When Is Gamification the Right Solution for My Online Course?
I frequently run into business owners interested in adding gamification features to their learning platforms. They want to enhance their online course experience for their students. This is a good thing for do in your course...at the right time. In this article, I'm going to share some advice, but I do want to warn you. Gamification should not be a focus for any online course builder early on.
A big reason to be using gamification is to reduce churn. You want to keep people from learning your program. You can use it to keep your learners engaged and motivated to keep moving through your course.
What needs to happen before you even begin to think about gamification is you have to have a good number of people into your course. You have to confirm the offer you make to people to enter your course is compelling. It attracts customers that are willing to pay for it.
Too many business owners I speak with starting thinking gamification when they don't have enough learners to know how best to put gamification to work to address issues that come up.
The Easy and Difficult Parts of Gamification
I tell anyone wanting gamification that implementing gamification is pretty straightforward. Our team's preferred online course building platform is Wordpress. We use LearnDash, BuddyBoss and, often times, Keap/Infusionsoft and Memberium too. In this environment Gamipress, is an obvious choice. Setting it up is pretty easy. Other platforms are available out there offering the needed features as well. Regardless of the platform, the technical implementation is not the difficult part.
What can be difficult is defining a gamification strategy that rewards the right behavior. You have motivate your learners to keep moving through your course. You can use the features I'll describe next to keep your learners aimed at the right goals. This typically takes some trial and error experimentation to get it right and to continually improve upon it. Once that is done, the implementation is the easy part.
Let's go over these features.
How Gamification Works?
Typical gamification features enable you the owner of the online course site to reward learners to taking action. One way to do that is to assign points to different tasks. For example, you might assign learners points for logging into the system every week. You might deduct points if they haven't logged in for some time.
You can aware points for getting through 2 or 3 out of 10 lessons in your course. You might give them a bonus set of points for completing the cour,se. Online courses with community features can award points for commenting in the course or in a forum associated with our course or answer questions. These points then lead to other things.
You can award badges. People on your site can be assigned titles like Newbie, Experienced, Master. In a community site, people with a Master badge next to their name can attract the attention of others or get asked for advice.
You can create a leaderboard that displays all your learners on a grid, maybe featuring their badges, showing who's working hard at any given time. If your site is internal and competitive, like say a sales team, you can use the leaderboard to motivate members to complete assigned course materials and then have bragging rights for making it to the top of the list.
Issues You Must Address
As interesting as this all sounds, you have to make sure not to make your gamification demotivating. This can happen when someone in your program is unbeatable. They always show at the top of the leaderboard and others drop out of the running just because they don't think they can beat the other guy. One way to address that is to reset everyone's point count every month or quarter. That levels out the playing field so new members with less experience get a chance to star even with the more experienced members and feel they have a chance to make it to the top.
A while back, I was interested in learning how to do paid advertising. I found a course offered by Digital Marketer that would get you a badge you could post on your website. You were considered certified by Digital Marketer as being experience in that one field. I started the course which I really enjoyed. As you made it through the course, you would get these mini-badges for reaching certain points in their program. When I was at lesson 9 of 12 (or somewhere in there), I really had learned as much as I thought I wanted to learn. However, I hadn't achieved this badge that I could post on my site.
You know that stupid little badge was the carrot I needed to keep me going. It probably took me another hour to finish up the remaining lessons and I did it only because the site had the gamification features in place to get me to get it done.
Once you do have your online course running, making use of gamification may be the right thing to do next. Try to avoid focusing on it too early. It may be a distraction that keeps you from focusing on the right thing when you start.
Hope this helps!