Why You Absolutely Need Gamification in eLearning

Steven Chopade

Posted On May 12, 2023   |   7 min

Gamification in eLearning

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is the addition of game mechanics to a user interface using marketing or instructional content. It is a method of repurposing information that takes advantage of game motivations. Gamification, according to Dr. Joshi is the application of gaming aspects to a process that is otherwise mundane. The core purpose of gamification is to increase involvement and improve outcomes.

Gamification has gained a lot of traction as a result of the Internet and other new technologies.  And, learning & development leaders (L&D) have taken notice. Everyone is probably more familiar with gamification than they realize. Even if it isn’t immediately acknowledged, it is already a common practice. And here is why it should matter to any company whose primary goal is to improve employee satisfaction and engagement.

Benefits Of Gamification in eLearning

The role of gamification is rapidly increasing as it is proving to be a great tool in enhancing the learning experience. For instance, wouldn’t a scenario-based game be more fun to complete rather than a couple-of-questions-long MCQ quiz as part of an onboarding process?

According to a recent study by MarketsandMarkets, the gamification market size in 2020 had a global value of $9.1 billion and is predicted to register an impressive growth rate of 27.4%, reaching $30.7 billion by 2025. No wonder gamification is one of the top 10 must-have features of a learning management system (ProProfs, 2021).

Gamification creates an informal setting where a learner is motivated to explore a topic with an open mind. Here are the top 5 benefits it results in:

  1. Increased learner engagement – Any learning content will have specific goals. Unless the learners are excited about knowing more, the objectives cannot be accomplished. A creative course content challenges the learner to think, and explore, and eventually increases the engagement level.
  2. Better feedback mechanism – Game-based learning allows educators to provide unique ways of giving feedback to the learners, which is essential for understanding the performance curve. It also helps in identifying the knowledge gaps.
  3. Improves knowledge retention – Gamification makes knowledge absorption easy. The game dynamics improve productivity, making the environment conducive to retaining information.
  4. Creates a framework for microlearning – Simplifying the content into nuggets is an attractive and easy way of learning large portions of the content. A gamification design can intrigue a learner to pick up information bites, thus keeping them motivated to learn more.
  5. Promotes learning culture – This benefit is especially true in the case of using gamification for the recruitment and onboarding process. Gamification can increase participation among fellow employees and help them bond right at the start.

Gamification has enabled eLearning to become more creative. The design can have surprise elements to up the curiosity quotient for the learners. For a corporate trainer, it can have real-life scenarios to check employee responses. All in all, gamification has elevated the digital learning process for learners of all ages and groups. Of course, there do exist some challenges while implementing gamification and it would only be fair to take cognizance of those as well.

Challenges Of Gamification in eLearning

Gamification is the use of game elements and mechanics in non-game contexts, such as eLearning, to enhance engagement and motivation. While gamification has the potential to make eLearning more enjoyable and effective, there are several challenges that need to be considered. Here are some of the challenges of gamification in eLearning:

  • Designing effective game mechanics: The game mechanics used in gamification must be carefully designed to align with the learning objectives. The challenge is to make the game mechanics challenging and enjoyable while ensuring that they reinforce the learning goals.
  • Avoiding superficial gamification: Simply adding game elements to eLearning without a clear learning goal or purpose can be counterproductive. Gamification should be used to enhance the learning experience, not just to make it more entertaining.
  • Overcoming learner disinterest: Gamification may not appeal to all learners. Some may find the game mechanics distracting or even irritating. Gamification must be designed with the learner in mind, considering their preferences and learning style.
  • Balancing engagement and learning: While gamification can increase engagement, it must be balanced with the learning content. If the game mechanics become too dominant, they may detract from the learning objectives.
  • Measuring effectiveness: It can be challenging to measure the effectiveness of gamification in eLearning. Metrics such as completion rates, engagement levels, and assessment scores may not fully capture the impact of gamification on learning outcomes.
  • Keeping up with technology: As technology evolves, so do the possibilities for gamification. Keeping up with the latest trends and tools can be a challenge for eLearning developers and educators.

Overall, gamification can be a powerful tool for enhancing eLearning. However, it must be used strategically and thoughtfully to ensure that it supports the learning objectives and engages learners in a meaningful way.

The Fundamentals Of Gamification for Enhanced Learning Experience

Fundamentals Of Gamification

Do you think you can finish reading it under 10 minutes? Only the most efficient readers can. Are you one of them? Let’s find out.

Your time…..starts…..NOW!

The Fundamentals of Gamification in eLearning I’m not serious, of course. But rewind the clock ten seconds, and honestly think for a moment—wasn’t there a part of you that had all but readied itself to read this article at a speed fast enough to put a bullet to shame? I’m willing to bet that there was. Thanks to the incredible human impulse of rising to a challenge; to reap its rewards or even to simply bask in the glory of having ‘bested’ it. It is this very human impulse that gamification taps into and makes any banal process engaging and much more compelling.

When employed in the learning process, especially in eLearning, gamification can not only provide much-needed intrigue and excitement, but it can also vastly enhance the learning experience, making it fun and even quite addictive. Now, much has already been documented on the myriad benefits of gamification, including statistical data proving that gamification dramatically improves learner motivation and knowledge retention. So, instead of trying to make the sale for gamifying your training, let us explore the actual process of how best to achieve that.

Know Your Audience

All the exemplary statistics of gamified learning notwithstanding, any gamification strategy is not guaranteed to work across all learner demographics. A sound gamification strategy must thus start with knowing and understating the target audience. Factors like their average age, job profile, technological proficiency, and even cultural considerations play a critical role in selecting the right solution.

Consider the Content

Besides the target audience, the right gamification strategy largely depends on the knowledge material or content. While it has become a common practice to turn the content into your average scored and/or timed assessment questions, albeit packaged into a fancy gamified activity, not all types of content can be or even should be treated as such. In some cases, the content may warrant multiple viewings, revisions, and being largely retained in its original format. An alternative, in such cases, could be gamifying the learning pathway, or in other words, the progression of the learner as they navigate through these materials. It is never a good idea to try and fit the content into a pre-determined gamification strategy. Rather, the content itself must dictate what strategy would be right for it.

Introduce Choices

Pre-packaged gaming routines tend to be too familiar, resulting in learners losing interest soon enough. Your gamification strategy should let the learner control some elements of the experience. Options to select individual avatars, roles, environment settings, and so on are a good place to start. You can also think about providing trade-off choices that can make the experience more interesting and ultimately, more rewarding. Sacrificing scores for hints, and being able to select more points initially while giving up a ‘life’ are but a few examples of such trade-offs. Employing branching scenarios is yet another way of letting the learner make key decisions and then showing them the consequences of those decisions. Whatever strategy you choose to go with, the end goal is to ensure that each learner ends up having a different experience than another, based on their choices.

Choice way concept. Decision business metaphor. Vector flat style design. Isolated on the background.

Maintain Continuity

It can help your cause to tie together multiple gamified courses under a common theme or story arc, or even with common characters. Learners tend to be more engaged in subsequent “episodes” of the overall narrative, as they feel invested and naturally wish to explore further with much enthusiasm. However, to be tied together like this, it is important that the different training courses have a common business goal or similar learning goals. Continuity must also be maintained within a single course. The idea is to make the learner feel that the learning experience is a continuous, cohesive journey.

Provide Constant Feedback

While in some cases, it is conceivable that delayed feedback and gratification may be more helpful, a gamification strategy is best served when the learner gets to feel that their learning experience is, for lack of a better word, ‘alive’. Providing constant feedback in terms of hints, tips, comments, and recommendation help make the learner feel that what they are interacting with is talking to them, which enhances their engagement. You should also keep rewarding the learners with motivating feedback elements like badges, trophies, leaderboard ranks, etc. However, remember to not over-reward them, else you risk trivializing the rewards themselves.

Up the Ante

The final critical element of designing a good gamification strategy is to not make it monotonous. Many a time, gamified solutions have the learners do the same thing over and over, across multiple rounds/levels. This gets old soon as the novelty wears off. You must keep raising the bar of difficulty and challenge with each new phase of the solution. You can also introduce newer environments, newer features to tinker with, and even newer types of rewards.

boy with a sword and coins inside of a coffer with life bars.

Implement these strategies correctly and you will have designed an effective gamified solution for your learners, one that they will enjoy experiencing. Gamification should not be about winning or losing or being the best right away. A great gamified solution is instead more about multiple revisits to ‘get it right’. It keeps the learner yearning for more.

Gamification helps a lot in eLearning, read some similar harbinger strategies and how to implement them, and read the Gamification case study