What is Gamification?


Are you a course creator looking for a way to engage your students and improve their learning outcomes?

Have you ever wondered how to make your course material more enjoyable and engaging?

Maybe you feel like your clients have forgotten about your course altogether? 

Yes of course you have, we all do! As course creators, at some point in time we’ve been known to pour our heart and soul into sharing our knowledge with others, only to find students not bothering to engage past a certain point or sometimes not starting the course at all! It’s heartbreaking …But Gamification might be the solution you're looking for. 

Gamifi-what I hear you cry!! The word gamification isn’t even in the dictionary which, ironically, means it will get absolutely no points in a game of scrabble! 

The fact is the term ‘Gamification’ hasn’t really yet been made mainstream but we are hearing it more and more and as course creators we’re getting curious about how we can use it…it sounds like a fun thing, right! And whilst the word itself might not be something we use every day, games are an integral part of society and gamification is becoming a part of our everyday lives. Think store cards, points schemes for money off vouchers, Gold and Silver card levels in frequent flyer schemes, birthday treats and so much more!


Gamification is the use of game design elements, techniques and strategies in non-game settings to motivate and engage people to achieve their goals, increase user engagement and drive desired user behaviours. In the context of course creation, gamification can be used to enhance student motivation to progress through your course, increase engagement with you and other learners, and cement learning outcomes.  You can also use gamification to increase brand loyalty, get them to stick around for longer, share your content, make more purchases and recommend you to others.

One of the key reasons gamification works so well is because it taps into the human desire for achievement, recognition, and reward. It’s about focusing on what motivates people to achieve and then using techniques to inspire the desired behaviour. By incorporating game-like elements, such as points, badges, and leaderboards into your course material, you can encourage your students to participate more actively and achieve better results.

Real world examples of gamification are all around us. If you’ve collected enough points on a loyalty card to get a free coffee or been loyal to a particular airline and spent your air miles on a free flight you’ve already seen the benefits of gamification in action.

Research has shown that when used as part of a course, gamification can significantly improve learning outcomes. In a study by the University of Colorado Denver, students who were given a gamified learning experience showed higher levels of engagement, retention, and achievement than those who were given a traditional learning experience.

But gamification isn't just about achieving learning outcomes. It has become a popular tool for course creators wanting to build connection and foster social interaction among their students. It enhances student engagement and motivation as well as creating a sense of teamwork, collaboration, and community; ultimately forming stronger connections amongst peers.


It's important to note that gamification isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. As a course creator, you need to carefully consider your audience, their learning objectives, and your desired outcomes before incorporating gamification into your course material. You also need to ensure that the gamified elements you choose are relevant (that they don’t distract from the course material), are meaningful, are aligned with your course values and can be integrated seamlessly into your course material. Students should be able to easily understand how the gamified elements relate to their learning objectives and how they can participate in them. Incorporating gamification into your course material may seem daunting at first, but there are many tools and resources available to help you get started.

So, how can you use gamification in your course to promote connection amongst your online learners? Here are some ideas to think about:

    1. Virtual scavenger hunt:

      Who doesn't love a good scavenger hunt? Create a game that challenges students to find and collect specific items related to course material. Divide students into small teams and assign them different items to find. Encourage them to share their progress and interact with one another in a discussion forum or chat group. This is a great way to encourage teamwork and collaboration while also building connections among learners.
    2. Collaborative Quiz:

      Quizzes can be a fun way to test students' knowledge. Create a collaborative quiz where students work together in teams to answer questions related to course material so students can earn points for their team for each correct answer, and bonus points for helping other teams with their answers. This creates a sense of teamwork and encourages students to work together to achieve a common goal as well as cementing the knowledge from your course firmly in their minds.
    3. Build a virtual Escape Room:

      Who doesn't love a good puzzle? Escape rooms have become a really popular idea for getting a group of friends together to have some fun. Create a virtual escape room game so students work together in teams to solve puzzles related to course material. Just like in the real life escape rooms, each puzzle solved opens up the door to another room, until eventually the team ‘escape’. This has the added bonus of being as long or short as you need it to be. Want more of a challenge? Add more rooms!  This is a fun and interactive way to promote teamwork and collaboration while also reinforcing the learnings behind course material.
    4. Role-playing game:

      Role-playing games can be a great way to immerse students in course material and encourage engagement in a new and exciting way. Create a role-playing game where students must work together in teams to complete quests related to course material (a bit like the escape room but each person has a specific role to fulfil). Each quest requires different skills, so students must collaborate to find out where their individual strengths lie and rely on one another to succeed.
    5. A Points, Badges and Leaderboard system: 

      This is my personal favourite! Utilising a points, badge and leaderboard system can be as simple as thinking of all your learning outcomes, assigning them a value which you then award to participants in the form of badges, the more badges they get the higher they are on the leaderboard. You can mix and match the elements by missing out the badges altogether and just assign points to outcomes and as participants get more points they creep up the leaderboard. Or forget the leaderboard and assign badges as rewards for reaching certain levels or modules. There are so many ways to encourage connection and inspire a bit of competition with a PBL system and most tech platforms don’t need any added software to make it happen.

 A word of caution - Gamification isn’t just about creating a game! Slapping a game in the middle of your course probably won’t help you attract more users. You’re using gamification to enliven the thing you already have a firm offer for, making it more fun and engaging. 

With careful planning and execution, Gamification can be a powerful tool for course creators to enhance learning and build stronger connections with their students. However, it's important to carefully consider your audience, their learning objectives and your desired outcomes before incorporating gamification into your course material. Gamification allows you to drive, measure and reward high value behaviours by tapping into the human desire for achievement, recognition, and reward. Leveraging game mechanics encourages your students to participate actively for a more connected and engaged learning environment, and in the process converting customers into loyal fans. When done correctly, it’s amazingly effective.


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