What is Gamification in Online Learning

If you are an active e-learner, you have probably heard that gamification is a stable trend in the e-learning industry. Let’s find out more about this concept and how it is used to make online courses more engaging and effective.

What is Gamification in E-learning

Gamification is the practice that employs game techniques like points, levels, prizes, etc. to enhance motivation and commitment to activities and processes. The aim of gamification is to improve the user experience through dynamic and engaging activities that help to reach an increased interest of people involved.

In e-learning, gamification means applying game-like activities to online courses or training processes. It is used to increase the engagement of students and this way to help them complete more within a course. Now, gamification is even taken to the next level, including levels of difficulty, rankings, award points and more being simultaneously and automatically implemented.

How does Gamification work?

Gamified learning works by applying game-like activities, and below are the most common ones.

  • Rewards

This technique is based on giving a reward to participants for valuable actions they perform within the learning process. For example, the more videos you watch or assignments you complete, the more points you accumulate. It also can give participants the possibility of collecting badges or prizes. E.g., a student gets a badge after completion of each topic and at the end, she/he needs to collect a list of them in order to get a certificate.

  • Comparisons and rankings

This technique is based on building a ranking with the participants’ performances, in order to foster a competitive spirit. This means saving the scores of all students and comparing them to your score. For example, after completing an assignment, you get a message like “You’ve done this task better than 65% of students.”

  • Levels

This technique usually includes a differentiation by complexity. It is usually used for coding courses that start from easier topics and go to more complicated ones. This way, a student feels the gradation and his/her progress of being able to grasp more complex concepts.

  • Scenario

Each game has a scenario and a story behind it. This can be used to implement associative learning and by this, improve the results and engagement. Thus, an inline course can have a plot and a character that you use to complete each level.

Gamification course
Learn more about Gamification

If you want to dive deeper into what gamification is and how to implement it, take this free course by Coursera.

Benefits of Gamification in E-learning

The rise in the popularity of gamified learning means there are a lot of benefits to this technique.

  • It increases the motivation of the participants.

Gamification in e-learning works very similarly to a regular game when you feel highly involved and motivated to go till the end. A learner feels a challenge they need to deal with and a goal to reach. Moreover, gamification elements like awards give a sense of achievement. So, gamification makes the learning process much more exciting and less like formal education.

  • It helps to keep students’ attention for a longer time.

With all the destruction around, all the possible things to do, and so many courses to take, a person might lose their focus so easily. However, gamification helps to increase motivation and excitement which can be helpful to pass more topics within a course.

  • With levels and points, it allows for measuring the outcomes better.

A lot of people lose their motivation while learning online because they don’t feel their progress and the end goal is too vague. Gamification elements like levels and points can help with this issue by showing a clear measurement of how much is completed and how much is left. Moreover, it helps to visualize the results of learning more effectively.

  • It creates a more enjoyable learning experience.

All in all, gamified learning provide a better experience for learning and builds a positive association with the learning process, inspiring students to do more towards their learning goals.

Disadvantages of Gamification

However, there are still limitations of gamified learning, and here are the main ones:

  • Gamification can shift the focus from the learning itself to entertainment.

Gamification is a great tool to increase engagement, meanwhile, it can make the process more important than the knowledge itself. Some students might feel so motivated to collect more points that they skim through the content and don’t take much out of it.

  • When implemented improperly, it can be more disruptive than useful.

Some gamification elements might bring destruction rather than benefits. For instance, if there are too many interruptions of the content, a learner might find it hard to focus on the subject.

  • It is not appropriate for many areas.

Gamification can not be implemented in any online course just because it can be irrelevant or inappropriate. For some subjects and some audiences, it might be a bummer rather than a helper.

Examples of Gamification


The company offers online courses to learn STEP subjects and uses a lot of gamification techniques.

For instance, the company uses a kind of points to show your progress within a course. With each assignment, you get more points.

Moreover, there are levels of complexity employed. With each task, the complexity grows which means you need more time to think to answer correctly.

Another example of how Brilliant uses gamification is comparison. When answering a question of a quiz, you see stats of other users which is like the comparison of your results to the results of other users. When you go deeper into the course, this percentage decreases which also motivates you to proceed.


This company teaches kids to code using gamification and this is a clear example of gamified learning.

CodeMonkey uses a story with the monkey as a key character. Here, you use the main character to complete the course, and tutorials with assignments are incorporated into the plot. The platform also has points to collect and level which open when you complete the task and get the points.

So, gamification in e-learning is a helpful and commonly used way to increase engagement and improve user experience. It can take many forms like levels of difficulty, awards, a character, and more. This is almost a must-have element for a modern e-learning process; still, it needs to be used wisely not to become a distraction.

Stacey M.
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