How can gamification be used to enhance e-learning?

Gamification in e-learning has had some bad rep lately, probably because people are finally starting to see for what it is. The hype and shouting that it would fix all engagement issues are thankfully coming to an end. It is making way for real projects with realistic goals and intentions. Unlike some in the gamification industry, I have always maintained that on average between 10 to 20% of improvement comes about from gamification in user engagement, knowledge retention, etc. But that happens only if and when the basics are also covered,

What are the other basics that need to be in place to make gamified e-learning work?

The learning experience always starts by exploring what your learner already knows and where they may benefit from improving. Based on this starting point a learning designer would map out content and work with subject matter experts to generate an engaging learning design. The learning designer in tune with learning science will know when to create theory and when to build in practice.

Prove it framework of learning gamification
Prove it! Learning gamification framework by An Coppens (2014)

In order to create a gamified learning journey, you need to understand why the learner learns and what level of proof they want. When you know this, then you can start applying game psychology to encourage them to repeat steps and explore how their choices may result in outcomes that may be different from what they intended. Content gamification can make the content more interesting through the use of narrative, scenarios with choices and consequences, insights and feedback as you go.

When you are then moulding the content into a learning module, the design and functionality become the next focus. Today’s learner is used to great user experiences from the apps they use for personal use. Anything less will drive them away and will basically make them go to social media or other online resources to learn about the content. User experience, graphics and ease of access are critical for your e-learning to succeed above and beyond gamification.

In my Prove It framework for the gamification of learning, I include a number of elements that allow for first-person learning, which is a departure from passive click through e-learning where you are merely an onlooker. In games you are the active player, this should be the same when you apply gamification to e-learning. You may still have instruction happening, so one doesn’t rule out the other by default.

content gamification in the prove it framework
Prove it! Learning gamification framework by An Coppens (2014)


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