Gamification in eLearning: Implementation Guide
With 6 years in developing eLearning software, ScienceSoft advises on, implements, and supports gamified eLearning solutions to make eLearning more impactful and engaging.
The development of an eLearning solution with gamification capabilities includes steps like conceptualization, business analysis, design, planning and development, testing, launch, and continues support. The project requires the roles of a project manager, a business analyst, a UI/UX designer, and a gamification expert (developer).
The stages of gamified eLearning solution implementation may differ depending on the project scope and specifics of the solution. Below are the most common stages:
Step 1. eLearning solution conceptualization
Define target KPIs: business KPIs (e.g., learner progress, started vs. completed challenges) and system effectiveness KPIs (e.g., learner adoption, engagement, satisfaction) of a to-be eLearning solution with gamification capabilities. Then, consider what general eLearning features (learning content creation and management, eLearning administration), and specific gamification elements (e.g., mini-games, storytelling, points, leaderboards, badges, rewards) can bring most value in your case.
Step 2. Business analysis and learner segmentation
The main activities at this stage include:
Analysis of eLearning needs. Analyze eLearning needs a to-be solution should meet, including learning content creation and management, learning administration, and more.
Analysis of gamification goals and context. Analyze key goals to be achieved with a gamified eLearning solution. Examine the existing learning processes, decide whether they should be redesigned before implementing a new solution. Define what learning processes (e.g., course delivery, knowledge assessment) can be effectively gamified and how. Decide whether you should use advanced technologies for gamification, for example, AI (e.g., chatbots) or XR (e.g., AR/VR/MR simulations). Also, make sure you have quality learning content that can be migrated to the new solution.
Target audience segmentation. To define an optimal feature set for a gamified eLearning solution, segment target learners. You can create personas (fictional characters that model actual learners) and categorize learners, for example, by using Bartle’s player types:
- Achievers (prefer gaining points, levels, and other awards that show their succeeding in a game).
- Explorers (prefer observing and examining a simulated environment in a game).
- Socializers (enjoy interacting with other players and AI during a game).
- Killers (gain the most enjoyment from competition with other players and AI).
For example, the recommended approach to Killers is encouraging peer-to-peer competition via leaderboards, while Achievers would most benefit from getting points, badges or other awards, e.g., for completing complex tasks.
Caution: The majority of people are Socializers, so you should make sure your gamification solution will include social elements like chats and virtual assistants.
Step 3. Gamified eLearning solution design
User journey creation to visualize learners’ experience. To make gamification bring more value, we suggest adhering to the following principles when designing gamification features:
- Freedom to fail (having multiple attempts to succeed).
- Prompt feedback (getting rewards after each completed task or level).
- Progression (practicing the material learned on recent levels on further levels).
- Flexibility (achieving goals by various paths).
UI prototyping to get initial mockups of eLearning features, including gamification elements.
Prototype evaluation based on user testing and feedback in order to finalize design of eLearning functionality, including gamification features.
Caution: Avoid overusing gamification elements when designing the eLearning solution. For example, granting badges for very little thing (e.g., read a chapter, answer a question) may devalue them, which can negatively affect learners’ motivation.
Step 4. Planning and development
Define an optimal feature set and elicit technical requirements for the eLearning solution with gamification capabilities. Decide which type of eLearning solution will better suit your learning needs (e.g., LMS, LXP, eLearning portal), what gamification features it should include, what integrations and customizations will be required. Then, decide upon the implementation approach:
- Development of custom gamification elements for your eLearning solution. We recommend this option if you have an eLearning solution that lacks gamification capabilities, or its capabilities are not enough to meet your unique gamification needs (e.g., you need a complex system of calculation of achievement points, AR mini-games, etc.).
- Building an eLearning solution with gamification elements from scratch. We recommend this option if you need both specific learning management capabilities (e.g., complex workflows, advanced reporting capabilities, personalized learning paths, integrations with numerous systems and tools, etc.) and unique gamification features (e.g., multi-level system of badges, audio and VR simulations).
- Integration of your eLearning solution with commercial gamification platforms. These platforms may not offer API integration out of the box, so development may be needed.
After deciding upon the approach, choose a suitable platform or tech stack and design an implementation plan for the eLearning solution, including time and budget estimation, target KPIs, and more.
Hint: Many ready-to-use eLearning platforms like Moodle and WordPress have specialized plugins that can be bought and installed without development efforts. Examples of such plugins include Badge Awarder and Level Up! for Moodle; LearnDash and Sensei for WordPress.
Hint: We recommend iterative development of the eLearning solution with gamification features, which helps reduce implementation time and costs as well as development risks.
Step 5. Testing and feedback
We recommend comprehensive testing of the gamified eLearning solution, including functional, performance, integration, localization, and compatibility testing. To ensure the smooth and complete functioning, robust data sharing, stability and scalability, full compliance with usability requirements, and compatibility of the eLearning solution with its target environment (devices and OSs, browsers, hardware and network conditions), the testing activities should go in parallel with the solution’s development.
Step 6. Solution launch and evaluation
Before launching the solution, we suggest conducting training for learners, course designers, instructors, and other users of eLearning software. Some time after the solution goes live, you should analyze learner behavior reports generated by the solution and track the relevance of the gamified content and elements to update or remove certain content or elements, if needed.
Step 7. Continuous support
ScienceSoft recommends continuous monitoring and optimization of the eLearning solution to ensure its stable operation and improve user adoption. Also, gamification elements may become outdated quite soon, so you may need to redesign or even replace them to keep learners engaged and motivated.
- Defining the scope, budget, timeframes, milestones and target KPIs of a project on gamification in online learning.
- Managing resources for the eLearning development project.
- Supervising the project stages and tracking project milestones.
- Investigating gamification needs, goals, learning context and target learners.
- Suggesting the most relevant learning management and gamification features based on learning needs.
- Mapping the features to technical requirements of an eLearning solution with gamification features.
- Designing eLearning solution with simple (e.g., badges) and complex (e.g., branching scenarios, immersive interactions) gamification elements.
- Creating storyboards that communicate how a gamified eLearning solution works.
- Building mockups and prototypes for a gamified eLearning solution or individual gamification features.
- Evaluating usability of gamification functionality implemented by a developer and suggesting improvements.
- Choosing a suitable platform or a tech stack based on technical requirements.
- Developing or customizing and deploying a gamified eLearning solution or developing individual gamification features.
- Integrating a gamified eLearning solution with eLearning software (e.g., LMS, LXP, learning portal) and other enterprise systems (e.g., ERP, CRM, HR).
- Full control over the project.
- Full understanding of specific learning management and gamification needs.
Caution: The need to hire or train experts in design and development of eLearning software with gamification features.
- High degree of control over the project.
- Highly qualified technical specialists available from a vendor. Sample team layout: a project manager, business analysts, and UI designers are in-house; developers and testers are outsourced.
Caution: In-house team members need a strong eLearning background.
- Access to professional expertise in gamified eLearning software.
- Advanced technologies, mature and cost-effective implementation methodologies (e.g., Agile), and eLearning design tools.
- Creative approach to gamification and full understanding of eLearning gamification trends.
Caution: High vendor risks.
Rating: 4.2/5 by Capterra
- OOTB support of achievement points and badges for completing a course, passing an exam, etc.
- Support of the eLearning content and gamification elements created using third-party tools like LCMS and other learning content authoring tools.
- Content embedding from external sources (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia).
Limited OOTB capabilities (e.g., lack of built-in tools to create interactive gamification content, no OOTB support of eLearning technical standards like SCORM, AICC, xAPI, and LTI), steep learning curve for non-technical users.
Mid-size orgs and enterprises in healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, retail, etc.
$12.50-$57 user/month (including Office apps).
Rating: 4.7/5 by Capterra
- Creation of quizzes in a few minutes.
- Importing questions from external sources.
- Adding YouTube videos into questions.
- Suitability for self-learning.
Limited space for questions, no open response option, too colorful and playful look and feel for adults, a rather complex system of tracking learners’ progress.
Educational institutions and businesses (corporate training).
Upon request to a vendor
Centrical (former GamEffective)
Rating: 4.4/5 by Capterra
- Real-time performance tracking.
- Highly customizable leaderboards.
- Seamless integration with eLearning software (e.g., Moodle, Cornerstone), collaboration platforms (e.g., SharePoint, Confluence), ERP (Oracle, SAP), CRM (Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce, Zendesk), enterprise software networks (e.g., Yammer, Salesforce Chatter), and more.
Steep learning curve.
Enterprises with a high frontline employee headcount in consumer goods and services, financial services, insurance, pharmaceuticals, telecoms.
Upon request to a vendor
eLearning gamification consulting
- Analyzing learning needs and learner types; learner segmentation.
- Evaluating applicability of gamification to meet your learning objectives.
- Selecting an optimal feature set including the most efficient gamification functionality.
- Helping choose between from-scratch development and platform-based eLearning solution implementation.
- Selecting optimal platforms or a tech stack.
- Evaluating applicability of immersive or other advanced technologies in your project.
- Creating an implementation plan of your eLearning project.
Outsourced eLearning gamification
- Eliciting technical requirements to an eLearning solution based on analysis of learning needs, context, objectives.
- Designing user journeys, mockups and wireframes for gamified eLearning (e.g., simulations, recognition systems).
- End-to-end implementation of a gamified solution or individual gamification elements.
- Integrating a gamified eLearning solution with enterprise systems like ERP, CRM and HRMS.
- QA of a gamified eLearning solution.
- User training on the gamified solution.
- Continuous support and evolution.
ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, TX, US. We advise on and implement eLearning solutions with rich gamification features that help increase learners’ engagement and motivation as well as improve knowledge retention.