy competition can help students reach their learning goals using gamification in education in person.
When we start looking at online learning experience platforms, it’s important to know their limitations and their advantages.
For example, you can incorporate gamification by offering virtual rewards and watching students collecting points. From there, you can tap into intrinsic motivation to succeed and achieve by listing points prominently on leaderboards and member profiles.
That way the learning experience uses a reward system that is more fun like giving points for completing lessons, quizzes, and submitting homework.
These encouragement mechanics can be built into your learning platform, but you still need to think about the best way to use them.
You don’t want to be creating playful barriers that deter students from going further in their studies. Instead, you want your educational games to increase learner engagement and give students more confidence in their skills.
This is especially important when you have academic objectives that go beyond understanding concepts and into applying them in the real world.
For example, if you’re teaching critical thinking you might wonder how tracking progress toward that goal is possible.
There are many ways to use gamification elements: by having students upload their example documents through your online training platform for you to review, or by having them pick a project to share in your community area.
You could even have students come up with their own games or ways of applying your online training.
Examples of Game-Based Learning
We all know that learning is not a linear process, even if we understand that scaffolded learning is an effective way to teach.
Here are some examples of game based learning:
1. Sporcle: This site features user-generated quizzes on a variety of topics. While some of the quizzes are clearly designed for entertainment value, others are more educational. For example, there is a quiz on all the countries in the world. In order to get 100%, you have to name all 196 countries.
2. Quizlet: This site also features user-generated quizzes, but with a focus on flashcards and memorization. Again, while some of the sets are clearly for entertainment value, others are more educational. For example, there is a set on the bones in the human body that includes both the scientific name and a description of each bone.
3. Duolingo: This app teaches people a new language and added vocabulary by gamifying the learning process. For example, you might have to complete a series of translation exercises in order to level up.
4. Kahoot!: This platform lets users create their own multiple choice quizzes that can be played in a group setting. It’s often used in classrooms as a way to make learning more interactive and fun.
5. Memrise: This app also focuses on helping people learn new vocabulary, but with a focus on languages that use different character sets, like Chinese or Japanese. In addition to providing definitions and audio pronunciations, Memrise also includes mnemonic devices to help users remember the words better.
6. Socrative: This site is similar to Kahoot!, but it focuses on immediate feedback to students so it’s more fun. Mobile learning can be so effective that it is now being used in medical schools to help teach new doctors.
7. ClassDojo: This app is less about gaming and more about classroom management. It helps teachers keep track of student behavior, both positive and negative, in real time. This way, they can praise students who are doing well and address problems quickly with those who are struggling.
More Gamification Examples
Many learning platforms are starting to add these gamification features, so here’s how they work:
- Progress bars: When you complete a task, you see a progress bar fill up. This is a visual way to track your progress and encourages you to keep going.
- Badges: You can earn badges for completing tasks or reaching certain milestones. These are like virtual trophies that show off your achievements.
- Leaderboards: Some platforms have leaderboards that show how you’re doing in comparison to other users. This can be motivating if you’re competitive, but it can also be discouraging if you’re not doing as well as others.
- Points: You can earn points for completing tasks, which can then be used to unlock new content or level up within the platform.
- Quizzes: Quizzes are a fun way to test your knowledge and see how much you’ve learned and retained.
- Mini Games: These are short games to help you learn new concepts in a fun and interactive way. These could be memory games, word association games, or even digital escape rooms.
Digital escape rooms are a relatively new trend, but they are becoming increasingly popular as a way to learn in a fun and interactive way.
There are many different platforms that offer gamified learning experiences. Some of these platforms are specifically designed for education, while others are more general purpose. Here are some examples of each:
There are many different gamified learning platforms out there, each with its own unique features and benefits. Here are a few examples:
- Duolingo is a popular language-learning platform that uses gamification to make learning more fun and engaging. Users can earn points and unlock new levels as they progress through the lessons. There’s also a leaderboard feature that lets users compare their progress with others.
- Khan Academy is a free online education platform that offers courses in a wide range of subjects, from math and science to history and art. It uses gamification to motivate users to keep learning by awarding them badges and points as they progress. There’s also a leaderboard feature that lets users see how their progress compares
Gamification in Education Doesn’t Need to Be Complicated
There are all sorts of ways to gamify learning, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as adding a little bit of friendly competition to your lesson plans. Ultimately, the goal is to make learning more fun and engaging for students so that they’re more likely to retain what they’ve learned.
What are some other platforms or apps that you’ve used for gamified learning? Share your experiences in the comments below!