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Making Elearning a Game: 7 Tools to Use Friendly Competition in Elearning

We’re happy to have a guest blog today from Christopher Pappas, founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry. Christopher holds an MBA and MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU. eLearning Blogger | EduTechpreneur | eLearning Analyst | Speaker | Social Media Addict

Friendly competition is nothing to fear, especially if you’re looking for ways to motivate your online learners. In this article, I’ll share 7 tools for using friendly competition to make your elearning course engaging, entertaining and collaborative.

How to Use Friendly Competition in Elearning

When we think about competition, we’re often focused on sports, debates, or businesses fighting for market share. Learners in a training course aren’t the first thing that springs to mind. But maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if they got into the competitive spirit with gamification.

Online learners bring home certificates, rewards and a wealth of knowledge. It’s the perfect set up to foster a little friendly rivalry. The question is: How do you ignite the flame of friendly competition so online learners can proudly reach their goals? Here are 7 tools that can fuel friendly competition in learning.

1. Elearning Badges

The secret to the success of elearning badges is status and personal fulfillment.

They may not be shiny medals or trophies, but elearning badges in gamification still have the power to motivate online learners. One of the most significant benefits of using badges in your elearning courses is they are so versatile. You can award elearning badges when an online learner completes a level, masters a skill or learns a new task. They are even great incentives in compliance online training courses. For example, employees have the chance to earn a badge when they complete their safety online training or improve their job performance.

The secret to the success of elearning badges is status and personal fulfillment. People want to add all the badges to their collection so that they can prove to themselves, and their peers, that they are successful.

2. Group Collaboration Elearning Projects

This may actually seem like a counterintuitive approach. However, putting people together in a group is one of the best ways to fuel competition. It also allows them to exchange feedback and benefit from the experience of their peers.

The key is to give them a purpose, such as solving a common problem or creating an online presentation. They must all work together to achieve a shared goal while resolving conflicts and respecting one another’s opinions. Human nature dictates that every person in the group will try to outdo the other.

3. Elearning Certificates

Online learners like to show off their achievements. Even if no one else will ever see their elearning certificates, earning them is still a notable achievement. What sets them apart from other elearning game reward, such as badges and points, is that they are tangible.

Online learners can print certificates and proudly display them, if they choose to do so. They can also show them to prospective employers and add them to their CV. In some instances, this can make the accomplishment more “real,” because online learners have the power to show them upon request. If you do opt for elearning certificates, be sure to include your company’s logo at the top and specify what the online learner has achieved. Signing it at the bottom can also enhance its credibility.

4. Serious Games

Serious games can feature a wide range of elearning characters, themes and topics. From virtual board games to epic fantasy adventures, elearning games are only limited by your imagination. There are three genres, in particular, that spark friendly competition:

  • Quests
    Online learners are able to embark on an adventure to improve task proficiency or build a skill. They tend to race against their peers in order to finish the elearning game first, and with the most points or achievements. Quest games can also feature battles between online learners. For example, a lightning question round at the end of the first stage.
  • Timed Levels
    Online learners are not only racing against the clock, they are also trying to reach the end before the rest of their peers. However, they must answer questions correctly along the way and successfully complete challenges. Thus, timed level elearning games offer a unique blend of pressure and patience.
  • Hidden Objects
    A variety of hidden objects are concealed throughout the elearning game. Online learners must either discover or unlock them, depending on the gamification activity. There are only a limited number of items, and some are rarer than others. Thus, online learners compete with each other to find the objects before anyone else does.

5. Point-Based System

Online learners have the opportunity to earn points for notable achievements, such as completing an elearning module or passing an online exam. They can trade in the points for rewards, like unlocking exclusive content. If you want to take it a step further, you can even provide tangible rewards, such as gift cards, prizes, etc. However, it’s important to include as many intrinsic motivators as possible. For example, a gift card may motivate them in the short run, but it isn’t tied to their long-term goals.

6. Leaderboards in Elearning

Leaderboards in elearning are the go-to game mechanic for fueling friendly competition. Online learners strive to reach the top of the leaderboard by passing elearning assessments, completing elearning activities and improving their overall performance. In essence, peers encourage their peers to do their best by modeling favorable behaviors.

7. Social Media for Elearning

Learners can gather online to share ideas, feedback and personal opinions.

Last, but not least, social media can be a powerful collaborative tool; particularly, social media groups that focus on a specific topic. Learners can gather online to share ideas, feedback and personal opinions. They also have the ability to engage in online discussions, which sparks their competitive nature.

Competition isn’t for everyone. In fact, certain introverted learners may be reluctant to participate in leaderboards and social learning activities, which is why it’s essential to stress the benefits and ease them into the collaborative process. Also, be sure to emphasize the importance of friendly competition to avoid an all-out elearning war.