10 Effective Gamification Principles for Learner Engagement

Using gamification techniques to enhance learning is the latest education trend. Gamification principles make use of the game mechanics along with dynamics like rewards, feedbacks, leaderboards, etc to increase learner engagement. 

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Productive gamification is all about borrowing from the game design elements and using them to enhance the learning experience. Mindful use of gamification principles helps make the learning process enjoyable while creating a better user experience. 

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Essential game elements like creating a capturing narrative around which players are required to perform, eye-catching aesthetics and visuals, frequent feedbacks and strategically placed rewards help in creating engagement. 

Gamification principles are basically the same as those of game design. Game designers achieve successful engagement levels by fueling learner motivations and encouraging them to keep going to the next level. 

Valuable lessons from game designs form the backbone for defining key gamification principles. 

Following are the top ten gamification principles for influencing learner behavior and increasing meaningful engagement:

1. Good Narrative

Games need to have a capturing and creative storyline. It is essential to capture the user’s interest as well as create a desire to check out the next stage. Taping on to the player’s natural instincts to see what happens next is the essence of successful game design. 

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An engaging story that encourages the players to make choices and move the game ahead is the key. As game designers, create stories that move forward as the players learn and create a strong motivation within them to continue. 

2. Engaging challenges

The intent of gamification is to promote deep long term learning. A well-designed game should hence involve engaging challenges that work as learning tasks and just entertainment. 

A game should hence cover the key concepts of the training while being aligned with the standards. 

Any game that keeps running in the same format eventually ends up getting boring after a certain point. It is hence important for a game to progress slowly and build up learner skills by adding new and engaging challenges, one at a time.

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Conceptual learning is the objective when it comes to gamification based eLearning or gamification for corporate training. Introducing challenges that manage to capture the learner’s attention will ensure that they stay involved and keep looking forward to moving on to the next level. 

3. Well planned levels

Gaming levels need to be well-calibrated. The levels within a game should not be too difficult to demotivate the players or too easy to create boredom. 

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While learners should be captivated enough to look forward to the next levels, they should realize the extent of efforts that it takes to move through. Rewards at each level should also be carefully planned. While rewards increase player motivation, making it too convenient to grab one will eventually diminish the player’s interest in the game. 

4. Motivation enhancement (Rewards)

While designing a gamification based learning module, it is important to assume that the players aren’t really motivated, to begin with. The gaming elements need to provide multiple incentives to boost player motivation. 

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As players progress through multiple levels within the game, it is important to reward them for each completed task. Rewards create a willingness in the players to look forward to the next challenge. 

Gamification helps learners gain confidence by experiencing winning and making them hungry for tools that help them win more. 

Rewards could be as simple as a point-based system or badges and certificates. Rewards should eventually be able to build a sense of urgency in the learners. 

5. Resilience building

A well-designed game should be able to encourage the players through failures by means of instructional feedbacks. It should be engaging enough to create a willingness amongst players to keep trying, thereby boosting resilience and persistence. 

While getting through the gaming levels and learning the study modules tied to the game is one objective, the larger idea here is to prepare the learners for real-world challenges. 

Various game designers offer rewards and badges for the resilience and persistence shown by players, even in the events of failures. 

6. Confidence boosting

Rewards and Feedbacks are two commonly used gamification techniques. Games help the learners see their growth and track their own progress. This, in turn, helps build confidence. 

Progressing to different gaming levels helps the learners see how far they’ve come and what they’ve achieved. Additionally, getting recognized amongst competitors is what gives that extra boost to their confidence levels. 

7. Instructional feedbacks

As Elizabeth Corcoran, founder, Lucere, notes that gamification does not always rely on internal motivation. It works by providing feedbacks while rewarding each tiny step of progress. 

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It is a natural learner’s instinct to want to know how you’re performing. Instructional feedbacks in the form of visual indicators may help them realize how their efforts are taking them closer to the goal.

Players should be able to view their progress, realize the need to put in more effort and feel motivated to continue. 

8. Accessibility

It is important to ensure that all players have equal access to tools and information. Additionally, they should be given regular opportunities to build skills and progress. 

One of the important gamification principles is to provide a good learning environment. Giving equal accessibility to all players is the key. 

9. Aesthetics

One of the key objectives of gamification is to increase learner engagement. With that in mind, creating engaging and interesting looks for a game becomes one of the main gamification principles. 

All game designers agree that the looks of a game have a significant impact on the player’s interest and learning. A great visual design creates a strong first impression. And this is what captures the interest of the potential players in the first place!

Irrespective of the device on which the game is intended to be played, paying attention to the aesthetic components of the game is essential to drive learner engagement. 

10. Targetted long term learning

Gamification techniques when applied to corporate training or eLearning courses have been proven to help the learners acquire long term skills while helping in information retention. 

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The idea is to not just memorize the immediate lessons offered within the game but to take back the learnings to real-life or work scenarios. Gamification levels should be able to enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills to create deeper and meaningful learning levels 

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