Changing your perspective on gamification

Board games

Chris Dunkley is part of the talented team of multimedia designers at eWorks. He is particularly interested in graphic and user experience design. Here, Chris offers advice about the effective use of gamification in e-learning in order to improve the learning experience for students.

Using gamification in learning program design

It’s easy to dismiss gamification as just the latest trendy, marketing buzzword. The term is sometimes associated with the transformation of serious educational content into something which is frivolous. Some gamification techniques can seem like tricks designed to push students through content that is otherwise ineffective, by offering artificial and extrinsic rewards for doing so. It’s easy to argue that these are bad things, but the core ideas that underpin the gamification are good ones. As with any design, gamification must be applied thoughtfully and judiciously to be successful.

Define your success criteria

Success criteria should reward those who engage with the content. A student could, for example, be rewarded for completing a quiz as this demonstrates that he or she has understood the content. A less effective reward would be given for visiting every page in the content, this simply implies that the student has paged through each page of the content and may not have engaged with it at all. When designing your content you need to be clear about the goals you want your students to meet.

Common gamification techniques

Try telling a story with your content. Lending context to actions that the student is required to make can greatly help the student understand why certain actions are required in certain scenarios. Levels and badges can also be used to indicate when a student has achieved something. Levels can be good for showing linear progress through content while badges are best for highlighting individual achievements that may be non-linear.

Gamification should be about learning, not technology

Simply using a high tech solution to a problem doesn’t make it more effective than a low tech solution. Gamification principles can be employed at any level of technology and to any existing e-learning software. Gamification is an approach to design that makes your content more game-like. It’s not about using better technology, or about creating a game that contains learning. It’s about using game elements to improve the learning experience.

Contact eWorks to learn how to apply the principles of gamification to your digital content.