Table of Contents
- What is gamification?
- The State Of Gamification In 2023
- Technical Features of Gamification Implementation
- Types of Gamification In eLearning
- Gamification Elements in eLearning
- Gamification in eLearning
- Best Practices to Gamify Your eLearning Course
- Limitations for eLearning Gamification
- 5 Outstanding examples of eLearning gamification
What is gamification?
Wikipedia defines gamification as “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-gaming contexts”. Gamification integrated into eLearning platforms uses game elements (such as points, levelling, and leaderboards) to both encourage and teach learners. While the notion itself isn’t particularly hard to understand, it can be expanded upon in two different ways: namely, in its broader and narrower senses. First, let’s look at the broader concept – and, by extension, at the goals of gamification as a whole.
Gamification techniques tap into people’s inherent curiosity and competitive instincts. This can be done in a variety of ways, but no matter the method, one thing is essential – a certain reward system. After all, the “player” has to be motivated somehow – be it socially, creatively or financially. Thus, competitive tasks and regular challenges can be set up as means of achieving those rewards. The implementation of such stimulating physical and/or virtual activities into the workflow is widely seen as a great way to increase engagement and, consequently, productivity.
Now, as far as the narrow meaning is concerned, gamification refers to the integration of UI elements that are most frequently seen in videogames. Progress bars, levels, leaderboards, virtual currencies, achievements, and other gaming-associated features are becoming increasingly common in apps that at first glance should have little to do with the entertainment industry.
But are these really as effective as we are led to believe? How applicable is gamification to one of the fastest-growing software niches of today? Can a seemingly negligible collection of UI elements change the whole field of education for the better? Let’s dive right in and find out for ourselves.
The State Of Gamification In 2023
Gamification and eLearning are both quickly expanding trends, and statistics show that the benefits are too significant to ignore.
According to eLearning Learning, 80% of US workers find game-based learning to be a more engaging form of education. The implementation of this method has also been found to have a positive impact, with companies reporting that using games as part of their learning strategy increased employee engagement by 60% and productivity by 50%.
89% of employees said they would be more productive if their job was made more fun (be it learning or operational tasks). Gamification appears to be a must-have for any staff education programme. This increased level of engagement is even more desirable in light of European CEO research, which showed that poor employee engagement causes 50% of business transformation programmes to fail.
Gamification has once again proven to be an effective way of increasing a learner’s motivation to participate in training. According to Taylor & Francis, 67% of students found gamified courses to be more motivating than traditional course delivery techniques.
Technical Features of Gamification Implementation
Assuming the gamification elements and goals have already been determined, here are some steps a tech lead might take to implement them:
Define the technical requirements and their feasibility
Define the technical requirements for implementing the gamification elements you chose. This can involve determining what data needs to be tracked, what APIs or libraries will be used, and what changes will need to be made to the existing software architecture.
Take into account the complexity of the gamification elements and the existing software architecture. This is essential to ensure that the new features can be integrated smoothly without introducing issues or slowing down performance.
There are a few more things the development team should consider:
- Integration with existing APIs. Gamification elements may require integration with existing APIs in the software product, so you will need to ensure that the new features are compatible with these APIs and do not cause any conflicts or errors.
- Impact on system performance. Adding gamification elements may impact the performance of the software product, slowing the system down.
- Compatibility with the existing data schema. Gamification elements may require changes to the data schema in the software product. Make sure that the new features are compatible with the existing data schema and do not cause any data integrity issues.
- Security and data privacy. Ensure the new features are secure and comply with data privacy regulations.
Addressing these challenges requires significant coordination between different teams working on the software product, as well as careful planning and testing. All this is necessary to ensure that the new features do not negatively impact the existing system or cause any security issues.
Design the implementation plan and roadmap
The technical team should design an implementation plan that outlines how the gamification elements will be added to the software product. This may involve identifying which APIs or libraries will be used, determining how user data will be tracked, and designing the user interface for the new features.
If there are multiple teams involved in the project, you will need to coordinate the teams to ensure that the implementation plan is feasible and that all technical requirements are met.
Design the user interface
Work with professional UX/UI designers to create the user interface for the new gamification elements. This may involve creating wireframes, mockups, and prototypes to ensure that the new features are easy to use and visually appealing.
Gamification elements should be smoothly integrated into the user journey. This means they must be encountered at appropriate points throughout the user’s interaction with the software product. They should not create unnecessary steps or detours in the user journey.
Develop and test the new features
Once the technical requirements have been defined and the design is ready, the development team may implement and test the new features. This can involve building new APIs or modifying existing ones, creating new UI components, and updating the database schema.
Deploy the new features
Once the new features have been developed and tested, they can be deployed to the production environment. This can involve updating the existing software and ensuring that the new features are integrated smoothly with the rest of the system.
Deploying new features can be risky, mainly if they involve changes to the existing architecture or database schema. The technical team will need to ensure that the deployment process is well-documented, tested thoroughly, and monitored closely to catch any issues that may arise.
Monitor and optimise performance
Continue to monitor the app after everything is deployed. After some time some features may stop performing as expected. Then it’s time for optimisation. It’s important to carry out this whole process continuously, keeping the project up-to-date for its entire lifetime.
Types of Gamification In eLearning
Gamification in education is frequently conveyed in four ways: cosmetic/visual enhancement, add-ons, integrated elements, or by making the learning process a game.
The cosmetic type of gamification is where you would usually add game visuals and design elements to bring your curriculum to life. This could be done with a basic visual roadmap of the curriculum or learning programme. While the programme’s content will stay unchanged, the new visuals may help motivate students.
Gamification as an add-on is where we begin to implement a system of achieving milestones and getting rewards to track progress. This can be accomplished through the use of medals, points, or leaderboards. Implementing this strategy alters little about the existing curriculum, but changes the structure slightly, breaking it down into milestones for learners to accomplish and be rewarded for.
Gaming mechanics become a central component of the learning experience in integrated gamification applications in education. Instead of just adding a game element to an already built program, the entire original programme looks for ways to integrate game elements to create a more balanced experience.
Learning as a Game
Finally, making the learning process a game means creating a complete programme or curriculum from the ground up based around the idea of gaming. The learners are always conscious of the game, but they are only truly aware of learning from it when they are tested.
Gamification Elements in eLearning
You can integrate a variety of gamification strategies into your learning environment. The most well-known are:
Assigning points for finishing various tasks can motivate people to work hard. It also accurately represents their effort level, demonstrating how far they have advanced throughout the course or lesson.
Badges are an excellent method to recognise and reward people for their efforts. A badge is an award that appears on your profile as a virtual object or as a pinned picture. It is an excellent method to demonstrate appreciation for the time and effort the learner put into completing tasks.
Leaderboards are excellent for instilling competition among students, as they will want to see their name at the top and will work harder as a result. You can even make separate leaderboards for various teams, dividing the individuals into smaller groups for more competition.
A challenge is a task that requires an individual to use their time and effort to accomplish something, but it has no negative consequences if failed or done incorrectly. Challenges can include learning techniques such as problem-solving, which requires people to think outside the box to develop a solution.
Milestone unlocks are the prizes you obtain for reaching an important milestone in a game, such as completing a level, defeating a large boss, or breaking a race track’s lap record. Typically, completing the milestone will reward you with a meaningful prize.
For example, when you complete a level, you may receive a reward that makes the next level easier. When you kill a big boss, you may inherit the boss’ superpower or weapon. And when you beat the lap record, you may unlock a faster car or a powerful upgrade for your current one.
Encourage your users to unlock special or rare content as they progress through the game. This content is not part of the standard gameplay and can make the experience feel truly unique. While it’s not mandatory to complete the game, discovering rare content can be a thrilling achievement.
Challenges, progress, time spent, and competitions are just a few metrics that can be used to unlock this content. Consider adding easter eggs: they can often lead to rare content and add an extra layer of excitement to the game.
Progress bars are a clever and efficient way to motivate users to take action. By displaying the progress made and the work remaining, progress bars offer a clear indication of how far you’ve come and how much further you need to go.
Seeing the progress bar slowly inch towards completion can be a powerful incentive to finish the task at hand. Typically, progress bars are represented graphically and illustrate the percentage of work completed through the gradual filling of empty space with solid segments.
Why not spice up the learning experience by letting users connect with friends through a social network feature? Playing and studying with others is always more fun than doing so alone!
Linking up with social networks can unlock new content, allow users to receive more valuable feedback, and let them engage in a wider range of in-app activities. Plus, it’s a great way to raise awareness of your application and attract new users to it.
The collaborative environment of social networks can also help boost the quality of the app for everyone involved. And if you’re looking for an extra incentive, consider offering rewards for referring friends or taking on team-based challenges.
Gamification allows for the creation of a virtual economy based on redeemable or exchangeable points. These points serve as virtual currency and can be exchanged for a variety of virtual and real-world goods.
Users can earn redeemable points to purchase items such as credits, discounts, coupons, physical rewards, collectables, boosters, statuses, and upgrades. As the virtual economy grows, it is important to manage the flow of capital to match supply with demand, just as in real life. Remember to consider how cost implications will vary between virtual and real-world goods.
Time-sensitive rewards are only granted on certain occasions, such as a birthday, a memorable date, or within a designated timeframe. These rewards may also be linked to fixed time intervals, like once a day or once a week. You may have encountered games that offer points for logging in on a specific day – this is a straightforward example of a time-dependent reward.
When it comes to motivating people, storytelling is an extremely effective technique. Storytelling allows you to emotionally connect with your customers and makes people feel involved when unlocking a new achievement or level. It keeps people’s attention while also explaining what’s going on based on their progress – after all, their path to mastery should be simple and enjoyable! Also, it creates a feeling of anticipation and excitement for what’s to come.
Gamification in eLearning
It’s hardly a secret that people’s attention spans have been steadily decreasing as the Internet gained more and more prominence in our everyday lives. This is especially true for the younger generation of children and teenagers, which, unsurprisingly, make up a substantial part of the educational industry. While it’s a bit early to spell the end of traditional teaching methods, more and more tutors have begun the search for new ways of making the learning process more engaging and – perhaps – even more high quality than before.
Gamification of learning seems to be one of the most popular possible solutions to the problem. How come? Well, gaming is an extremely lucrative field of entertainment, one that is well known for its ability to captivate the players’ attention – at times, to the point of hard addiction. While we, of course, wouldn’t want to go that far, the idea of applying some of the popular game design elements to learning comes fairly naturally.
Let’s look at the benefits of this strategy from two different perspectives.
First of all, the learners tend to find gamification highly appealing for several reasons:
- The sense of accomplishment. While minute at first glance, such things as a short satisfying jingle after completing a task or a small animation one sees after getting an achievement can be instrumental in keeping the learner motivated. Seeing a visual representation of one’s progress serves as an amazing incentive in any type of work – education is no exception.
- Instantaneous feedback. Most eLearning solutions have algorithms that help the learners meet all of their task quotas (say, check if their essay has the necessary formatting and word count), as well as tools to quickly and easily assess their mistakes.
- Competitiveness. Harnessing the natural competitive spirit is easily achieved through the use of leaderboards. These serve a similar purpose to progress bars, but with an added social factor, allowing learners to see how they fare against their peers.
- Personalization. One of the most frequently frowned upon disadvantages of the classical schooling system is its rigid nature. A gamified approach allows students to work at their own pace, with the software automatically adjusting to their learning styles. This makes the process far more inclusive, efficient and enjoyable for everyone. And we’re not just talking about complex algorithms here – even the simplest customisation options, such as having a unique avatar or the ability to modify the virtual layout, can impact user engagement in a very positive way.
- Fun. Perhaps, the most obvious of reasons. This is what most people think of when they think about games – and the last thing that comes to mind when they think about school. eLearning gamification bridges the gap between these two notions, effectively turning something that is generally considered a chore into an interesting and enjoyable experience. This is achieved through a careful implementation of various features mentioned before: reward systems, leaderboards, achievements, minigames, etc.
Now, for the other perspective: the tutors. What do the actual educators get out of this practice?
- Versatility. Despite what you might think, gamification of learning works just as effectively on adult learners as it does on kids. Its usage in everything from virtual courses to professional training programs has been growing at a rapid pace – and it’s not showing any signs of stopping.
- Wide appeal. Since eLearning gamification is used to enhance the enjoyment one gets from the educational process, it’s no surprise that employers of this strategy get massive boosts in customer traction. The flexibility that it provides also works wonders for engagement and user retention rates.
- Efficiency. The personalised approach to every learner ensures that the material studied really sticks. This promotes confidence in one’s own abilities, meaning that the student will be encouraged to keep reaching new heights. What’s more, the automatization of various performance assessment features frees up a lot of the tutor’s time, meaning that they have less trivial tasks to worry about.
It should be obvious by now that gamification brings a lot to the table; its advantages for both learners and educators are hard to deny. Still, all of this is purely theoretical. Why don’t we look at some examples to see how eLearning gamification fares in practice?
Best Practices to Gamify Your eLearning Course
Why and How to Gamify
Why are you using gamification in the first place? How will you use game activities to accomplish your objectives? These are the two issues that must be answered before beginning the eLearning development process.
A gamified eLearning strategy will be effective only if it is tailored to the subject matter and the requirements of your target audience. Each technique you employ should be directly related to the learning goals of your eLearning course and should bring you one step closer to achieving the desired results. Otherwise, you might want to try something new.
Enlightenment Before Entertainment
Every element of your eLearning course design must have a rhyme and reason. If you include game mechanics solely for entertainment value, you should reconsider your eLearning approach.
To begin with, your eLearning course should enlighten online trainees. Badges, points, and ranks serve only to supplement the subject matter and motivate students. Remember that the ultimate aim of gamification is to reinforce your online learners and close performance gaps. Your game techniques must support only the necessary actions, behaviours, and abilities.
Move Past Leaderboards
The leaderboard is a popular game mechanic used in eLearning classes. Leaderboards give your online learners a competitive incentive and encourage them to outperform their peers. They work, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to just that.
Points, badges, medals, and awards serve to personalise and deepen your eLearning training. Participants in eLearning courses can go at their own speed and “level up” on their terms, rather than attempting to keep up with their peers. Also, you should ALWAYS inform your online pupils that their progress will be made public and give them the option to opt out. Certain people may be unable to handle the strain or stress of competing.
Lead Learners Through the Process
Online learners must understand what is expected of them and how they will engage with game elements. In other words, you must provide instructions to your online learners that outline the ground principles and guide them through the eLearning process.
How will they accumulate medals or points? Can they use the points to get a prize or an incentive? Each of the elements in your gamified eLearning strategy must be valuable for it to function. For example, if there’s no clear motivation for getting more points (new avatar costumes, perks, leaderboard positions), no one will want to earn them.
Reach Deep Motivation
Some eLearning programmes choose to reward participants with tangible items such as gift vouchers and cash. However, because you are appealing to your pupils’ extrinsic incentives, this can be a slippery slope.
Intrinsic motivators, on the other hand, can fuel online learners on a deeper level by tapping into internal factors such as a desire to succeed and accomplish their objectives. Instead of giving away free goods, encourage your audience to earn badges to complete the eLearning course and receive a completion certificate.
Give Something to Start With
Give online trainees a taste of what’s to come by providing them with introductory badges, awards, or points right away. When you demonstrate the importance of the reward, they will put more effort into the eLearning process, knowing that it will be rewarded in the end. Limit the number of introductory points you give, as too many can reduce the value of your eLearning course and decrease the learners’ extrinsic motivation.
If you attempt to include too many game mechanics or rules, your gamified eLearning strategy can quickly spiral out of control. Keep things as simple as possible and concentrate on your goals and learning objectives. Complicated instructions and methods will only confuse your online students.
For example, if you begin incorporating various badge types or double-point eLearning activities, your corporate learners may become distracted by the gaming aspects themselves and lose sight of the actual end goal.
Limitations for eLearning Gamification
While eLearning gamification can be a useful tool for engaging learners and enhancing their learning experience, there are several limitations to its implementation. Some of these limitations include the following:
- Over-reliance on game elements. When eLearning gamification is implemented poorly, the game elements may overshadow the actual learning content, making it difficult for learners to focus on the subject matter.
- Limited applicability. Gamification may not be appropriate for all types of learning content. For example, it may be challenging to incorporate game elements into complex and technical subjects like physics or engineering.
- Lack of personalisation. Gamification in eLearning may not be tailored to the individual learning needs of each learner, which can lead to learners feeling disengaged or unmotivated.
- Risk of superficial learning. When learners are primarily motivated by game elements, they may focus on earning points or badges instead of learning the material.
- Cost and time considerations. Implementing eLearning gamification can be costly and time-consuming. It requires the development of game elements, which can take significant time and resources.
- Potential distraction. While gamification can increase engagement, it can also be a distraction for some learners. Some learners may find the game elements too flashy or overwhelming, leading to decreased focus and attention.
- Limited assessment of learning outcomes. While gamification can increase motivation, it may not necessarily lead to improved learning outcomes. It can be challenging to assess the effectiveness of gamification in terms of actual learning and retention of material.
- Maintenance and updates. Just like any other technology, gamification elements in eLearning require maintenance and updates to remain effective. This can be time-consuming and may require additional resources.
- Design limitations. The design of gamification elements can also impact their effectiveness. Poorly designed elements can be confusing or frustrating, leading to decreased engagement and motivation.
Overall, eLearning gamification can be a useful tool for enhancing the learning experience, but it’s important to consider these limitations when implementing it. By carefully considering the learning objectives and the needs of the learners, and designing gamification elements effectively, eLearning gamification can be a powerful tool for improving engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes.
5 Outstanding examples of eLearning gamification
It should be obvious by now that gamification brings a lot to the table; its advantages for both learners and educators are hard to deny. Still, all of this is purely theoretical. Why don’t we look at some examples to see how eLearning gamification fares in practice?
Go to Jupiter
The game, titled Go to Jupiter, was created specifically for AstraZeneca. They used this gamified learning solution to educate 500 agents and healthcare representatives about the upcoming introduction of a new anti-cholesterol medication based on a new active ingredient.
The company wanted the activity to be voluntary to keep the sense of fun, so the developer included numerous motivators such as team competitions, team cooperation, mini-games with immediate gameplay, virtual items, rewards for success, leaderboards, and a level progression.
Grasshopper users must finish a quick puzzle game that requires them to recall what they have just learned. However, rather than having to type the correct code from the get-go, users can simply fill in the blanks of an incomplete string by selecting the correct answer from a set of options.
Lifesaver is a series of interactive films that teaches its viewers basic first-aid principles through the usage of tablet capabilities. The plot-driven nature of the app immediately engages the audience, and such features as timed events and branching story paths create excitement that wouldn’t be easy to achieve with a regular PSA. Every playthrough is rated, giving the players an incentive to try and improve their scores, while gaining a better understanding of the material in the process.
McDonald’s Till Training Game
McDonald’s is no stranger to taking a gamified approach to their employee training, being the company that crafted an entire Nintendo DS game for that purpose back in 2006. A more modern example of that would be the till training app developed by Kineo, which offers a safe environment for cashiers to practice. The game implements difficulty levels, lifelines, bonuses and timers to a surprisingly addictive result.
Domino’s Pizza Hero
Domino’s Pizza Hero is a fascinating case of an employee training application being publically available – and used as a recruiting tool to boot! When it was first released, the company reached out to the top 5000 best players with an offer to work as a pizza chef at their restaurant. As for the regular users, the app’s rich use of multimedia, timed challenges and rewards made for an entertaining and learning experience.
If you haven’t used Duolingo before, you’re very likely to know at least a couple of people who have. As it currently stands, Duolingo is the most popular language learning app on the App Store and the Google Play Market. And for good reason: its developers have absolutely mastered the gamification aspect of eLearning! It perfectly incorporates such features as progress bars, levels, daily challenges, win streaks, virtual currency, achievements, rewards, profile customisation and many more – all wrapped in a simple and colourful user-friendly package.
If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that educational systems are in need of change: it’s not just the fact that people’s attention spans have been shortening at a rapid pace, but also the outdated idea that schooling can only be efficient in a physical setting with zero excitement or “childish distractions”. Really, the format of learning itself has to evolve – and eLearning gamification might just be the key to kickstarting that evolution.
Many major businesses seem to think the same: training programs and courses with gamification elements totally dominate the schooling software market. With the growing number of world-class companies adopting this approach to training, as well as more and more educational facilities becoming more open to the idea of trying out something new, it’s safe to say that gamification in eLearning is here to stay. Being immensely popular among tutors and students alike, this methodology is nothing short of a great investment.
But here you may say, “That’s all well and good, but where do I start?” Luckily, harnessing the potential of gamification isn’t as difficult as it seems – at least, when you have a competent developer on your side. Bamboo Agile is well acquainted with what goes into creating an engaging e-learning solution. Whether you wish to develop software for schools, universities, extra courses or professional training, we’ll deliver a product that is both sophisticated and rich with relevant eLearning gamification features. If you want to learn more about our e-learning app development services, check out this page.
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