How to Use the Power of Gamification in e-Learning

Gamification in e-learning

One day in class, my teacher of history played a mock trial of Napoleon Bonaparte. Was the historic figure a great leader, or a heartless dictator? Investigative materials to the court were the educational material on that topic. The scheme of a lesson and our roles were written on the blackboard. We had separate places for the prosecution and the defence, the judge and the dock. The whole class entered the game. The lesson made a real firework. It took place in 1997. Now such a method is called gamification of learning and successfully being used in online space.

Their Majesties the Games

People had invented different games throughout their history. There are really many games. PlayStation4 alone currently has 1705 video games. Each of us was once really passionate about a game. Someone with basketball, someone with chess, someone with Clue, and someone with World of Warcraft or Plants vs Zombies. Games have tremendous power, and make us experience a variety of feelings. We are addicted to the game process, we feel involvement in the team and satisfaction from the result achieved. A well-designed game is a complex and multifaceted tool that can significantly influence our motivation. This is the essence of implementing gamification strategies in learning.

The core of gamification:

  • The goal of gamification is to attract the attention of trainees, increase their interest in solving educational tasks and understanding of how to apply the received knowledge in practice.
  • The basic principle is to provide the constant feedback from the user to adjust learning through gamification with a phased immersion in the topic without losing the attention of the user.
  • As for projection, gamification facts and figures point that the gamification industry in education is expected to grow to nearly 1.5 billion dollars in 2020.
Statistic: Value of the education gamification market worldwide in 2015 and 2020 (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista

Why gamification of learning is efficient

Education is already partly gamified. At school the student who correctly performes the exercise in the lesson gets a good mark. If he makes a number of mistakes - earns a bad one. At the end of each academic year there is "level up" and transition to another "level". Portraits of the best "gamers" proudly look from the board of honor. Why stop there? After all, any learning course can use gamification tools.

Gamification is about using game rules to achieve realistic goals. At the expense of the game you make boring tasks interesting, avoidable and complex things turn into desired and simple ones. With regard to elearning, gamification helps to motivate a student to learn, to visit the site of elearning gamification platform more often, and finally, to complete training.

Why does elearning need gamification techniques?

Learning is work. The game is a sweet seasoning. It makes learning fascinating and enjoyable, so that students willingly return to it.
A person remembers better what brings emotions. No matter, positive or negative - any strong impression leaves a deep imprint in the memory.
Splitting the entire educational course into feasible "quests" allows you to control the attention of users and to give students a sense of victory with each performed block of exercises.
Linking assignments to the real goals of the student removes the feeling of the senselessness of the exercises.
Visibility of progress. A visual indication of the current situation on the way to performing the tasks embedded in the teaching game allows you to keep the motivation of the "player".

What challenges of elearning can gamification solve?

Undoubtedly, e-learning is very convenient and useful, though it has some challenges to overcome. People start a course easily, however they often quit it on a halfway. Gamification can help to change the situation.


Tedious study of the theory or viewing endless information is a very difficult and painful process for many students, it does not bring any joy and positive emotions. The memorability of the educational material is close to zero. The student is bored by reading or watching material and performing assignments. He quickly quits, does not retract.

The main idea of ​​gamification in e-learning is that you get pleasure as a result of solving game problems and gaining experience in a particular game. It turns out that the game satisfies one of the most important innate psychological needs of a person: confidence in their knowledge and experience; gives them the sense that they do something better than others.


The student may not understand how one or the other training service is better than analogues. Most likely, he already tried online training and it did not work out. He ignores the tests and written assignments, without giving a feedback, and gradually loses the motivation to continue learning. As a result, training can not be considered successful.

Online gamification wakes up the interest of students to see their progress in learning - that's when the feeling of pleasure and satisfaction comes from the game. It is necessary not just to create the game, but also to think over its motivational structure. All tasks performed during the game must advance the player to the next level, so that he sees his status and achievements. Here, an important factor is the feedback, which helps the player to understand how to improve his success.

A margin for error.

When using standard learning methods, fear and stress due to a failed test demotivate the student. As a result, the learner becomes reluctant and the material will not be learned well.

The embodiment of gamification in learning allows creating efficient strategies for avoiding and correcting mistakes. In addition, in the game all the failures are positioned in the entertaining section, since they do not entail any serious consequences. Psychological research argues that such a "learning from the mistakes" is quite effective.

How to implement gamification in eLearning

According to the definition, gamification is understood as the application of the game elements and techniques used in the design of games in non-gaming contexts. There are three important points in the definition to take into account during gamification software development:

  1. Game elements;
  2. Game mechanics;
  3. Non-gaming contexts (situations).

Game elements

Gamification elements in elearning can significantly enhance the motivation. And another reward is not always necessary, since the game itself is a reward. At a time when children play video games, they can spend a huge amount of resources on getting virtual objects that do not have real value.

What elements of the game process can be used for educational purposes?

Progress is a visual representation of continuous growth:

  • Levels - expansion and opening of access to content;
  • Achievements - getting recognition for the completion of certain tasks;
  • Points - a digital indication of the significance of your work.

The gradual opening of access to new information:

  • Discoveries - explore your educational environment and discover new fragments of knowledge;
  • New assignments - unlock new assignments step by step;
  • Synthesis - work on tasks that require several skills at once.

Engaging and motivating students:

  • Bonuses - get unexpected rewards;
  • Collaborate - act together to achieve goals;
  • Preventing losses - play to prevent the loss of what has already been earned;
  • Endless game - learn constantly, until you become an expert;
  • Countdown - perform tasks for a limited period of time.

Game mechanics

The second point, game mechanics, requires you a skill to think like a game developer. Look at the learning process from a new angle. Imagine that you are developing a game. In fact, we all create games, starting with games on the playground, we just do not organize this activity, and we do not think about creating games as a skill that can be developed.

This does not mean that you need to become a game developer. No, just look at the task differently. This also does not mean that you need to think like a player. We are all players in one way or another, as we all play games, however when we play, we do not think about how the game is structured. If you are a game developer, you think about the components of the game, and how to properly combine and use them.

Components of the game mechanics are:

  • challenges - the goals you need to achieve;
  • shot - an element of randomness and luck;
  • interaction and cooperation;
  • order of the game;
  • feedback - players need to see the results of their work to move forward;
  • win-win situation.

Non-gaming contexts

The final component of the definition, non-game contexts, includes situations where it is necessary to achieve different non-game goals. In our case, it is everything related to e-learning: online learning courses, corporate e-learning, virtual classrooms, etc.

Elearning gamification mistakes to avoid

Do not think that gamification is a panacea. Of course, it helps in achieving goals, yet playing for the sake of the game does not make sense. An inappropriate use of gamification in learning is the direct path to disappointment in the methodology itself. Let's review the most common mistakes in this regard:

  • Awards for nothing.
    Virtual awards are a simple and practically free way to give non-material motivation to your students. Various awards in the form of badges or medals add excitement to the learning process. At the same time, this method of motivation has the ability to depreciate very quickly in the perception of "players". It's ideal when the medals are given out only for real wins, i.e. for what is an indisputable and objective achievement for all.

  • Short strategy.
    Even the most fascinating game sooner or later gets boring and, as a rule, it happens sooner rather than later. With proper implementation, gamification becomes the common and integral attribute of learning activity.

  • Focus on competition.
    Of course, competitions play a big role in gamification. A rivalry is one of the main elements in the strategy of gamification, nonetheless it is important not to lose sight of other aspects, such as positive striving, cooperation and teamwork. To really captivate your audience, the goal of the gamification should not be just competition. Focus on involving your students in the main task of the application, and not in taking the first place in the leaderboard.

Examples of using gamification in the educational process

Education no longer looks like a dull process of providing information and testing for understanding and keeping it in memory. The goal of modern educational apps is to attract students, stimulate their interest, preserve their attention to the learning process and maintain a positive atmosphere in the learning process. Here are some noteworthy e-learning gamification examples:

Stav Online

Stav Online

Stav Online is a dynamic online platform that makes learning Danish spelling and grammar efficient and exciting. This elearning application focuses on academic goals for each grade.

STAV Online is systematically structured so that students acquire a basic knowledge of grammar, spelling and punctuation, and get a good spelling habits. The game and competition elements built into each task make learning fun and motivating. Stav Online also gives a teacher an overview of the total of the class and the level of each student and thus the opportunity to organize the learning process.



Duolingo is one of the most famous web tools that uses elements of gamification. Language training in Duolingo is built on the basis of a system of lessons, and in each lesson there is an element of the game.

Students can earn points for correct answers and academic achievements. By the results of achievements, students can paint the skills tree in a special color, earn local currency, which can be spent on additional language modules and tests, as well as other additional functions. There are also collective projects in Duolingo, for example, joint translations of large texts.



Coursera is an educational technology platform with courses in subjects ranging from science and engineering to humanitarian disciplines and the basics of business. The course is presented as a series of short video lectures on various topics and assignments, which is usually designed for a week.

As in other examples of using gamification methods in the learning process, the test results are immediately sent to the student, as well as to the teachers, providing feedback and support to the students. The constant feedback allows students to independently monitor their achievements and evaluate the understanding of the material studied. In some cases, a level system, badges and other reward systems are used.

UberDrive game


UberDrive game is a great example of corporate elearning. The base of Uber drivers is over 200 thousand people all over the world and there is no better way to train them than the game. This free mobile app helps drivers memorize the most efficient routes and improve their navigation skills.

Players use a real map and their task is to pick up passengers and transport them to their destinations. Drivers choose the route themselves, however at the end of the game they get the best route and points generated based on how their own version was close to optimal. Such gamification motivates drivers to pursue self-improvement and provides a clear visualization of the learning process.

Closing remarks

High technologies gave us not only smartphones, tablets, WiFi and YouTube. Modern technologies are changing the world and one of the trends is gamification of business and life. Educational institutions can not ignore this fact. Gamification is a powerful tool for increasing the effectiveness of training, which can be used in almost any field of knowledge.

There are many applications in which gamification methods have been successfully implemented and show excellent results. If you have embraced the idea and want to add game elements to your existing application or develop a new gamification app from scratch, please contact us - we will be glad to help!

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