If you design or develop e-learning, chances are you’ve heard the term “gamification.” Simply put, gamification is the application of gaming elements and techniques to e-learning content in an effort to make it more engaging and fun. Gamification involves using game mechanics  like rules, narratives, levels, scores, and time constraints in your e-learning. 

There are a few advantages to “gamifying” your courses. Let’s take a look at how gamification relates to e-learning.

Capture Learners' Interest

Most people love games! They’re fun—which is exactly why you should consider adding gaming elements to your courses.

For instance, you can capture your learners’ interest by writing a narrative, adding interactivity, and giving players control over their experience. Using a story with characters and a plot hooks your learners and makes them want to find out what happens. Allowing for discovery can also pique their curiosity and encourage them to click around and discover your course content. Using these types of gaming elements pulls learners into the course content, rather than having them just passively click the “next” button for more bullet points.

Increase Engagement & Retention

Once you’ve captured your learners’ interest, you want to keep them engaged by prompting them to think and make decisions. Gaming elements can help you achieve these goals too.

For instance, offering rewards and an opportunity to gain bonus points for questions answered correctly can keep people on the edges of their seats. Using these types of techniques is a clever way to encourage engagement, as they require learners to interact with the course content. And it goes without saying that the more interested and engaged your learners are, the more content they’ll absorb and retain!

Promote Healthy Competition

The desire to win is a natural human instinct. And gamification can be a great way to spur some healthy competition, either across teams or even just against themselves.

The gaming technique of continuous play—in other words, allowing learners to keep trying over and over—can encourage learners to compete against themselves to improve their own score. Some companies use leaderboards, rankings, or badging systems to show how well employees are doing in their online training. Of course, you always want to approach these types of ideas carefully and be wary of showing personal scores or calling out the lowest scorers.

The Bottom Line

There are so many ways to gamify your e-learning. Using the ideas here or coming up with your own gaming elements for your projects can transform content into something relatable and engaging. Plus, it can really make the learner feel like they’re having fun while learning. 

Need more inspiration on gamifying your content? These resources will help you get started.  


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Chris Wall

I love this idea, though a) I rarely see it done as I think it ought to be done, and b) I can never get approval for doing this the way I think it ought to be done. Think of it: create a sales training course that combines elements of something like the famous Broken Coworker to present content, then have the user make a selection based on what was just presented. Then you get feedback and information you need to put to use later in the course based on the selection you made. You also get scored. Now, if you have an LMS capable of doing this, create a leader board that shows everyone you're training, where they stand compared to each other. Obviously, one of the tricks is making the best choices not too obvious so that you see enough variations in the scores to make a leader board... Expand

wendy G