If you have ever unwittingly downloaded a mobile game out of sheer boredom and then found that you have begun to spend a considerable amount of time (and often, money) on progressing within that game, then you already know the lure and addiction of gaming. However, most people shy away from terms like “gamer” or “gaming nerd,” completely unaware that their behavior while playing Among Us or Call of Duty is classic-gamer characteristics.   

In a pandemic-struck world where e-learning is the new normal and students no longer have physical schools to retain their attention, gamification is fast becoming a trend that has education providers jumping on board to ensure students stay interested and motivated in education.   

What is gamification?   

While the idea of dangling a reward in front of learners to encourage progress isn’t new, the term “gamification” wasn’t popular until 2010, and it took another year for it to become a viable trend. The term gamification has been defined in several ways, such as “the use of game design elements in non-game contexts,” “the phenomenon of creating gameful experiences,” or “the process of making activities more game-like.”  

Gamification in Edutech  

If there could be a singular significant predictor of academic achievement in students, it would be motivation. A student’s motivation level directly affects the amount of effort and time they are willing to stay engaged in learning. Gamification in Edutech targets precisely this.  

Gamification in EduTech essentially involves creating your learning content around principles of gaming design. It aims to pique human beings’ natural curiosity and competitiveness to drive improved and continuous user engagement – which translates to capturing a learner’s interest and then sustaining it to ensure they stay focused on completing the learning path. Gamification has been adopted to support learning in several different contexts and subjects. It also addresses learning-related behaviors such as participatory approaches, collaboration, self-guided study, completion of assignments, integration of exploratory approaches to learning, and strengthening student creativity and retention.  

Gamification in EduTech uses the same principles that make games addictive to keep learners hooked to their coursework. A combination of the proper increments, strategically placed rewards, and leaderboards are used to push all the right psychological buttons, ensuring that the students repeatedly return in search of that shot of the reward hormone dopamine.   

The psychology behind the success of gamification  

Dopamine – the “feel-good” hormone, is highly addictive. It’s what gives you that rush every time you complete a level in a particularly competitive game or when your parents rewarded you for good behavior as a child.  

Gamification utilizes this reward-wanting, dopamine-seeking behavior to turn the learning process into an active one, rather than the passive one it traditionally is. Learning becomes an activity where the student controls how and when information is delivered, rather than being passive responders to spoon-fed information. Once students understand that they and they alone are responsible for unlocking achievements and rewards, they begin to want to learn more, relying less on the fear of failure or disappointment and more on the promises of rewards (in this case, continued progress in the game.)   

It is imperative to understand how to harness this natural attraction to rewards for course creators to design their learning paths around it and make gamification work for education. Learner Motivation is the most complex variable to control in an e-learning scenario, so tactics to increase motivation are crucial to its success. The more goals students achieve, the more dopamine is released, and the higher their motivation to progress on their learning paths and attain more rewards.   

This dopamine-induced motivation keeps the student hooked onto progressing in their learning path – they want to complete what they started, and they want to retain the knowledge they are gaining.   

The need for human-focused design   

Brian Burke gained a great deal of knowledge on the Gamification world during his stint at Gartner. Inc and even wrote a book about it – Gamify: How gamification motivates people to do extraordinary things. In the book, Burke talks about three main elements of motivation that drive gamification’s success – Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.   

The ability to make one’s own choices, the positive feedback that urges learners to try harder, and the emotional engagement of being rewarded with things of intrinsic value – like social standing or ranking amongst their peers – makes gamification attractive and engaging to students across subjects and age groups.   

You Kai Chou, a leading expert on gamification principles, developed the “Octalysis Framework” – a human-centric gamification design framework that explains the eight core motivations for human beings. His principles highlight the need for design to be structured around the users’ feelings, motivations, and challenges – the things that make them human – to motivate them to complete tasks.  

How gamification acted as a game-changer for an Experion client   

Experion worked with a leading Edutech services provider in the Middle East to build the first e-learning platform in the Arab world. The platform included the utilization of gamification modules. The platform allowed students to learn their lessons while gaining points for each module covered. The tangible reward of a point system acted as a motivation for students to complete their modules. In addition, the application gave tokens for achievements like silver, gold, and platinum badges to the students for the level of excellence they completed their learning modules. The client noted that the students’ social recognition in their peer groups based on their badges inspired them to better their performance and earn more praise.  

We integrated APIs from Gamify, one of the most popular gamification marketing providers in our application. It influenced the learning behavior of the learner and helped the learning platform improve user engagement and retention.  

After the implementation of the gamification modules, the client witnessed substantial improvement in the engagement rate of students. Students showed a lot of interest in discussing their achievement badges in the e-learning platform & it was evident that it motivated them to keep going. A significant positive result was that students with lesser learning capabilities showed considerable improvement in understanding concepts while using the e-learning platform enriched with the gamification module.   

If you have an idea for utilizing gamification to enhance students’ learning experience worldwide, get in touch with us at sales@experionglobal.com.