Gamification is one of the most popular trends in eLearning. Gamification increases learner engagement, makes eLearning fun and interactive, improves learner’s knowledge absorption and retention and enhances the learning experience for learners from all age groups. eLearning professionals, L&D (Learning and Development) professionals, as well as learners that have experience with gamified eLearning courses would have heard the term “gamification mechanics” a lot of times in passing. But what does this term mean and why is it important? In this article we’ll discuss the same.
Gamification mechanics, also called game mechanics or verbs of gamification are actually the elements that are used in an eLearning course to gamify it. These include the actions, control mechanisms and processes that are usually found in games, which help put the learner in the middle of the action as well as restrict them in certain ways in order to create a challenge. The term “mechanics” refers to how anything (in this case a game or gamified eLearning course) operates. Different publications list different number of gamification mechanics, but there are 7 key gamification mechanics which are recognized globally and used the most often. These include:
- Progress bars
- Learner Interaction
Let us discuss these gamification mechanics in detail:
Well, it wouldn’t be a game without a scoring system, would it? In case of gamified eLearning, learners should earn points by progressing through a course or by unlocking achievements. Points should also be tied to either a reward, badge or an achievement itself. Points are also often used to level up (by collecting a certain number of points), to appear on leaderboards or as currency in the game to buy badges, rewards and other in-game items.
Badges are usually awarded when the gamer/learner achieves something, and are thus, usually linked with achievements. Badges are usually displayed alongside a learner’s username, in leaderboards or any other places in the LMS (learning management system) where usernames are displayed. Badges boost learner ego, and let learners boast about them in front of colleagues.
Most games have levels. A ‘level up’ occurs usually when a gamer/learner gains a certain number of points, completes a task, unlocks an achievement or reaches a specific stage in the game or course. Leveling up also usually means that the course or game is about to get harder. It also means the introduction or unlocking of new opportunities, new skills, new learning material or new modules or courses.
- Progress Bars
Progress bars give the learner a visual indication of how much of the course they have completed, and how much of the course is still left. Progress bars should be visually appealing, and should move smoothly with animations after every progress.
Leaderboards are one of the most important gamification mechanics, as they propagate healthy competition. They are basically tables with the names of top 10 (or top 20) highest scorers in the game/course. Leaderboards are used to display learners with the most points, most badges, most progress, highest level. Top scorers gain the opportunity to boast in front of their colleagues, but could also gain a badge or an achievement.
Rewards could be anything from points, badges, levels, appearances on leaderboards, the advancement of a progress bar to even branded merchandise which are offered when the learner either accumulates a certain number of points, reaches a particular level, progresses to a certain stage in the course, or passes an assessment or evaluation.
- Learner Interactions
Interacting with other team members is something that has become a prominent feature in a number of games recently. Interacting with other players/learners can be a really powerful motivator, whether they are cooperating, competing, discussing new skills and new ideas, or just showing off their accomplishments. There should be a chat option in the game/course, and learners should also be encouraged to discuss courses on office’s social media groups or personal groups.
In order to integrate all of the above mentioned game mechanics in your eLearning course, you require a powerful LMS. That is something that should be kept in mind when going for gamified eLearning courses.
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