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Gamification Strategies For Your Next Ecourse


The most effective elearning courses are those that keep learners engaged, and that play on their natural desire to achieve and overcome challenges. One way to ensure this happens is to weave gamification strategies into your course design. Keep reading to learn more about the effectiveness of gamification along with some strategies that you can apply.

Here are some of the elements of gaming that are often used in gamification:

  • Teams
  • Rewards And Consequences
  • Scoring And Leaderboards
  • Rules of Play
  • Reputation
  • Storytelling
  • Quests And Adventures
  • Badges And Rewards
  • Rankings

A University of Colorado at Denver study conducted by associate professor Traci Sitzmann showed that subjects scored higher on tests after they were taught using gamification.An overwhelming majority of millennials have grown up with gaming as part of their lives as well. Doesn’t it make sense to incorporate gamification into your elearning course development?

The following tips will help you to apply gamification concepts to your next ecourse.

Understanding The Difference Between Gamification And Gaming

Gamification should not be confused with learning games. While learning games can be an absolutely valid learning tool, they simply are not the same thing. You may or may not be using learning games in your elearning courses. If not, you have probably experienced learning games at some point in your life.

With learning games, there is usually instruction first. Then, games are included to reinforce instruction and to provide a bit of a reward for working through the educational material. With gamification, instruction and gameplay are woven together. The learning process becomes the game.

Allow Learners to Select Avatars or Select Characters

When students register for your elearning course, give them the option to select an avatar or character that will represent them as they progress through your class. This will be what represents them in your course and to other students.

At first glance, this may seem frivolous. However, the truth is people bond with characters. They want them to succeed. This can be an important motivating factor.

Use Storytelling in Instructional Text And Incorporate The Student's Character Name

Instead of simply presenting the information you want your students to master, frame that information as a story. If you can customize the stories using the student’s avatar or character name, that’s even better.

Of course, creativity goes a long way in applying this strategy. If you can incorporate visual elements such as animations like those created by Spiel, your storytelling will have even more depth and be even more compelling to your audience members.

Keep Learners Engaged With Interaction

If you have a gaming enthusiast in your life, you know that they can play their chosen game for hours at a time. You also know that there is very little down time in gaming. Gamers are continually advancing through levels, learning new skills, building relationships with other characters, etc.

If you are a gamer, you may have noticed that you can play games without losing focus, getting drowsy, or succumbing to distractions. On the other hand, passive activities like reading or listening to a lecture put you to sleep.

One word can be used to describe this phenomenon; Interaction! Keep learners clicking on things, typing answers, listening, and watching. They’ll be much more likely to remain engaged.

Give Options And Allow Students to Choose Their Own Adventure

Traditional learning is linear. This gives pupils very little control over their education. In gaming, on the other hand, choice is very much a part of the process. For example, consider the wildly popular Facebook game, Criminal Case. The ultimate goal of the game is to solve crimes by gathering hints. However, players are given plenty of choices as to how they proceed. They pick which crime scenes to investigate. They select which pieces of evidence they want to review and when, and they choose which subjects they want to interview.

Yes, ultimately every piece of evidence must be examined, and every suspect must be interviewed. The point is that giving control over the process keeps students interested and invested.

Incorporate Easter Eggs

An Easter egg is a bonus that is given to gamers for a variety of reasons. They may stumble on an Easter egg simply by luck. For example, if they take a series of steps predefined by the game designer, but not revealed to players, they are given an Easter egg. An Easter egg might also be used as an additional, undocumented reward for progressing in a game.

In video gaming, Easter eggs are often fun and frivolous. In elearning, Easter eggs can be used in ways that are directly relevant to the material being presented. For example, when a student masters something, their ‘Easter egg’ could be a link to an informative video or a challenge that allows them to earn extra points.

Use a Points System

Speaking of points, we keep score for a reason. It appeals to the competitive nature that many people possess. Points are a tangible way of measuring one's own progress as well as comparing your performance to others. As learners complete tasks, take quizzes, or simply spend time engaged in your course, reward them with points.

Create a Community Leaderboard

This is where competition becomes key. When you design your next elearning course, consider adding a community area where people can compare scores, share tips, and see how they are progressing in relation to others. You’ll encourage interaction and socialization between students and provide motivation to work through the material you have presented.

Incorporate Time Limits

‘Let’s make it a race!’ For many people, these words are taken as an absolute challenge. Time limits are an amazingly effective gamification strategy that you can apply to your ecourses. For example, you can:

  • Create Scenarios Where Students or Teams of Students Race One Another
  • Use Countdown Clocks When Testing Learners
  • Associate Bonus Points With Completing Tasks Quickly
  • Use Visuals to Indicate The Passage of Time

Use Gaming Like Visuals

The purpose of gamification is to weave gaming concepts into the learning experience. This means starting at the design phase, and finding ways to apply the look and feel of gaming into the classes that you design.

Consider the look and feel of your course. Does it seem like the online representation of a textbook? That might be appealing to those are intrinsically motivated by learning opportunities, but it won’t necessarily appeal to the inner gamer that likely exists in your audience members.

Games frequently use parallax scrolling. Their images tend to be edgier. Designers often use dark backgrounds, etc. You may have also noticed that in games, progress is often made horizontally. People progress from left to right. On the other hand, traditional (read boring) learning happens top to bottom.

There are so many proven and peer reviewed reasons to incorporate gamification as you design elearning courses. Gamification appeals to so many of our personality traits. It also serves as motivating factor for those who are just beginning the learning process.

The tips provided above, should provide guidance for anyone who wishes to incorporate gamification into their elearning courses.  If you are marketing your ecourses, it may be time to get everyone on the same page and embrace gamification.

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