E-Learning Gamification Made Simple

We all love our buzzwords in the field of e-learning. Responsive design, localization, social learning, blended learning, flipped classroom, flat design…the list goes on and on. Although some buzzwords come and go with the times, there are other buzzwords that seem to stick around. E-learning gamification is one of these terms.

The idea of introducing games into learning is nothing new. When I think about my time spent as a child in grade school, almost every lesson was turned into a game of some type. The truth is, people of all ages love games. Games are interactive and engaging, and they create motivation through challenge and accomplishment.

Although the appeal of e-learning gamification is high, many e-learning developers shy away from it. There’s a perception that gamification is overly complicated and technically challenging. This comes from the idea that e-learning gamification is all about creating complex games. And this simply is not true. Gamification is really about applying game-like elements or strategies to enhance the learning experience.

Here are three ways you can easily gamify your next e-learning course.

1. Make it suspenseful.

Suspense is a classic technique used in both movies and games alike. Suspense gets the adrenaline rushing and creates a sense of urgency. Suspense can easily be created by adding a timer to a quiz or by incorporating mystery into a narrative.

Here’s an example of a simple trivia-style quiz I created in Articulate Storyline that uses a timer to add suspense.

Game 1

View the Example | Download the Articulate Storyline File

2. Make it personal.

E-Learning personalization is another one of those buzzwords I mentioned earlier. Although I think personalization could be its own category outside e-learning gamification, I still consider it a technique used frequently in gaming. When I play a game, the ability to select a character or customize the gameplay gives me a sense of ownership and makes the experience feel unique.

Here’s an example of a branched scenario that takes advantage of several different personalization techniques.

Game 2

View the Example | Download the Articulate Storyline File

3. Make it rewarding.

Most games result in a reward of some kind. Points, badges, and leaderboards are all popular ways to create a sense of accomplishment and competition. When I play a game, I know the points don’t really earn me anything, but they keep me motivated and engaged anyway. The same can be true for e-learning gamification. The perception of earning points or a badge might be all it takes to create a higher level of learner engagement.

In this final example, I use a series of quizzes that reward the user with a badge upon completion.

Game 3

View the Example | Download the Articulate Storyline File

Remember, e-Learning gamification doesn’t have to be difficult or technically complex. Most courses can be easily “gamified” by adding one or more simple elements, be it a timer to a quiz or personalization to a scenario. It isn’t about creating actual games: it’s about creating a game-like experience.

What other ways have you used gamification in your e-learning projects? Share your ideas by commenting below.

Tim Slade
Tim Slade is the Creative Director & E-Learning Authoring Tools Trainer for Artisan E-Learning and E-Learning Uncovered. Tim has 8+ years of e-learning experience, working to help others elevate their e-learning and visual communications content. Tim has been recognized and awarded within the e-learning industry multiple times for his creative and innovative design aesthetics. Tim also speaks regularly at national e-learning conferences, is a recognized Articulate Super Hero, and is co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

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