Image showing concepts of gamification like reward, challenge, achievement.Gamification in online courses can help keep the student motivated by providing instant feedback during the course. Gamification refers to applying game like features to a product or service. This can include points, achievements, leaderboards, levels and more. According to wikipedia, the formal definition is “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

Gamification as a tool for student engagement has become popular in both traditional education environments and with online courses for business. In an online course, automated achievements are a great way to give the student immediate feedback on their progress. Badge awards for the completion of lessons and quizzes can help motivate students to keep moving forward.

Gamification may or may not include actual game play. Some learning examples of gamification do include actual games played whether online or offline. Other gamification techniques focus on points, badges, unlocked levels, and rewards for accomplishing specific tasks or engaging in group activities.

Benefits of using Gamification in Online Courses

Small white check mark in green circle.Increased engagement

There are a few ways that gamification can increase engagement. In a self-paced course, it can provide added entertainment and a specific reason to achieve a specific task. Depending on the system, points and achievements can also be linked to group interaction activities further increasing student engagement with each other.

Small white check mark in green circle.


Instant feedback, particularly when the feedback shows success at a task, can motivate a learner to continue forward. In self-paced, online courses, there is no live interaction with the instructor and small wins marked by points and badges can keep the learner on track and moving forward.

Small white check mark in green circle.

Group competition

While in certain instances, creating competition within the group may not be appropriate, there are times when it can be highly affective. Team competitions for certain tasks or projects can create more student interaction as well as engagement across the course. Individual competitions may also be used with Leaderboards to track who is receiving the highest scores, completing the most tasks etc…

Individual competition is often popular in non-learning environments. This is particularly true tracking sales teams and online affiliate programs where prizes may be at stake.

Options for Gamification in Learning Management Systems

Thinkific and Teachable, the two fully-hosted, SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions that I currently cover do not have gamification features available at this time.

When building online courses using a WordPress LMS (Learning Management System), gamification can frequently be added using plugins such as BadgeOS and WP Achievements. In the case of the LifterLMS plugin, course achievements are built into the plugin.

Examples of Gamification in Online Courses

Popular gamification features in online courses include points for the completion of tasks and reaching specific grades on quizzes. Badges are frequently awarded for specific accomplishments like completing modules or homework. For certain course situations, you may want to include achievements for participation in forums, discussions, and other interactive lessons. If this is the case, make sure that your achievements plugin provides the functionality you need.

The following screen grabs show some popular options for achievements in WordPress online courses. Points are frequently gathered for logging in, completing modules, and passing quizzes. Many of the plugins allow the student to view what achievements are available for the course and learn what they have to accomplish to receive these. As I cover individual plugins in the future, we’ll explore all of the options available to support the learners and compare the functionality of the plugins.

Image showing screen grab points, badges and rankings.


The following article has more examples of Gamification in eLearning.

6 Killer Examples Of Gamification In eLearning

Using gamification in online courses can improve the user experience and lead to improved learning and retention. These gamification techniques and the plugins to create them can be used in a variety of ways.

Coming soon, we’ll take a look at some of the gamification options that can be used with the WordPress LMS plugins.