Several e-learning sites are moving away from their traditional route, and introducing Gamification, to keep students motivated. Do you know why? Instead of the usual way of teaching courses which involve lessons and tests, gamification introduces objectives, tasks, and activities. These might just seem like buzz words to you, but studies have shown that students fare much better in game based learning than they do using conventional learning methods. The courses are more interactive, and graphic based, as compared to offering just simple text.
With WordPress it has become fairly simple to build an e-learning site. But to build a gamification based learning site on WordPress? Now that’s a challenge.
How do Gamification Based e-Learning Sites Work
To get a fair idea, of how these sites work, let’s take an example of Duolingo (other examples would be Ribbon Hero, The World Peace Game, etc). Duolingo is a language learning application, which is also used to translate the web.
- A student signs up, to learn a particular language.
- The student is presented with courses, and lessons to be completed for each course.
- The courses are divided based on categories like Basic, Food, Travel, etc.
- Every lesson completed adds skill points to the student’s language learning profile. Add the end of every lesson there is a quiz.
- The student has a set of lives during each quiz. Every mistake counts towards the loss of a life. If all lives are lost, the quiz has to be reattempted. A quiz completed without the loss of any lives can get you the maximum skill points.
- The quiz contains a variety of questions. Some are time based challenges, translating a written sentence, translating speech, guessing a word, etc.
- You can track the progress of friends who are also learning languages using Duolingo.
Building Gamified Learning Sites on WordPress
WordPress provides several plugins which can aid the building of individual aspects of such sites. If we were to break down our requirement into realizable modules, we would have to provide:
- Registration and Membership Module
- Learning Management System
- Adds Lessons and Courses
- Assigns Tasks (Quizzes) and Activities (Challenges)
- Rewards Points and Badges
- Tracks Student Progress (Graphs, Progress Bars)
- Membership Groups and Discussion Forums
- Emails and Notifications Module
Registration and Membership Module
If you notice, several e-learning websites, have a login or registration module right on the homepage. This is because registration ensures better tracking of student progress, enable us to provide tailored learning and testing material, and also ensure student loyalty.
The reason why we specify providing a separate membership module, is to divide students into groups based on their progress. For example, you could divide students into ‘beginner’, ‘amateur’, ‘advanced’, and ‘expert’ groups. Or, the groups could be based on courses you offer. For example, if you had a language learning site, you could have ‘French Students’, ‘Spanish Students’, ‘German Students’, etc. Depending on your business model, you could provide a paid or free membership.
Using a Membership Plugin
- There are several WordPress Membership plugins available which you can use. For example the Restrict Content Pro plugin, or Memberships plugin. Either of these plugins could be used to set up free and paid membership levels, for your content.
- If you’re thinking of providing only paid memberships, Paid Memberships Pro is a really good plugin to use. Despite the name, it is a freely available plugin.
Learning Management System
As you must have guessed, the core of such systems is the Learning Management Module. The learning module is where the courses and the lessons will be set up. Ideally all features mentioned, (such as options to create quizzes, or tests, adding activities, rewarding points, and tracking a student’s progress) should be managed by this module. Out of the several WordPress plugins available (which can be used) to create such a system, we would recommend LearnDash.
Lessons and Courses
Since e-learning courses are linear in nature, the structure (not the content) of the courses and lessons would probably be the same. As far as the contents of the actual lesson are concerned, they can be presented in a more catchy and innovative manner.
LearnDash allows you to create lesson prerequisites, to decide an order in which lessons should be completed. Additionally, you can also set a minimum time duration for lessons to be completed. A student cannot mark a lesson as complete before the assigned time.
Quizzes and Challenges
Instead of the traditional approach of grading, quizzes and challenges can be introduced. These can be made available, after a specified time duration spent in each course or after a lesson completion. Instead of grades, experience points or skill points can be awarded to students on lesson completion as well as on quiz and challenge completion.
For example, a quiz could be similar to a usual test. A challenge would be to complete 8 lessons, or 4 quizzes, or something similar. LearnDash allows you to create different kinds of quizzes, and to award points on quiz completion.
Rewards Points and Badges
For every lesson, quiz or challenge completed, the student should get points. Points are a great way to keep students motivated. In fact, when a student gains a number of points, we can even level up the student’s group. We can award badges to students, when they complete a challenge.
Badges can be awarded to students using BadgeOS plugin, which integrates with LearnDash and uses Credly to award badges.
Track Student’s Progress
A visual indication of the student’s progress needs to be shown along with the student’s profile. If the student is part of a group, a comparative graph can be shown, indicating the student’s progress, relative to the group.
The LearnDash plugin automatically tracks students’ progress, and creates a progress bar, for each student. We can provide a customization to display a comparison graph.
Membership Groups and Discussion Forums
Creating a society among students, helps the learning process. As mentioned, the membership plugin you choose should allow you to create groups. Students should be allowed to interact with members of the group, view their profiles and progress, discuss common problems, add tips, etc. This can help improve and fasten the learning process.
To create discussion forums, we can use a forum plugin, such as bbPress. The access to the forums will be restricted by the group the student belongs to.
Emails and Notifications Module
Usually all learning management systems provide an option to configure and send emails and notifications to students. This is to help keep students motivated, or to communicate features, additions, offers, and so on.
Gamification introduces a level of extrinsic motivation, when it comes to learning. The course material and tests are more application based, than information based. With plugins such as LearnDash, Paid Membership Pro, BadgeOs, we can create a full featured e-learning website on WordPress. Remember, creating a Gamification based Learning Management System does not mean adding games to lessons. It rather involves providing an interactive and engaging experience to a student, when learning.
You may also like to Read: Creating Paid Online Courses in WordPress using WooCommerce and Sensei