Gamification To Enhance E-Learning Engagement : Fizzics Education


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Gamification To Enhance E-Learning Engagement

Gamification To Enhance E-Learning Engagement

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Play as You Learn:

Raising Engagement in E-Learning Through Gamification

That children learn through play isn’t exactly the world’s best-kept secret. Educators and parents have used forms of gamification to raise children’s engagement for millennia. With e-learning on the rise, it’s vital that this also happens online.

According to UNESCO, the almost global lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic kept 1.2 billion children out of the classroom. This led to a rapid increase in e-learning in countries around the world.

For students, educators, and parents who weren’t used to it, the virtual classroom posed challenges. Some educators scrambled to find ways to raise their students’ engagement in e-learning through gamification. As no doubt many of them found out, some elements, such as leaderboards, translate easily to a virtual platform, while others work in person, but fail dismally online.

With the COVID-19 pandemic nowhere near its end, and with other global health crises likely in the future, e-learning is here to stay. And it’s tempting to say that this makes gamification more important than ever before. When used effectively it has many benefits, and can help educators to:

  • Recreate some classroom activities on a virtual platform
  • Bring the spirit of in-person interactions into a virtual classroom
  • Enhance virtual classes while focusing on the curriculum
  • Keep students engaged for the duration of an online class

Let’s explore gamification in the classroom and its ability to raise engagement in e-learning.

A child sitting a desk with her hands up in celebration whilst looking at a computer. There is a large bookshelf behind her

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Elements Of Gamification

Gamification is the application of game concepts and designs to educational scenarios hoping to make them more enjoyable and engaging. This is not as simple as including a few rounds of 30 Seconds, Monopoly or Pictionary during lessons.

Instead, the educator uses mechanics associated with gaming to improve the outcome of the lesson or training session. Those mechanics may include competition boards, leaderboards, points systems, and rewards.

To be used effectively in e-learning (and in a traditional classroom), gamification should include or offer the following elements:

  • Increased engagement through stimulating students’ interest
  • Mastery of various skills
  • An immersive process that increases learning outcomes
  • A challenging environment
  • Students’ behaviour toward learning changes for the better
  • Social interaction and collaboration

The following techniques are a few ways to raise engagement in e-learning through gamification.

  1. Simulation Games

The love of computer simulation games began with Fortune Builder in 1984. It continues unabated with newer offerings such as Farmville and the Sims Mobile. They’re immersive and engaging, and they can provide inspiration for simulation games in the virtual classroom.

There’s no need to build a video game. Instead, come up with thoughtful scenarios in various environments, and let students navigate their way through them. Score them on various elements and give them their scores at the end. Allow students to re-do the scenario if they would like to try for a better result.

  1. Activities Inspired By Popular Games

Use the formats of popular game shows such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Jeopardy, as well as classic word puzzles, to create games and activities for e-learning sessions. They make great icebreakers, are a fun format for revising the first half of a module and are good ways to mark the end of a milestone in a course. Choose activities that are in keeping with the objectives of the course.

For example, use Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’s format for polls or charts that show the increasing amount of ‘virtual cash’ (points) students win by answering questions correctly. If using the Jeopardy format, award points to students who supply the correct question for the answers shown on the screen. Other possible activities include quizzes, crossword puzzles, and word searches.

  1. Create Stages And Set Missions

Stages and missions or quests are part of numerous simulation and other video games. This means students should have no trouble recognising those elements. Create a mission for every online class, giving each mission various stages.

Elaborate on the format by setting the missions within a virtual realm. Then, give students activities to complete before they can reach major milestones.

  1. Include Collaborative Elements

Improved interpersonal relationships and knowledge sharing are two reasons why using gamification to raise e-learning engagement should include collaboration and other social elements. Give creative assignments that include blogs, videos or vlogs, podcasts and other elements to students. If they have social media profiles, ask them to upload their content and award points for the highest number of likes, views or other post engagements.

  1. Give Feedback In Real-Time

In video games, players receive results or other feedback as soon as they complete their tasks. This enables them to assess their skills or understanding and inspires them to move ahead. Thus, it’s important to include this aspect of gamification in the virtual classroom.

Poll the class during the session to gauge their understanding of various points or topics. Then encourage them to ask questions for further feedback. Encourage students to give feedback to one another as well.

A man with a glove above a liquid nitrogen vapour cloud

  1. Recognise Achievements With Rewards

Incentives and rewards for achievements are other gamification ideas that can enhance engagement in e-learning. The rewards can be virtual, or, if the class is prepared to do some fundraising, real. If the rewards are real, they should retain something of an educational focus. Books, notepads, portable printers or even other educational games are just a few options. Students can compete to win specific prizes, or they can exchange points for prizes in the ‘points store’.

Use leaderboards to indicate top-performing students, award badges for completing specific tasks, modules, or courses and award a floating, Survivor-style Immunity trophy.

  1. Create Progress Bars

Progress bars are an excellent way to visualise students’ progress through the mission, course, or term. Do this simply by indicating the start and end dates, as well as various other milestones on the bar. Use a marker or colour to show how far students have come, and how much still has to be done.

If time and creativity allow, set several modules, a course, or a class within an adventure game, and use a map with various locations as a progress bar. The various other gamification elements all would tie in with the overall theme of the adventure, which could be a classic hunt for pirates’ treasure.

A boy sitting at a desk infron tof a tablet. His hands are touching the screen. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

When considering gamification to raise engagement in e-learning, it’s important not to patronise students, nor over-simplify the course. Instead, the goal is to support students and inspire them to engage virtually with the subject matter in meaningful ways.

Happy teaching,


Robin Underwood is editor at HP, where she delights the audience with freshening ink angles on topics like E-learning, IT and gaming

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