As eLearning specialists, we always look for ways to make our courses fun and engaging. Many eLearning specialists find that by gamifying their courses they can achieve the desired outcome and increase content retention. In this article, we will look at some of the popular gamification techniques.
- Narrative – This is the key to successful gamification. Not only that narratives tell stories, but they also offer real life examples that help learners understand main concepts that games are trying to teach. The art of storytelling is the main challenge that instructional designers face here. Not only that they need to think of a plot relevant to what is being taught, but they also have to incorporate protagonists and antagonists to ensure proper flow of the game.
- Rules – Just like any other type of activity, games must have rules. Without rules, learners will not know what to do and what to expect. Instructional designers should make sure that all the instructions are clear and concise. Learners should not be wondering about their next steps. There are multiple ways to include rules in your game. For example, you may create an avatar who would provide step-by-step guidance and have him pop up on the screen as needed. You may also decide to have written instructions that learners can pull at any time to find out what to do next.
- Interactivity and Discovery – We all know that games are about actively doing something. To keep learners engaged, instructional designers should know how to incorporate discovery and exploration elements. One way to do that is to have learners hunt for a treasure, or ask them to put the steps of a linear process in order. Always be sure that your games stimulate mental and physical processes.
- Feedback, Levels, and Rewards – Just like with assessments, providing timely feedback is a crucial component of gamification. Your feedback does not necessarily have to be verbal or written. Instead, if the learners are doing well, allow them to proceed to the next level. You may also give rewards in a form of points or badges or simply show a progress bar.
- Time constraints and Competition – Most games use time constraints to pressure people to think quickly and develop a sense of competition. When creating a learning game, instructional designers should incorporate a timer, so that learners know that there is a time limit to complete the game.
While gamification is definitely an expensive and time-consuming task, if done correctly, it can pay off in the long run.
If you want to learn more about gamification in eLearning, or how to design instructionally sound eLearning courses, please check out the Instructional Design for eLearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book. This book is also available in Spanish.