When it comes to gamifying your online course, it’s not all fun and games. I’ve been piloting several gamified courses and the frustration level can sometimes be overwhelming, despite having amazing results in terms of course completion and student engagement. Incorporating gaming elements into your design takes intense planning and creativity.
I’ve picked my top 5 tips for avoiding the burnout that accompanies this energy intensive type of online course development.
Beginner’s note: If you are just new to gamification, read my beginner’s guide called How to Start Gamifying Your Online Course.
Here are the 5 tips for avoiding burnout:
1. Keep it simple
If you’ve seen an online game like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft your bar for how fancy YOUR course should be is probably a little high. Unless you have a million dollar budget and 10 other people working for you, you need to think a little simpler. Building any online course is a lot of work, both technically and in terms of content/assessment. When you start adding the gamification piece your hours-on-project start to climb.
Your learning curve.
Gamification in online education is fairly new. It typically requires a more advanced understanding of your LMS (Moodle, etc) and what it can do. Even advanced course developers are typically still learning how to gamify as they actually do it. Each learning piece that you create now has the extra burden of triggering a gamified element like a badge or points. You can think of each object you create in the course really having a value of 3x in terms of time and technical difficulty. This is ESPECIALLY the case if you’re new to online course design and just learning your LMS.
Gamification is about shaping the behavior of your learner.
- Start with the Holy Trinity of gaming elements (points, badges, levels) and make them simple to offer your learner. Gaming behavior is driven by things like recognition and competence. Eventually, you can build your course to include narratives and more complex gamification ideas, but when you are first starting out gamifying can be as simple as awarding a badge, or using a progress bar throughout the course. It doesn’t have to be a production from Skywalker Ranch to be engaging to your learner.
- Think of gamified course development as a multi-stage process. Your first stage may only include adding badges to the course and watching how that plays out as learners run through the course. Stage two might be adding more sophisticated elements like levels, player avi’s and conditional events (reward messages, youtube videos, Easter eggs).
The goal is to create a solid course that gets the results you need. You can’t achieve this if you’re burned out, spending too much time on one project, or (worse) turned off gamifying courses because it seems like a waste of time. It’s not, just don’t bite off too much the first few courses you work with.