Types of elearning gamification

Posted by Greten on 30 Dec 2019 under Tips

There are two ways you can gamify an elearning content, content gamification and structural gamification. You can also gamify non-elearning content, but elearning is easier to gamify because it's easier to keep track of scores, ranks, and other numerical data using elearning authoring tools and LMSs.

A previous entry provided a definition of gamification in elearning. Here, the coverage includes the different types of gamification and how to apply them.

Content gamification

An orc wielding a large cleaver explaining that the union of two sets is the set of all elements, and his explanation abruptly stops.Content gamification is the process in which you alter the content to make it compatible with the game elements. Elearning lessons that were gamified through content gamification usually have more game-like feel in them.

For example, design a fantasy roleplaying game that will help students learn set theory. Maybe, they will travel the land and talk to sages, kings, centaurs, orcs, and other non-player characters about the different concepts and operations of sets. Near the end of the game, the learner must open the gates of the magic tower by positioning the stones on the sacred altar. The stones have characteristics like colors and shapes, and these characteristics and what they learn about set theory are what the learner needs to know the proper arrangement.

This example is a gamification of learning because is borrows game elements like specific objectives (open the magic tower) and rules (arrange the stones properly) that to accomplish, the students must learn set theory from the characters.

A marble surface showing two Venn diagram circles. One is labeled as Round Stone and the other is Red Stone. The Round Stone contains orange, violet, and blue spherical marble-like stones, while the Red Stone contains a triangular, square, and hexagonal gem-like red stones. The overlap contains a red spherical stone.

In particular, this example is content gamification. The instructional designer or elearning developer must change the existing content to fit the context of the game. For example, if your lessons provide examples of a set like "a set of handheld consoles: Gameboy, Playstation Portable, Gamegear", "a set of modes of transportations that run on engine", or any modern technology, you cannot use them if you want to gamify your lesson as a fantasy game. It does not make sense for these items to exist in a fantasy setting. If you wish to use these items, you can change your game settings to that of urban fantasy.

Structural gamification

In structural gamification, a system with game elements is built around the content without altering the content.

Structural gamification of elearning is more common because it is easier to implement — the most common way of gamifying elearning by adding badges and leaderboards to the LMS.


These are not real physical badges, but icons displayed within the learner's profile in the LMS. Badges are awarded based on certain accomplishments that you or your LMS administrator defined, such as "among the top 80%" or completed all lessons in a given topic.

Badges that you can earn in structural gamificatiion. Orange, yellow, and green for being top of class, completed a course, or completed 20 hours training respectively.


The leaderboard is a common area in the LMS that all learners, facilitators, and administrators can view, usually the first page that appears after they logged in. It broadcast the accomplishments of learners to everyone such as "These learners are among the top 80%." with pictures and names of those who made it to the top 80% displayed below; these pictures and names are also links to the learners' profiles where others can see their badges. As its name implies, it is a board that displays the leaders or those who are leading.

You can include badges and leaderboards even in content gamification — for example, a leaderboard displaying the top five fastest learners to open the magic tower.

The gist of structural gamification is to encourage learning, competition, and fun without altering the existing learning module. Some examples of structural modification are the following.

  • Earn points for every exercise or knowledge check answered correctly, which the LMS will display on your profile. Since the knowledge check is not part of the assessment, it is the earning of points that will motivate the learners tp attempt to answer the knowledge check. The mere attempt to recall what the learners learned to answer the knowledge check will solidify what they learned in their long term memory via the testing effect.
  • A sufficiently large points will allow the learners to appear on the leaderboard; their accomplishments broadcasted for all their peers to see.
  • Earn badges from milestones such as watching two hours of video lessons.

The art in education is about motivating learners to learn. Gamification is just another tool or technique that instructional designers and elearning developers can use to entice the learners to study. Gamification may not be the best solution for all kinds of learners or all subjects, but if it might work or has been shown to work, do not be afraid to use it.


Last updated on 30 Dec 2019.

Share your thoughts

* Required. Your email will never be displayed in public.

Instructional design and educational technology for effective learning