Gamfication is quite popular today, and with good reason.
Done correctly it can really create an enjoyable learning experience.
Sadly though there are many elearning programs that don’t use gamification to its fullest potential.
That said, getting started with gamification is easy. In fact, all you really need is a mechanism to administer points and badges.
Just Points and Badges?
In short: yes.
You don’t need to go overboard with gamification. Smart use of points, badges, and awards can have a measurable impact on the user experience for your course.
By way of example, consider the popular language learning program Duolingo.
If you haven’t heard of Duolingo, it’s a free online training program for teaching foreign languages. In my opinion it is one of the best examples of “gamification done right”.
Seriously, go see for yourself (it’s free to create an account).
As you progress through your course you will be earning points, collecting digital currency, unlocking new levels, obtaining badges, and more.
The gamification aspect of Duolingo has made learning a language quite enjoyable – especially when you consider how tedious language learning can be in a traditional sense.
Don’t Forget The Content
While having gamification in your elearning is a good idea, it shouldn’t be your main priority.
One criticism of Duolingo is that the actual course content is rather shallow.
I tend to agree.
I am fairly capable in French and decided to use Duolingo to stay “fresh”. While the gaming elements of the course are enjoyable, the actual content is less practical than other language courses I have taken.
By way of example, sentences seem to be randomly generated. You’ll find yourself translating things like, “She bought us five red dresses yesterday” and then the next sentence will be completely unrelated.
There is little situational context for practical application. The content is one-dimensional and is centered around continuous progress and earning rewards.
Can you still learn from the course? Absolutely, but there is room for the content to be more effective.
If you are going to follow Duolingo’s lead, make sure to pay attention to your content first and the gaming elements second. Remember that gamification is meant to enhance your content.
Still, Duolingo is a perfect case study for effective gamification and you should certainly use it as inspiration for your courses.