27 October 2016

How to engage learners better through gamification


Gamification: What is it, and what makes it great? Well it’s as simple as it sounds, taking something ordinary and applying game-like mechanics to it. However, the results are not as frivolous as it sounds.

You can recognise gamification in many ordinary places, such as the travel review website TripAdvisor which gives users levels and badges based on how many reviews they do and how detailed they are.

What makes gamification a great thing is that it gives people a sense of achievement.

Seeing a nice and colourful badge that tells them they are an ‘elite member’ for giving reviews on restaurants makes people feel like they are getting rewarded for their efforts, which gives them more motivation to post more reviews. On a user-driven website like TripAdvisor, those feelings of reward and motivation are what keeps the website growing.

There are four popular ways gamification is implemented.

  • Points. Points allow trainees to have their learning represented as a number and with this normally comes leaderboards which promote competitive learning.
  • Badges. Badge-based gamification tend to be more of a visual representation to display that you have mastered a particular topic. This is also referred to as micro-credentialing. It could also be a fun way to relive one’s Boy Scout or Girl Scout days.
  • Levels/Rankings. Levels feature an increase in benefits for each level up, based on adding up learning and correct scores to get a total score for achieving each level and unlocking more rewards. ‘Achievement unlocked!’ becomes a positive anchor for celebrating new levels of learning accomplished.
  • Rewards. Rewards are popular with retailers, who are the masters of the gamification of shopping. Giving customers free rewards cards allows stores to track users’ shopping habits and allow shoppers to receive discounts or save points to use as store credit.

Gamification for eLearning has quickly become a go-to for educators as it helps trainees to become more engaged and active. Studies suggest that scores of skill-based knowledge assessments rise by 14%, information retention increases by 9%, and factual knowledge increases by 11% with gamification.

Here are three compelling reasons to engage trainees better through gamification.

#1 Points and Leaderboards to foster friendly competition

Award points to users after they complete a test or quiz (and also based on their performance) to incentivise users to work harder and learn more. When compared on a leaderboard with their colleagues, challenging tests and leaderboards provide an outlet for friendly competition, glory and bragging rights to reward learners who put in the effort to learn what’s suggested.

#2 Badges to provide learners with a sense of achievement and progress

Unlockable badges can be a fun way to provide a great sense of achievement when working towards a goal. Having these badges encourages users to go the extra step to learn and unlock a greater badge.

#3 Achievements as records of professional development

Even if trainees have acquired knowledge, it can be difficult to capture their learning in tangible ways. Gamification records makes it easier for employers to view employees’ learning profiles at a glance, for example, through displaying and sharing badges. Learners are rewarded with the satisfaction of accomplishment and recognition for their hard work.

The gamification of training benefits everyone


  • Gamification provides a systematic way to roll out upskilling initiatives to strengthen the knowledge base of your workforce.
  • It creates a structured method for organisations to get more out of their learning management system, to encourage ongoing improvement and productivity.
  • Leadership can gather detailed records of learning and competency profiles for improving performance management, resource planning, promotion and succession.


  • Employees are more likely to consume more training when it is enjoyable (especially if it is video-based), and incentivised with multiple levels of progress and rewards.
  • People develop more confidence and control over their learning goals, where they want to be, and what it takes to get there.
  • In so doing, they actively participate in an organisation’s learning culture to sharpen their competitive edge and gain professional development.

To add more value to customers, providers of eLearning platforms and learning management systems will do well to add more gamification features that make workplace learning more enjoyable and effective.

Everyone wins, so ‘game on’ for gamification!