Making Gamification Real on Your LMS


Tablet running an educational game

Gamification is an effective way of increasing your students’ engagement during the course. This article will show you how to take advantage of gamification in your learning management system.

Before using gamification on your LMS you need to understand the following topics:

  • Pros And Cons
  • Gamification Ideas
    • Rewards
    • Badges
    • Leaderboards
    • Challenges
    • Levels (Level Up)
      • Avatars
  • How to Gamify Your LMS
    • Moodle
    • TalentLMS
    • Google Classroom
  • Mobile Apps With Gamification
    • DuoLingo
    • Yousician
    • SoloLearn
  • Measuring Engagement
    • Interactions
    • Completion Rates
    • Speed of Completion
    • Student Feedback
  • The Future Of Gamification

Let’s take a look at each topic to find out how you should gamify your learning management system.

Pros And Cons

Gamification of the learning management system is an effective way of turning boring lessons into interactive experiences. There are some pros and cons you should take into account when deciding to gamify your LMS.

Pro’s

  • Increases motivation 
  • Increases Competition
  • Rewards Achievement
  • Increased Engagement

When you implement gamification into your LMS students tend to engage more in the learning process because of the rewards. This translates into increased motivation as they are rewarded after completing one lesson or earning a specific achievement. 

If you are using a leaderboard in your learning management system then your students are more likely to compete against each other. They will work harder to earn points that bring them closer or to number 1 position.

It provides students with instant feedback on the work they are completing and this increases motivation to complete.Con’s

  • Excessive competition
  • Further demotivates struggling students
  • The novelty wears off

As mentioned before, leaderboards are a great way of increasing competition among your students. This can demotivate students that are low achievers.  It can also lead to excessive competition is not monitored.  And finally if you don’t mix things up with your gamification and provide real world rewards at some point the novelty can wear off.

Gamification Ideas

There are heaps of methods you can use to gamify the learning process. Depending on the subject you are teaching and the LMS you are using there are many plugins and tools you can use.

For example, if you are teaching a course about history then you can use appropriate badge titles to reward your students for completing certain chapters (Middle Ages, First World War, Second World War, etc.).

The most popular gamification ideas are:

  • Rewards
  • Badges
  • Leaderboards
  • Challenges
  • Levels (Level Up)
  • Avatars

Let’s find out which gamification method is the best for your online course. 

Rewards

Rewards can be successfully used as an element of gamified learning. Rewards come in a wide variety of examples such as:

  • Achievements
  • Collectibles
  • Bonuses
  • Power-Ups

After the completion of one certain process (taking a test, reading a chapter, submitting a project, etc.) your students will be automatically given a reward. This increases their motivation and enhances their engagement in the learning process. 

There are heaps of possible rewards you can use. Say you are teaching history online. Depending on the level of history you are teaching you might want to use certain achievement titles your students can collect. 

For example, after they complete the chapter related to the First World War the LMS should automatically unlock an achievement called The Treaty of Versailles. This will strengthen their knowledge and will make them curious about the following chapter (and associated achievement).

Badges

Badges are a great way of rewarding your students’ progress. You can use profile badges that are visible when someone accesses their profile page. Badges come in a variety of forms, colors, and concepts. All you need to do is to be creative. 

Depending on the course you are teaching, you can use different types of badges with distinct purposes. For example, you might want to consider creating a system that includes three types of badges:

  • Basic Badges – for easy/basic activities (reading a chapter, submitting a project, attending 5 live meetings, etc.)
  • Achievement Badges – for first-time events (reading the first chapter, completing the first module, earning the first 10 badges, first to complete a task in the class or fastest etc.)
  • Awards – for competitions or other complex activities (getting the highest score in a test, winning a competition, finishing half of the course, etc.)

Leaderboards

Leaderboards are the basis of competition. You can take advantage of an online leaderboard to make your students compete against each other. This will increase their engagement in the learning process and will make them want to complete the tasks better and faster. The main purpose of a leaderboard is to allow your students to compare themselves and their learning pace with others’. 

You can divide the leaderboards into 2 distinct types:

  • Location – performance compared to the students living in the same geographical area
  • Time – weekly/monthly leaderboard of all the students enrolled in the course

Make sure your students do not take the competition too far. This can harm their learning capabilities and make them focus more on their competitors rather than the course itself.

Challenges

If you want to make your students more engaged in the learning process you might want to add challenges for them. Depending on the topic you are teaching you can try out different challenges. 

Say you are teaching photo editing in Photoshop and your last lesson taught them how to use the image adjustments (brightness, contrast, color, etc.). You can provide them with a raw photo and challenge them to process it and make it ready for publishing on the Internet. They will do their best to make proper adjustments and will practice the concepts you have previously taught them. 

NOTE: Challenges can be part of the formal training or extra’s they can do which they would then receive a badge for.

Levels (Level Up)

Levels can be correlated with all the above-mentioned gamification ideas. This concept turns learning into an interactive experience. Certain rewards come with certain amounts of experience points. Make sure you set an appropriate number of required points for getting to the next level. 

For example, if you are teaching geography online you can use badges as a way of earning experience. When your students complete a lesson about a certain country, they will earn a predetermined amount of experience points. You can set specific numbers for the badges, such as:

  • 5 Experience Points for each topic (soil, climatic conditions, etc.)
  • 10 Experience Points for each country
  • 25 Bonus Experience Points for each continent

These points can be used to determine one’s progress compared to the other students enrolled in the course. 

NOTE: Levels can also relate to K-12 curriculum levels or vocational training levels as well.

Avatars

Avatars are a great way of increasing the engagement of your students. Allowing them to create a digital version of themselves is an amazing idea as it allows them to personalize their experience. Using avatars in gamified eLearning programs can greatly induce a high emotional attachment for the learner. 

You can use only faces, upper body, or even full-body avatars. Take into account that using a full-body avatar will require more customization options and therefore will take you more time to configure. 

When you are using avatars in gamified LMS you can correlate them with other gamification ideas that your students have to work for. 

Outfits

Outfits are the most important when it comes to customizing your avatar. You can reward your students with a complete outfit for their avatar after finishing one specific chapter. For example, if you are teaching your students about criminal laws and regulations then you can give them a judge suit after finishing all the lessons. 

This gamification idea allows you to use your imagination as much as you want. You can link your topic to the outfit of your students’ avatars. Another great option is to reward your students with points (currency). Then they can use it to buy outfits for their avatars. 

Items

Avatars can be customized using additional items. Usually, those items only have a visual effect but depending on the type of gamification you are using they can also have additional effects (e.g. increased stats). 

For example, if you are teaching your students about photography you can create items that are commonly used in this area and link them to certain actions. When your students complete the first chapter (Basic Concepts of Photography) you can reward them with an item representing a beginner camera. After they complete more advanced lessons you can give them an item that represents a professional camera. 

Stats

Avatars can benefit from different stats. These may have visual or practical effects, depending on the type of gamification you are using. There are heaps of stats you can add to the avatars. 

For example, regardless of the topic you are teaching you can use the following stats for yours students’ avatars:

  • Overall <Topic> Knowledge (increases every time the student completes an activity)
  • Concept Understanding (increases every time the student finishes a reading activity)
  • Practical Experience (increases every time the student submits an assignment)

The stats of the avatar can be successfully linked to the other gamification ideas. For example, earning a certain badge can result in increasing the Overall <Topic> Knowledge stats with 5 points. 

How to Gamify Your LMS

If you are using a learning management system you might want to integrate gamification in your online course. Let’s find out which are the available options when it comes to gamifying your LMS.

Moodle

http://moodle.org

Moodle is one of the most popular LMS available worldwide. It is an open-source tool, meaning that anyone can use it for free. This learning management system offers a plugin database that allows teachers to install plugins to fulfill the lack of certain functions.

If you want to integrate gamification into your Moodle-based course you might want to take a look at the Gamification plugins list

The most popular plugins you can use are:

Level Up!

The Level Up! Moodle plugin is one of the easiest ways of adding gamification to your course. Even if it is an open-source plugin it also has a paid membership plan. This subscription provides the teacher with access to an extended set of features.

FeatureLevel Up!Level Up! PLUS
Automatically attribution of pointsYesYes
Unlock content when a certain level is reachedYesYes
Customizable rewards, badges, levelsYesYes
Individual RewardsNoYes
LeaderboardsIndividualIndividual / Team

Game

This Moodle plugin turns quizzes, glossaries, and surveys into a variety of interactive games. The Game module is open-source and can be used without paying a dime. 

It includes plenty of games such as:

  • Hangman
  • Crossword
  • Cryptex
  • Millionaire
  • Snakes and Ladders
  • And more.

If you want to learn more about Game and the available activities I suggest taking a look at the plugin page:

LINK: Game (Moodle plugin)

Quizventure

Quizventure is an activity module that turns quizzes into engaging games. It automatically loads quiz questions you have previously added in the course and creates an interactive animation for your students.

Each question will be listed on a sky-like background and the possible answers will come down as spaceships. To select the correct answer your students will have to shoot a certain space ship.

TalentLMS

https://talentlms.com/

Compared to Moodle, TalentLMS features built-in gamification. The available gamification techniques are:

  • Points
  • Badges
  • Levels
  • Leaderboards
  • Rewards

Points allow teachers to attribute points for each unit activity students perform. For example, each login gives student X points while completing the first chapter gives student Y points. All the points are counted and kept on a personal balance. 

To prevent cheating, the system contains specific intervals you must wait before redeeming rewards for the same action. These intervals are:

  • 1 hour for Logins
  • 20 seconds for Unit Completion
  • 3 minutes for Discussion Comments
  • 30 seconds for Discussion Comment Upvotes

All the badges can be customized and modified in accordance with your course topic. This LMS enables teachers to set certain rules for earning badges. For example, you can set a specific number of points that must be reached before being able to earn a new badge.

Levels are directly linked to points and badges. Educators can even lock certain portions of the course. These lessons will unlock when students have reached a pre-set level.

Leaderboards are used to rank your students. This gamification idea will provide you and your students with an overall view of their performance. 

Leaderboards rank your students taking into account 5 different aspects:

  • Level
  • No. of points
  • Badges Earned
  • Courses Taken
  • Certifications Earned

To learn more about how to gamify your TalentLMS-based course I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: A guide to the TalentLMS gamification features

Google Classroom

https://classroom.google.com/

This is probably the most popular LMS in the world. This is because it was designed by Google and it provides its users with amazing features without any cost. It can be used by individual instructors and eligible institutions.

It does not feature any integrated gamification methods but can be successfully linked to applications that are able to gamify your students’ learning experience. 

The most popular gamification tools are:

ClassCraft

https://www.classcraft.com/

ClassCraft is an Engagement Management System (EMS) that is fully compatible with Google Classroom. It allows your students to earn points, experience, and levels while taking online courses. This tool enables educators to customize the entire gamification experience. It features a generous free membership plan that can be upgraded if you decide this is useful for your course.

BookWidget

https://www.bookwidgets.com/

BookWidget platform offers plenty of templates educators can take advantage of when creating interactive lessons for their online courses. It is fully compatible with Google Chrome and can be implemented in Google Classroom directly from the Chrome Plugin Store. All the templates are available for free. 

Quizizz

https://www.quizizz.com/

Quizizz tool allows educators to track their students’ progress in order to determine the problematic aspects of the training content. It also features a function that enables students to upload the homework directly into Google Classroom without having to upload it manually in Google Drive. 

To learn more about how to gamify your course hosted on Google Classroom I recommend taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: 10 Easy Ways to Gamify Google Classroom 

Mobile Apps With Gamification

Mobile apps can be gamified too. Given the increased number of smartphone users, you as a teacher might want to integrate mobile apps into your online course. There are heaps of gamified apps you can take advantage of. 

The most popular gamified mobile apps are:

  • DuoLingo
  • Yousician
  • SoloLearn

Let’s see what features each option contains and which one is suitable for your course.

DuoLingo

https://duolingo.com/

Duolingo is one of the most popular foreign language learning apps. It allows worldwide users to learn different languages by taking online lessons for free. The platform features a mobile version that is optimized for smartphones. 

It is currently available for:

Both mobile apps include gamification and allow users to track their progress. It uses daily goals and weekly streaks to indicate the player’s progress. By completing learning tasks users are rewarded with a digital currency (called Lingots). They can exchange this currency with power-ups and customized items for their avatars.

Yousician

https://yousician.com/

Yousician is an educational app designed for students that want to learn how to play a new instrument. It includes plenty of learning methods and tutorials for heaps of songs. It plays background music and then displays the song tutorial. The main advantage is that you get immediate feedback on your performance and tips on how to improve your skills.

This gamified mobile app is currently available for devices running:

  • Android (rated 4.1 & 317k reviews on Google Play)
  • iOS (rated 4.1 & 51k reviews on App Store)

When it comes to gamification this mobile app literally excels. Overall, it is structured just like a game. The first levels have an easier difficulty and allow you to understand the basics. As time goes by and you develop your basic skills, the songs you are required to play will get more and more complex. The app tracks your results and enables you to see your position in an international leaderboard.

SoloLearn

https://www.sololearn.com/

This educational app allows anyone to learn how to code. It acts like an online educator. What is more, it tracks the students’ progress. The gamification-related aspects include:

  • Experience Points
  • Levels
  • Badges
  • One-On-One Competitions
  • Leaderboards

It allows the students to challenge each other and take part in one-on-one competitions. The winner gains bonus experience points and advances to the next level faster. Just like the other two apps, SoloLearn is available for devices that run either Android or iOS. 

To download the app you can click on the links below:

Measuring Engagement

It is very important to measure your students’ engagement. Analysis and reports related to learners’ engagement reveal several important results. For example, the educator will be able to determine whether the teaching methods are suitable for the audience. You can also look at areas your students are having problems with your training content.

Detailed reports will allow you to fill in the gaps and switch to a more engaging approach. When it comes to measuring engagement you need to be aware of and quantify 4 key aspects. 

The most important things you need to analyze are:

  • Interactions
  • Completion Rates
  • Speed of Completion
  • Student Feedback

Let’s see why they are important and how you can measure your students’ engagement.

Interactions

Interactions between teachers and students are very important during the online learning process. Not only do they diminish the loneliness feeling that is the reason why many students drop out of online courses but also allow your students’ to figure out the unclear aspects by asking questions.

Do your students ask questions and constantly interact with you during the live classes? If not, you might want to use a gamification technique to increase their engagement. 

When it comes to measuring learners’ interactivity you might want to note down three or four of the most active and three or four of the least active students after each online lesson. You could buddy up the most active with the least active.  Or alternately reach out the to least active and see if they need help.

Completion Rates

Almost any learning management system allows you to track the completion rates of your training content. You should keep an eye on the completion rates of each of your students. And monitor those students that are taking longer than usual to complete to support them so they don’t drop out.

Do your students access the training content by themselves or do you have to constantly remind them to open the resources? Low completion rates might be a sign that your students are experiencing low engagement or just don’t understand the content. 

To increase their motivation you might want to integrate certain gamification techniques, such as:

  • Rewards for accessing the materials every day
  • Badges for each completed chapter / lesson 
  • Extra points for 3 of the most engaged students

Speed of Completion

It is very important to analyze how much time your students need to complete each chapter. This is inversely proportional to the amount of interest they are spending on the training content. If they are truly engaged then the speed of completion will be higher and will result in a shorter time. Otherwise, the speed will be very slow and it will take them an unusually large amount of time to complete the chapters. 

However, do not forget to take into account the training content difficulty. More complex lessons may require your students to spend a larger amount of time to complete, despite their high engagement. 

Student Feedback

Do your students constantly provide you with relevant feedback on the training content and resources? If the answer is no, then you might want to try out some gamification techniques. For example, you can take advantage of the rewards to encourage your students to spend more time on the feedback. 

Another great idea is rewarding them by the amount of effort they had put into thinking and writing the feedback. If they just send you a message says Everything is fine then they will not receive any extra points. On the other hand, if they actually spend some time thinking and pointing out the aspects they are unhappy about then reward them with a decent amount of bonus points. 

The Future Of Gamification

According to the latest trends, gamification will turn student motivation from extrinsic to intrinsic. While gamification is great you have to keep changing things so students don’t get over the novelty of it.  This happens especially when they are not actually enjoying the learning process but are taking part in it because of external factors (professional obligation, need certain certificate/diploma, etc.).

To learn more about the future of gamification I suggest taking a look at the following article:

ARTICLE: Gamification in 2020: Future of Immersive Technologies 

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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