How to Design eLearning Games that Drive Results?


While eLearning is an effective teaching method, lack of interaction is one of the biggest challenges that instructional designers face when developing online courses. This is where gamification comes into play. Gamification adds fun to eLearning modules while also helping learners absorb the material. Here are some tips that many eLearning professionals find useful when adding gaming elements to their courses.


  1.   Apply realism to your games

In the UK, the award-winning eLearning developer, Kineo, developed a realistic and fun game for teaching McDonalds’ trainees how to improve their customer service. The Till Training Game is set in a virtual restaurant. It has appealing stories and characters that stimulate emotional engagement. The “customers” behave as if they were real people. The trainees are being timed during exercises and are encouraged to continue practicing until they completely satisfy the customers.


  1. Story-driven games must have branching scenarios

Applying branching scenarios to eLearning modules is another technique that helps learners identify the content they need to focus on and concentrate just on information that is relevant to them. The best example for this concept is Elucidat. This interactive game takes learners on an exciting trip in the annals of history to solve various mysteries. As the players unlock each mystery, they will be transported to different scenes that are also comprised of different levels. After completing one level, learners earn bonus points and move on to the next scene. Another interesting game element from Elucidat is a dynamic map, which helps players pinpoint the current and previous stage they are in. There is also instant feedback after solving a mystery.


  1. Take advantage of the native features of a mobile device

Using the native features of a mobile device can help trainees improve their motor skills and reflexes. This is exactly what the Resuscitation Council and Unit9 did with the Lifesaver game. In this crisis simulator, players need to perform basic responses for cardiac arrest, choking and other emergency situations. This game can be played on both computers and mobile devices. For the tablet version, players need to “pump” their devices to check if their timing is correct for CPR. On desktop computers, you will use the keyboard keys to accomplish each task. With this method, trainees can easily monitor their progress and get a hands-on experience with the concepts they learn. There is also an option to share your scores on social media for a little bit of competitive gameplay.


  1. Accompany your module with a physical board game

Even though your eLearning module is digital, you can still use a physical board game to improve student engagement. This method is effective if you want students to interact with their peers. The Helneken Capability Academy created a dynamic game where students try to answer questions about various subjects. Students use an app for recording and sharing their scores on social media, but they also rely on the physical playing board and question cards to see their progress and determine their next task.


All in all, there are many ways to improve learners’ engagement. To create effective educational games however, instructional designers need to conduct thorough needs analysis and familiarize themselves with learners’ behavior, their reasons for taking the course, demographic makeup, the device used for taking the course, but, most importantly, instructional designers should carefully analyze learners’ current vs desired knowledge of the subject covered in the game.


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