Gamification is an often misused and misunderstood term. Gamification is defined as the use of game thinking and game mechanics to solve problems, motivate and engage participants. When we use gamification in a learning context, we employ game mechanics and methodologies to engage the learner and to motivate them to continue engaging with the material.
You might not realize it, but you’ve already had some experience with the three most commonly used game mechanics: point systems, badges and leaderboards. Almost everyone belongs to a “loyalty club” where you earn points for using a particular company’s product or service, such as airline miles. And we’ve all been earning badges for years – since the first “gold stars” earned in grade school – to wearing an “I voted” sticker on voting day. Leaderboards can be found everywhere from bowling team scoreboards to fundraising goal boards.
There are many ways you can use gamification to increase motivation and engagement in your instructional design projects. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Award Learners with Points: Create opportunities for the learner to earn points throughout the learning module. The learner could earn a point for each correctly answered knowledge check, or a point for each section of a module completed.
Reward Accomplishments with Badges: At the end of each module completed, award the learner with a badge. You can also encourage camaraderie among a group of learners by setting up a badge system where learners achieve something as a team. For example, set a goal of 90% of the participants successfully completing the modules and earning a team badge.
Use a Leaderboard: Did you ever try to get a top score on a video game so you could add your initials to the top ranks? Everyone loves to see his or her name on the leaderboard, and you can encourage your learners by challenging them to earn a top spot. This doesn’t have to be with a group of live competitors – the leaderboard can show high scores from learners who have also taken the course in the past.
Gamification offers so much more than just the three examples I’ve shown you today. The tip here is to get out there and explore gamification and experiment with game thinking and game mechanics to make your learning projects more engaging.