Gamify An E-Learning Interaction

Gamification is more than just an e-learning buzzword. It’s a great way to engage your learners and make them actually want to complete your course. So if course designers know learners prefer gamified e-learning and it’s more effective, why aren’t we seeing more of it?

One reason I keep hearing is that it’s complicated and time-consuming to gamify a course. With the help of Nicole Legault’s article Gamification Techniques: How to Apply Them to E-Learning, I decided to try it out for myself by turning this “Meet the Team” interaction into a gamified course. Click here to check out the finished result, and read on to find out how I did it.

1. Add A Story

Add A Story Illustration

My original “Meet the Team” interaction was a classic click-and-reveal. To gamify it, the first thing I did was add a narrative. Instead of just presenting the learners with information about each team member, I folded the interaction into a story where their boss introduces them to their team members. Then the learner must seek help from their coworkers to complete a series of tasks. To succeed, they have to use what they know about their teammates to decide who they should approach for help.

While doing this gives the course intrigue, it also helps learners understand why knowing who does what can be useful to them. That relevance increases the likelihood that they will pay attention and retain that information.

The good news is that you don't need much to create a compelling story. In this case, all I did was insert a couple of text bubbles (or captions). Then, instead of simply describing the situation, I let my characters tell the story with a dialogue in the bubbles.

2. Offer A Personalized Learning Path

Add A Personalized Learning Path Illustration

The next thing I did to give my interaction a game-like feel was to personalize the course and give learners more control over their journey. I did this in three main ways, by:

  • addressing them by their first name
  • asking them to choose their role
  • giving them access to “on demand” content

To accomplish this, I first inserted a data-entry field with a variable reference (click here to see how) to capture the learner’s name. Then I added two buttons, each with a trigger linking it to the scene associated with that role. Finally, I added a player tab that linked to the “Meet the Team” content, so they could go back and review it without losing their spot in the course.

3. Present Them With A Challenge

Add A Challenge Illustration

To encourage the learner to not only interact with the screen but also to interact with the content, I added a series of challenges. These challenges, or decision-making activities, present the learner with a task that they will need help with, and ask them to decide which of their teammates would be best suited to help them.

Adding these challenges was easy, as they are basically just quiz questions. The only difference is that instead of getting points for correct/incorrect answers, my boss is more or less happy with me, as seen on the progress meter described below.

4. Include A Progress Meter

Add A Progress Meter

As Nicole explains, the possibility of losing something is more likely to motivate people than the opportunity to gain something else. This basic principle, called loss aversion, can be found in most games in the form of negative points. In this example, I decided to add a progress meter that both adds and subtracts points depending on the learner’s answers, and also serves as visual feedback to them about how they’re doing.

To do this, I downloaded this progress meter template that David Anderson built using personalized states and added a variable and triggers so that it adjusts automatically based on the learner’s answers. I also decided to add it to the player tabs so learners could see it at any time. Check out this video for more details on how to create a progress meter.

5. Give Them A Second (or Third!) Chance

Give Them A Second Chance Illustration

Have you ever spent hours on the same game, trying to beat your own score? If you’re a gamer, chances are the answer is yes. The opportunity to outdo yourself is addictive. So why not use that same principle to motivate your learners to do their best by allowing them to retry as many times as they’d like?

To incorporate this final element into my course, I added a results slide that includes all the questions in both learning paths. Then I checked the box to allow learners to retry the quiz and adjusted the pass percentage. Easy-peasy!

If you want to try out e-learning gamification for yourself but feel intimidated, just remember: you don’t have to add all the elements of a game to your course for it to be fun and effective. A few can be enough to give it a game-like feel that your learners will love. Get a jump-start by downloading this template.

Can’t get enough gamification? Don’t miss all the great resources on this page.

Have you created a gamified e-learning course? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.

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Stephen Robinson
Stephen Robinson