Challenges in building a gamified learning environment
Extra motivation or incentive for learning is never out of place, so no wonder that gamified learning environments gained popularity. Adding a gaming atmosphere to the learning world conducts a sense of fun rather than obligation. Yet, the primary purpose of such an environment has to remain at its core because it’s still a place to learn and not an actual game. How to upgrade gaming elements into learning material in a way that they each serve a purpose? The users differ among themselves, but this has to be engaging enough, intuitive and easy to use for all of them.
In this blog, we will talk about these and many other challenges web designers and web developers upfront in building gamified learning environments using just the recent experience of our colleagues working on a project of this kind.
The project MAXP – Max Move Experience
Partners from four European countries joined together on the MAXP project in order to teach students about entrepreneurship and help them to build diverse life skills. Youths will be able to learn something new about themselves, creativity and entrepreneurship.
The MAXP is a learning platform that walks them through various self-assessment tests, assignments, quizzes, video and text materials aiming to boost their skills and knowledge. Founded by Erasmus Plus program, this project has the goal to educate young people on how to be entrepreneurs, and the tool used in this process is exactly what we mentioned above, a gamified learning environment.
The project MAXP from the view of web designers and web developers
The role of web designers and web developers in this story is to build a user-friendly and high-performing environment considering the element of gamification and its own challenges.
Students can prefer distinct learning methods or not perceive the same gaming elements identically, which is why gamification can be especially challenging. It is not easy at all to find a perfect balance between so many various needs.
Let’s now explore our team’s work in this field and the challenges they have faced on the MAXP’s e-learning platform for entrepreneurship.
The solution must be fit for all
The process starts with a long and thorough consultation with the product owner. The primary idea for the app has to stay in the center of the realization process. The learning platform should be in total alignment with the goals and requirements a product owner set up but at the same time appealing and suitable for intended users. Designers have to come up with one solution that fits all expectations and that is why a profound understanding of both sides is an absolute necessity.
A path toward achieving gamified goals needs to be clear, plain and exciting for users
How a gamified learning environment works should be easily understandable and in accord with the user’s way of thinking. The steps they move through the application and the course itself must be laid out in a logical and motivating sequence. If students have a hard time figuring out where to click next or how the whole platform is structured, the idea behind gamification falls flat. Learning should be fun, not frustrating.
A gamified learning environment that is too complicated and unexciting, is one in which students will instantly lose interest. Gaming elements should interrelate in a compelling and fun way. Students need to feel involved and see themselves as part of the world that this gamified learning environment creates.
Gaming elements have to be sufficiently motivating for all users
When looking for the motivation of users to start learning, this is where the gaming elements enter the scene. People are driven by curiosity, a sense of winning and excitement. They have to feel that they have accomplished something after fulfilling all the requirements and that achievement has to be satisfying enough for different ages and personalities. Since the whole MAXP learning platform has a cosmos background, our team thought of leveling the course with one constellation as an excellent motivating factor.
Each planet represents one lesson, so going through learning material brings a sense of exploring a planet’s territory then finally the whole constellation, at the end of the course. Constellations have been a subject of interest for all ages since the beginning of time and in this project, therefore, a perfect compromise for different generations. Next to the existing point collection, medals and competition system, it evokes the curiosity and the competitive spirit one searches for in gamification.
The whole place must be visually appealing
All visual elements users see on the screen significantly affect whether they will stay in the app or exit very quickly. In the case of MAXP, as we said, learning takes place in space. Even though there is generally a lot of interest in the cosmos, it still can be very challenging to customize the design for everyone, especially because of the age range within the target group. Building a space environment that is entertaining enough to one and not too childish to others was one of the bigger challenges in this project.
MAXP is a learning platform that combines textual and video learning material, but the text is still a large and important part of the overall content. The fact is, when visitors enter the app, they first skim instead to read. No matter the gaming elements we add, a lot of text in one place will bore them in a second. Given that, the typography received a lot of our attention. We took care to structure the text appropriately and make it clear and aesthetically appealing. Illustrations, panels and comments are brought into the lessons with attention to make the learning journey more entertaining and interactive. Video material intertwines with textual content in order to engage students as much as possible.
The gamified learning environment has to be developed secure and highly efficient
After the work on design is over, it’s on the developers to create all functionalities, speed and a seamless workflow that is perfectly stable. High performance and speed of the app are essential user requirements and this is of course not different for the gamified learning environment. Next to this, we place high importance on the security of data that students leave on the MAXP platform. Each student creates their own account which goes through a verification process. After the verification is done, students get access to the learning material. Next to the app authentication, our team took many other necessary measures to protect students and address all potential data security issues.
The intention behind a gamified learning environment is to motivate people to learn and make study time fun. Exploring something new in an exciting and interactive way to drive people to continue learning which is a real benefit in the long run. It is important to have this in mind for all challenges that come along when building such an environment. User benefits must always come first, no matter how hard balancing all requirements might seem.
Author of the blog post: NOVELIC