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Engaging Learners with Gamification: Unlocking the Secrets of Motivating E-Learners

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  • Gamification involves incorporating game elements and techniques into non-game contexts. It has gained popularity among universities and corporations, offering components such as points, levels, rewards, badges, avatars, leaderboards, and progression. However, it's important to remember that gamification should serve a purpose beyond simply playing the game, and its use may not always be appropriate. When implemented effectively, gamification can be a powerful technique to engage learners and create an immersive experience.


  •  There are various components and tools that can be utilized to make e-learning more game-like. These include achievements (rewarding specific actions), avatars (visual representations of characters), badges (visual indications of accomplishments), boss fights (challenging encounters), collections (gathering items or examples), combat (engaging in virtual battles), unlocking content (accessing new content through achievements or leveling up), gifting (sharing items with others), leaderboards (ranking players based on scores), levels and points (measuring progress and success), quests (defined tasks or objectives), social graph (connecting and interacting with friends), teams (collaborating with others), and virtual goods (items acquired through virtual currency or real money).


  •  Three core elements commonly used in gamification are points, badges, and leaderboards. Points indicate performance, provide feedback, display progress, and offer data for game designers. Badges represent achievements, signal importance, function as credentials, and support collections. Leaderboards foster competition by ranking players but should be used carefully to avoid demotivation.


  •  Designing a gamified e-learning course involves several steps. It begins with identifying the learning objectives and goals, followed by determining the target behaviors to motivate learners. Understanding the players, their preferences, and how gamification can cater to them is crucial. Developing the activity loop, consisting of engagement and progression loops, structures the gameplay experience. Fun should not be overlooked, as it is a key aspect of gamification. Finally, selecting the appropriate elements and tools to create an engaging and effective learning environment is essential.


  •  By incorporating gamification thoughtfully and considering the learners' experiences, designers can enhance engagement, motivation, and the overall effectiveness of e-learning courses.



Hello, and welcome to the elearning and instructional design for beginners podcast, where new and aspiring instructional designers start, grow and advance their careers and instructional design, and online learning development. I'm your host, Krystal Harper. I'm a former school teacher who transitioned to instructional design, all while working full time as a single mom. Would you like to become a successful instructional designer without the burden of earning another degree? Well, then let's get started.

Gamification is the use of game elements and game techniques and non game contexts. It is a vastly growing trend and is being adopted by very large universities and corporations. game elements include components such as points, levels, rewards, badges, avatars, leaderboards, or progression. Remember that the objectives need to be something other than succeeding in the game, the learner needs to have a purpose for participating other than simply to play the game, it's important to keep in mind that it is not always appropriate to use, but when used effectively can be an extremely powerful technique. Another reason why you should include gamification in your online course is because of the natural progressive arrangement that is often utilized. The main goal is to number one, get them playing, and number two, keep them playing, you need to create an experience that will genuinely engage them for an extended period of time. There are a variety of rules that you need to keep in mind when designing a game.

The player needs to feel as if they're on a journey, there should be a beginning, middle, and end that occurs progressively. Now I will talk about all the different components and tools that you can use in your elearning practices to be more game-like. These are things that help the structure of the actual game. This includes achievements, as opposed to just the general notion of a challenge, giving the players some reward attached to doing a specific set of things. That's an achievement. Avatars show the player some visual representation of their character. Badges give the learner visual representations of those achievements, boss fights, this is at the end of a level, the end of some part of the game, a really hard challenge, a high level monster that you have to defeat. And it's typically really hard to do. So in order to get to the next level, collections. Collections pull together a bunch of different things, assembling certain pieces, or certain examples of something, you have to get a whole bunch of spells together, or you have to get a whole bunch of badges together to fill up a cabinet that you can get in the game combat, you're probably familiar with combat content, unlocking content, unlocking means you need to do something maybe an achievement, maybe some leveling up, in order to get access to a certain new content in the game. gifting.

Giving things to other people can actually make people want to play the game more because it feels like fun. People like to feel good about giving others leaderboards. This is a list of players in order of their score. Levels and points should be fairly obvious. But we will talk more about this later. Quests are similar to achievements. This is more of the kind of game like notion that you have to do some things that somehow are specifically defined within the structure of the game social graph, seeing your friends who are also in the game and allowing you to interact with them to play with and against them, making the game an extension of your social networking experience. Teams, you're probably already familiar with virtual goods. These are things within the game that are virtual, they're not real, but the users are willing to pay either the virtual currency of the game or their time or even real money to get it. As you can see, there are a vast amount of game elements that you can include in your online course. Of course, it is not always appropriate to use them all. But this should show you some of the options that you have to play with in implementing gamification in elearning.

Out of all the elements previously discussed, there are three core elements that are almost always used in gamification. However, it should be important to remember that you should not only use these three elements, otherwise the game will eventually become boring to the learner. Points are our way of determining how well someone is doing in the game. So points can either show the relative position of players or they can actually define winning, winning might be the first person to achieve 1000 points, but they do other things as well. Points can connect up with reward. So you need say 5000 virtual points to get some reward or digitally created badge points also provide feedback. Seeing here that you've got 5000 points in this case is pretty good evidence that you're doing better than when you had 100 or this other player who has 100 points or a feedback mechanism. They show you in real time exactly how you're doing in the game. The points are also a way of displaying progress. So you remember I talked about the importance of the Progress dynamic of getting up to a higher point. The points give the learner feedback, but they also are a way of telling them they're moving along the staircase of where they are. The points also provide data so the game designer can see how many points the learner is earning, where they've earned them and how fast they've earned them and so forth. And that can be used to enhance the game badges are representations of achievement.

They're also some visual indication that you have reached a certain level or you've accomplished some set of objectives. The point is that they are something typically a button-like graphic that goes on a profile page or someplace that other players can see. And they show and represent the achievement of that player. Now, there are many great things about badges. One of the powerful things about badges is just how flexible they are. You can represent anything in a badge, maybe the learner gets a badge for the first time they do something, maybe they get a badge for doing something 100 times in a row, maybe they get a badge just at random, because the instructor wanted to give them a little surprise, the badge can represent whatever you want. And that's very powerful. They also signal importance, a badge designates what things are significant in the game, there are many kinds of things that might be achieved. But the badge says yes, this is something that this game will reward. And that tells the learner that it's significant. They also function as credentials.

The badge tells anyone who's looking, here's what I've done. Badges also can support collections. So if the learner has a bookcase, if you will, that can hold a variety of different badges, then that's often seen by players as an invitation to fill it up. leaderboards are about ranking, they tell the learner exactly where they stand relative to other people who are playing the game. The idea is that they will push people, the learner sees that someone's ahead of them and they will want to double down on their work, or they see that someone is just a little bit behind them, and they'll work harder. It's all about competition. However, it's important to be aware that sometimes leaderboards can be demotivating, there is potential that the learner will just give up or not try as hard if they fall too far behind on the leaderboard, you need to have a purpose for the game, the purpose should focus on the learning objectives that you're trying to achieve. And everything in the process has to tie into that purpose. The second aspect of design thinking is that it's human centered, it needs to be designed around people. Design thinking is about always pushing for the experience and trying to keep in mind what the experience actually looks like to people.

Finally, design thinking is iterative. In other words, it inherently expects that we are not going to get it right the first time, we have to bake in from the beginning the idea of trying, failing, learning, trying again, an iteration means doing the same thing multiple times, but improving over time through the process. There are six steps to design a game in an elearning course Step one is to find the learning objective. What does the student need to accomplish in this course? What are the course goals? Remember, design has to be purposeful. Second, what are the target behaviors? What is it that you want the learner to do? Gamification is about motivation. It's about encouraging people to do certain things. And therefore you need to start out with an understanding of just what those things are. Third, describe the players human centric, player centric.

That's the essence of design and gamification. So you need to have some understanding about who your learners are, what they like, and how gamification can respond to the different kinds of players that you have. Next is to devise your activity loop. There are two kinds of loops that move forward the action and gamification. These are called engagement loops, and progression loops. This is where you structure the core micro and macro level gameplay aspects fun. Number five, don't forget the fun. This comes back to the discussion that we had earlier about game thinking, and just how important fun is how difficult it is to define, but how we can look at certain kinds of characteristics that in different ways make things fun, paradoxically, that's easy to miss when you're doing gamification, because gamification is about coming up with structures and rules and processes and systems to achieve those objectives that I've talked about before. And very often people who are going down that road get so caught up that they lose sight of the fact that these systems should in some way be engaging, they should be fun, whether consciously or not for the players, because if not, they're missing out on a lot of what makes gamification potentially so powerful. And then finally, you need to use the right tools for the job, use the right elements, use the right structures and put them into place. 




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