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A Detailed Guide to Gamification in Education & Gamified Learning Apps

Why do you need to gamify your e-learning product and how to do it

There are almost 200.000 education applications in the App Store, which is a vivid illustration of their popularity. However, the games are even more numerous — 250,000 apps. Evidently, playing is more enticing than learning. But can we combine the two? Yes, and this strategy in edtech development is called gamification.

From this article, you will learn more about this concept as well as about the benefits of gamification for education. We’ve described some examples of popular gamified apps and compiled the list of must-have game-based features. If you want your e-learning platform to become almost as engaging as a video game — read on!

Gamification vs Game-Based Learning

Before plunging into the peculiarities of implementing gamification in edtech project, let’s make the concept clear. Gamified apps are definitely not the same as games, which are designed for enjoyment. But what about game-based learning? The differences are subtle yet important.

Game-based learning means using game elements to achieve a specific learning outcome. Achieving key objectives becomes fun. A risk-free setting is designed, allowing users to learn new concepts and practice skills. The game progress is directly linked to an understanding of the subject or mastering a new skill. Thus, the game becomes the training.

Gamification uses game mechanics (points, leaderboards, badges, etc.) in a non-game context to drive learning outcomes. The user is virtually rewarded for the completion of existing training modules. As a result, the non-gaming activity becomes interactive, engaging, and appealing. In other words, your e-learning product looks like a game, but it doesn’t become a game.

There are two major gamification strategies in education:

  • Gamify the content, which means changing content significantly, for instance, by integrating a story or mystery. Going through the content becomes more exciting than just reading texts or watching videos.

  • Gamify the structure without altering the content itself. This strategy includes creating quizzes and challenges, offering points and badges, etc.

On top of it, you can add some minor details (microinteractions: animated rollovers, toggles, ‘Easter eggs,’ etc.) to make your e-learning app ‘feel’ like a game. Note that your app may combine different gamification implementation strategies to make the most of this technique. In this article, we will focus on the second approach as a more technically challenging one.

Key benefits of gamification in edtech

This technique can significantly boost the effectiveness of your e-learning platform. Let’s look at the main benefits of gamification in education.

  • Improved engagement and motivation. Gamified apps and platforms are far less likely to seem boring. Game-based learning tends to produce the same effect as playing video games. Learners want to ‘play’ (study) more. As a result, they remain focused and consistent with the courses. The desire for competition, getting rewards, levels, and badges push users to consume more learning materials.

  • Better knowledge retention. The purpose of education is to make new knowledge ‘stick’ to users. Gamification is an excellent tool to achieve that result. This claim has strong scientific support. For instance, a group of Austrian scholars studied gamification in higher education. They tested gamified and non-gamified workshops on several hundreds of students for two years and found significant differences.

“We found that gamification exerts a positive impact on knowledge retention. [...] The steady increase in students’ learning performance resulting from constant refinement of the workshops demonstrates the usefulness of incorporating gamification principles into educational activities” — they concluded.

  • Enhanced cognitive development. Children and teenagers who are in the active stage of cognitive development would definitely benefit from brain training. However, such features will have a positive impact on users of any age.

  • Increased accessibility. People with special needs will find gamified learning easier. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders have better chances of studying effectively if they use a game-based platform. Thus, gamification opens a wide range of target audiences for your e-learning platform.

The examples of gamified e-learning apps

The above-mentioned benefits mean that a lot of software solutions use gamification for education. Here are some of the most vivid examples.

This well-known educational platform unites millions of students all around the world. Gamification is one of the things that contribute to its popularity. The subjects that you can learn are organized as a skill tree. Therefore, the learning path is clearly visible. Students are awarded badges, themed as space bodies, with funny names such as ‘Mad Scientist’. New levels and badges provide energy points for achievement ‘galaxy’, visualizing learning progress.


A popular language learning platform with around 40 million monthly active users has an internal currency — lingots. Learners get lingots for completing various activities. Duolingo also allows users to collaborate with friends, whom they can invite via Facebook. The best translation is determined by the number of votes. Various achievements such as attaining some skills, spending some amount of lingots or following a number of friends are marked by badges.


An online platform that teaches software development and coding also has a mobile app. It offers badges awarded for mastering certain skills (completing specific courses, for instance). The progress dashboard shows the completed lessons as well as future ones. Each completed exercise is rewarded with points.

Which game-based features does your educational app need?

You’ve already seen some of the popular game-based elements in the examples above. Let’s look at the list of essential features you need to keep in mind before starting eLearning gamification solutions development.

Points and levels

Scores and levels offer users instant feedback, which drives them forward. Either a lesson or a group of lessons in a course can be considered a level. It makes progress in studying look like the progress in a video game. Levels and points help users to set clear targets. Thus, the learners will use your e-learning app more regularly.


Leaderboards introduce an element of competition into your edtech tool. Usually, they contain information about the number of points users have already earned and their position relative to others. Leaderboards may also specify how many points learners need to reach the leaders and what may endanger their position.

Rewards and badges

Just stating several accumulated points or completed levels may seem a bit dull. Virtual badges and rewards introduce even more fun in marking the milestones of the learning progress. They can highlight completing some important part of the course or using the app for some days in a row. Think about providing students and educators with different types of badges.

Virtual currencies

Abstract points and badges mark the learning progress, but they usually have little other use. Virtual currency, on the other hand, can be exchanged for some real add-ons. For instance, the users can unlock extra learning materials, new quizzes, etc. You can also use personalization options (individual changes to the profile, avatars, and so on) as an incentive for users to try harder and earn more ‘money.’

Progress bars

Progress bars indicate clearly how well the user performs. Learners see their progress after completing a lesson or a course. To motivate the users to move forward, showcase the awards or badges waiting for them at the next stages. You can also use progress bars to provide information about possible learning paths and access to previous levels.

Performance charts

The users need to track their performance on a larger scale; performance graphs accomplish this by showing how their current achievements compare to their previous results. This feature allows learners to keep their individual records; however, erformance charts do not compare their performance to the performance of others, which is why they are different from leaderboards.

Social engagement

Provide learners with an easy way to share their achievements with others via social network sites. The public display of their progress will offer them gratification as well as strengthen their commitment to move further. Also, allow users to invite their followers on social media sites to join the app in a few clicks.

How can Menklab help in gamifying your e-learning platform?

Menklab has been developing custom software solutions since 2013. We’ve completed multiple projects, including the development of educational apps and platforms. We have developed a number of custom e-learning features, including:

  • Tracking kids activities on live video

  • Video with Face Recognition

  • Data analysis, report generation

  • Adding documents, pictures, videos, etc.

  • Smart Scheduling for teachers and students

  • Multimedia or content creation

Also, our team can add gamification logic to your eLearning platform. With our help, you will make your app more engaging for learners of any age. We can arm your software with such game-based elements as experience points, achievement levels, leaderboards, rewards, badges, and so on. After such modifications, your app will stand out among the competitors and become a more efficient learning tool.

Bring your e-learning software to a new level with Menklab

Gamification of online learning makes it closer to an enticing game rather than a boring routine. Game-based features, such as points, levels, badges, or progress bars, engage users and regularly motivate them to use your e-learning platform. Users retain new skills and information easier. Therefore, they are more likely to use your product again. On top of it, gamification in online education makes it accessible to a wider range of potential customers.

Menklab has the tools and experience necessary to upgrade your app with game-based elements. Our developers have implemented various complex features in e-learning solutions. Rest assured, your software product will be in reliable hands. Leave the technical nuances of gamification to us and focus on improving the content or other aspects of your product. Contact Menklab, and we will discuss your ideas together!

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