The idea of gamification applied to E-learning can be somewhat misleading. Games and serious learning are two concepts that usually do not go together well. We may easily brush off this idea believing that games are suitable only to teach children or low-skilled learners. We might think that when it comes to serious learning or corporate learning, a classic approach is needed.
However, in recent years, experience has revealed that gamification when applied to online courses makes the learning process much more effective and productive. This is true also in areas where a playful approach would be considered unusual.
For example, a survey among students indicated that 80% of them felt that the learning process would be more productive if the university or organization to which they belonged made the courses more playful.
Prestigious organizations such as Adobe, Ford, eBay, and NBC began to implement gamification ten years ago. The results have convinced these organizations to continue on this path until today.
These are just some examples that indicate that the approach to learning has changed radically in recent years. The public is now attracted to new learning methods that make learning more enjoyable without sacrificing the final results. The concept of games applied to learning is now widely accepted and is used by many organizations to educate students with a high-skills profile.
However, adding gamification to an E-learning platform does not automatically make it better. This teaching method becomes effective only if it is relevant to the specific students and adapted to their needs. Gamification can be implemented through different techniques. These techniques are more or less effective depending on the context in which they are used.
Which are the gamification techniques that are most popular with the public and generate the best results for students? Below we will analyze five gamification techniques that you should consider for your E-learning platform.
Before we discuss these topics, we need to say a few words to clarify what gamification means.
What is Gamification?
Gamification refers to the use of game elements in contexts where play is generally not expected. When applied to E-learning, gaming elements and techniques are used to help achieve the learning process's ultimate goal.
For example, gamification includes the use of challenges, instant feedback, levels to pass, badges, scores, and more. Due to the high level of engagement that these techniques generate, the number of students completing the course is higher and the results are above average.
Why has gamification proved to be a winning choice in the world of E-learning? Because people, in general, have an innate spirit of competition and enjoy achieving goals, socializing, developing new skills, and similar qualities. Gamification strategies precisely use these factors to motivate and stimulate students. Also, the results of gamification steps can be visible and shared with other users, thus promoting a spirit of competition that plays an equally motivating role in the students.
What are the other benefits of including gamification techniques in your online courses?
You may have heard about the 70/20/10 Learning and Development Model. This model is based on a study of how people learn effectively. The research shows that 70% of the learning process is from challenging assignments, 20% from developmental relationships, and 10% from courses and training.
The gamification elements are directly related to 70% of this model as they allow the student to test their skills practically. Any failures will motivate the student to improve in the specific area needed. Additionally, the possibility to share their results with others covers the 20% which is related to the development of external relations where the student receives feedback and learns from the good or bad example of other students.
Based on the 70/20/10 model, gamification offers a complete and efficient learning experience.
Gamification also generates better involvement with the student who takes an active and not a passive role during the course. What could be more annoying than sitting and listening to a lesson without being able to interact? This is one of the elements that weigh most heavily on the performance of students sitting in a classic classroom. At some point, it even leads them to dropping out of the course.
Thanks to gamification, the student is completely immersed in the course and plays an active part that allows them to see and tangibly test their progress. The student does not learn in a theoretical way, rather they put the newly acquired knowledge into practice. As a result of this involvement, courses using gamification have a better completion rate, with higher retention and recall.
How to Gamify a Course
To gamify a course, you need to acquire and analyze detailed information about the course's objective and the type of audience to which it is addressed. This information allows you to plan a gamification strategy that makes the course useful, instructive, and exciting for students.
A basic concept of gamification is to create a learning path that seamlessly guides the student from the first lesson to the completion of the course.
The gamification path must be customized. For example, at each step of the learning, the game elements proposed must be suitable and in line with the results already achieved by the student. It is also useful to provide a dashboard where students can quickly track their progress, monitor their results, and identify areas where they need to focus.
Offering the opportunity to earn points, badges, or other forms of rewards to encourage the student is another important aspect of gamification. Similarly, instant feedback about the activities generates a sense of achievement and helps the learner to continue their learning journey.
"QPSoftware has designed a game-based ecosystem for Techtreck where students can learn about STEM subjects by a wide variety of weekly missions and challenges, this design decision leaded to an improve on motivation and egagement/completion of courses":
Gamification must be fully integrated into the course. Every step of the game must be explained clearly and comprehensively, and the student must have clearly in mind the purpose of the game activity.
It is important to avoid using gamification for pure entertainment purposes. The gaming elements must be aimed at educating the student and should be included only when they are relevant and useful for the final goal.
Best Examples of Techniques to Gamify Your E-Learning Experience
Gamification techniques are different and several of them can be implemented in an online course. Below we will consider 5 methods that have proven to be particularly useful in improving the quality of online courses.
Immersive Gamification for Learning and Training
When gamification was introduced it mostly resorted to very simple activities. Today the public needs more sophisticated solutions to get their attention.
New technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are highly effective in creating an immersive learning experience. These tools can engage all of a student’s senses by creating a learning experience that involves both the student's intellect and emotions.
These elements are particularly useful to increase student performance, especially when students need to develop practical skills.
Adding an avatar to your lessons is a smart way to motivate and engage your audience. The avatar will take on the role of virtual alter egos which introduces a human touch to the lessons.
To be effective, the avatar must be studied in detail. In the design phase, it is necessary to decide not only the look of the avatar but its way of speaking and its character. These characteristics will be determined by the type of students to whom the course is addressed. The avatar must resonate with your audience, it must be somebody they can relate to and trust. As an option, you may even consider allowing the students to personalize the avatar according to their preferences.
Once again, the avatar is not meant to entertain the student but to create a connection, help, and motivate him throughout the course. In this regard, you may use the avatar as the student alter ego who has to overcome each step of the course. Moreover, the avatar must be used to identify the student, to assess his progress, and make the challenge of entering in a virtual world easier.
In a nutshell, the avatar must facilitate the learning process and become a reference point for the student. The challenge is to provide the avatar with visual and behavioral characteristics that make it look friendly.
"At Techtreck every student has the opportunity to create their own avatar, this makes every learning experience feel much more unique and inmersive. At the same time, student's avatar interact and learn with the help and advice of Techtrek characters"
Microlearning refers to the technique of presenting the material in small bite-size portions to the students. Microlearning doesn’t diminish the quality of the course but makes it suitable for the learners.
E-learners deal with several issues like lack of time, limited attention span, tiredness from looking at a screen, and so on. All these factors are discouraging and may hinder the course's effectiveness or push the student to abandon it altogether.
Microlearning aims at supplying high-value information that can be consumed in just two to seven minutes. In this way, the student can learn on the go or during dead times. In any case, the lesson will not be perceived as burdensome.
Combining microlearning with game-like elements makes microlearning even more natural and pleasant to absorb. The retention rate will increase at the same time.
Personalized E-Learning Experience
Even when students come from similar backgrounds, they still have specific needs and circumstances. A limitation of E-learning courses is that you have to accept what has been prepared for you and learn at the same pace that has been set for everyone.
If you want to engage a larger audience and boost overall performance, personalization is needed. Personalized E-learning allows the students to craft the course to their liking and their specific needs.
There are several ways to personalize a course. For instance, a pre-test before starting the lessons may give essential clues to decide what content is needed, how to present it, and at what pace. Moreover, the student may have the possibility to make choices such as personalizing the avatar, duration of the lessons, level of interaction, preferred activities, and more.
Through personalization, the student can decide precisely how to study, what to study, and at what speed. It is an approach that makes the learning process more enjoyable and straight to the point for each specific learner.
Intrinsic Motivation Design
A major challenge for E-learning professionals is to generate intrinsic motivation in the students. Intrinsic motivation is what makes the difference between the “I must study attitude”, and the “I want to study approach”. Intrinsically motivated students will study because they enjoy it and are self-motivated. The efforts they put forth do not depend on a reward or because they are obligated to do so.
To inspire students, gamification plays a critical role. For instance, you can implement activities to challenge your audience and test their acquired skills. It will create a sense of self-accomplishment if the student passes the challenge or provide the motivation needed if he fails. Moreover, multimedia elements and game-like activities are another powerful way to generate interest and stimulate the curiosity of your audience.
Once again, to generate intrinsic motivation, gamification must be relevant to the audience, suitable to its skills, and relate to real-world scenarios.
As you may have noticed, the gamification techniques we discussed in this article can genuinely make your E-learning platform more valuable and appealing to your users.
The QPSoftware team can guide you through each step of the process if you need help studying and developing solutions for your online courses. If you have any questions or want to discuss your project, contact us and we will be glad to assist you in making your E-learning platform grow.