7 Easy Ways to Gamify Your LearnDash Course
Our new LearnDash Achievements add-on makes gamification easier than ever.
We talk about gamification kind of a lot—and for good reason. Gamification is engaging, motivating, and (most importantly) fun. It’s also a simple way to provide positive feedback to learners, so that they know they’re doing the right thing and making progress in your course. It can even help guide them through your materials so that they can find what they need more readily.
We wanted to make it easier than ever for our users to gamify their courses, which is why we’re proud to announce our latest add-on, LearnDash Achievements. Read on to learn how to install it, and for a few ideas on how to quickly and easily add gamification elements to your online course.
Install LearnDash Achievements
Before we get started, you’ll want to install our LearnDash Achievements add-on. The add-on is free for all LearnDash users, so long as you have an active license of LearnDash installed on your site. (Read the Achievements documentation for more details.)
- On the backend of your WordPress site, navigate to LEARNDASH LMS > ADD-ONS
- Locate the Achievements add-on and click “Install Now.”
- Click the “Activate Plugin” button.
If you are logged in to LearnDash, you can also download the plugin file and install it manually. The Achievements add-on is free for anyone who has a valid LearnDash license.
Now that you have the Achievements plugin, what can you use it for? Here are a few ideas.
1. Encourage new learners to complete course orientation.
When a learner signs up for your course, they are simultaneously at their most engaged and their most confused. That initial burst of energy that came from finally committing to your course can easily burn out if they have to spend a lot of time figuring out what to do next.
Use triggers such as “User logs in,” “User enrolls in a group,” and “User enrolls in a course” as positive reinforcement so that the learner knows they’re on the right path. Seeing that they’re already earning badges can give them extra motivation to keep progressing through the course.
2. Reward learners for exploring resources by including badges on key pages.
Many educators invest a lot of time into developing resources for their courses—infographics, worksheets, guides, and the like—but they may not always have a place in every course. One excellent solution is a resource library that learners can access any time they need, but just creating a valuable resource isn’t a guarantee that learners will find it. (And if they don’t find it, they may get the mistaken impression that your course isn’t providing enough value!)
One way to encourage learners to find resources is to offer them a badge for exploring your site. Use the “User visits a post” badge on your most valuable resources as a signal to learners that they discovered something important.
3. Prompt conversation and participation with a badge for leaving a comment on a post.
Even the brightest students can feel a little shy when it comes to joining in a discussion. Anything you can do to prompt conversation can give learners the spark they need to keep going. The “User adds a comment” trigger can help get the ball rolling, and if you add a small number of points for each comment, it can be an effective way to keep the discussion going and to encourage involvement from more learners.
4. Build an atmosphere of healthy competition with a leaderboard.
Anyone who’s ever played an arcade game understands the thrill of earning a top score. Leaderboards are an excellent way to create a sense of competition in your course, because they spotlight the learners who are working hardest. Social recognition of their hard work can in turn inspire learners on the leaderboard to keep up the good work.
For leaderboards to work, however, you’ll need to think carefully about what actions you want to be attached to points, and how much each of those actions should be weighted. The following three ideas are points-based (although they can also have a badge), but you’ll want to weight them differently to reward learners most for the most meaningful contributions.
5. Reward inspiring authors with more points for engaging content.
If there’s anything harder than getting learners to comment on posts, it might be to get learners to write posts of their own. Content authoring from learners can be an intense part of a course, but it can also provide exceptional value, particularly in communities where participation is a premium. Creating an achievement based on the “User’s post gets visited” trigger, and offering one point per visit, can encourage learners to write more thoughtful, compelling content that more fo their peers will want to read.
6. Encourage quiz-taking with bonus points for extra tests.
Tests are an effective, low-cost way for learners to practice material. The more learners practice, the longer they will retain that material in their long-term memory. Because tests are so closely linked to learning, it makes sense to offer points for completion. While you can offer this for quizzes and tests throughout your quiz, offering bonus or practice quizzes can help learners gain additional exposure to concepts before a crucial test.
You can use the “User passes a quiz” trigger to give learners points (say, 10 points) for completing a quiz. In some cases, you may even want to offer a small bonus, even if a learner fails a quiz. Failure (especially of a practice quiz) isn’t always bad. It can be a way for a learner to think outside the box and try different ideas. Using the “User fails a quiz” trigger may be unorthodox, but if your goal is to encourage exploration, it could have some creative applications in some courses.
7. Offer maximum points for tasks that take additional effort.
Finally, some course tasks a lot of work from the learner. Offering extra points for “User uploads an assignment” can be a virtual high five to a learner after they complete a particularly energy intensive task. Scoring big on the leaderboard can also help motivate a learner who is burning the midnight oil trying to complete an essay.
Gamification doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.
We built our Achievements add-on to be lightweight and easy to use. That’s because we believe more of our users should be able to add gamification to their course—easily, with minimal fuss. We know that for many users, gamification sounds complex and intimidating, and if their priority is to get their first course launched, adding these elements can take a back seat, especially if they seem difficult.
There are, of course, many amazing ways to take gamification to advanced levels, and there are plenty of excellent WordPress plugins out there that can help users do that if they choose to. Some of the popular plugins that we’ve recommended in the past include:
These plugins can help you take your gamification to the next level, when you’re ready. But if you want to get started with gamification now, you can easily do so using the toolbox that comes with your LearnDash license.
So don’t put it off. By making your course more engaging and satisfying for your learners, you’ll see better reviews and more sign-ups for additional courses. We call that a win-win.