Applying Gamification and Psychology Principles to Improve How We Learn6 minute read
Game and social media companies have invested heavily in designers, psychologists, and research in order to implement positive feedback loops that keep their users coming back and spending increasing amounts of time on their platforms. These companies have optimized their products to the point that their users become addicted.
Games want to reward you so that you are more likely to spend more time and money in the game. Social media does the same thing by optimizing design and product features to increase the amount of time you spend on the site, so that you can be shown more ads.
Why not apply these game mechanics and psychology principles to encourage productivity and learning, instead of only entertainment?
How Heights Platform Uses Game Mechanics to Help Learners Achieve Results
With Heights we’ve done exactly that by analyzing reward mechanisms that work well in games to drive continued engagement and retention, and built these ideas into our learning platform to motivate learners. There are the more obvious areas like the ability for a student to fill progress bars, gain points and earn badges, not only through completing lessons, but also by making posts and receiving votes on their projects. On top of that, there are many less immediately visible areas of Heights Platform designed purposely to facilitate learning, which we will describe in detail below.
Achieving something gives your brain a dopamine rush. Breaking down large difficult tasks into small achievable goals and rewarding the learner helps keep the learner motivated to continue. This consistent reward schedule is often something missing in our day to day work. You can probably think of some recent task you had to complete where you did not feel motivated to continue because either nothing would immediately come from the result of completing it, or because it was too large of a task to handle easily.
Heights Platform is designed so that the mentor doesn’t have to worry about taking things like psychology surrounding student motivation into account when designing their online course. We’ve implemented intentional constraints in our product to help you naturally build your course in a way that will be both understandable and exciting for your student to progress through, while still allowing you to be creative in the creation of your online course.
Gamification elements in learning help keep focus clear. The brain can only process so much at once. Creating constraints and a consistent set of actions for the student to take helps to maintain focus and clear the brain of distracting thoughts. A clear set of actions to perform is part of why we enjoy casual video games as a way to relax.
While course creators can view their student and course analytics to gain insight into their particular business, we also continuously analyze average student performance across our platform in order to optimize our product and keep your students better engaged with your online course.
Another thing that excites the brain is the ability for learners to discover and receive unknown rewards. In the same way that social media offers unexpected rewards in the form of notifications, when a student logs into Heights, there might be a notification or a new lesson waiting there for them.
Using MMORPGs as Inspiration to Improve Learning
There are other ideas we’ve implemented with inspiration from the gaming world, that are less visibly noticeable in Heights Platform. In MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role playing games), there is the concept of endgame content. Endgame content is content the player has to explore after they have completed the main story of the base game. Players who enjoy an MMORPG may play through the entire base game story content very quickly because they will spend hours every day playing. These types of games have a monthly subscription business model, and if all of their players stopped playing after the first month, the game company would be out of business. It takes a great deal of time and effort to come up with more content though, and companies won’t be able to create it as fast as their players will consume it, so how can players be kept around? This is exactly why careful designing of endgame content is important. It might take 60 hours for the player to finish the main, base content and story of a game, but the endgame content when engaging enough, could be played through almost indefinitely, or at least for thousands of hours.
In Heights, our Projects feature is our “endgame content”. We came up with this feature when we asked ourselves, “when your students complete your online course, how can we help to ensure that they actually go out and take action on what you taught them, how can we keep them around and interested so that they continue to grow, and how can we help them show newer students the way?”
Often when building an online course, you aim to have a community of students that can continue growing, rather than students who go through a few hours worth of your content, feel like they have nothing else to see, and end up either not taking action or with a feeling of, “that’s it?”.
One of the most exciting things for our brains is to collaborate with other people. It was extremely important to us to have a way for students to interact with and help each other grow. While we offer a discussion forum feature, this alone wouldn’t be enough. Our Project feature allows students to see and comment on each other's work. This feature not only gives students incentive to stick around after completing all of your course content, but it also provides them with the opportunity to learn from each other, adding more value to your course, with no additional work required from the course creator.
When creating your online course, you might have faced concern around keeping your students around, and worried that your course content alone might not be enough, You might have struggled with what the solution should be because you did not want to add fluff to your course, just to make it seem like there was more content (and you know that too much content, especially if it isn’t necessary, can result in a lower course completion rate). Our Project feature is just another example of how we’ve built our platform so that you can focus on your content and growing your business.
Creating a membership style website for your online course is one thing, but with software like Heights Platform, you can provide so much more to your students than a simple display of content. It simply doesn’t make sense to use a basic membership website when you can use Heights as the alternative and provide so much more value to your students and your online course business.
Improving how we learn is a problem worth solving. In our opinion, optimizing a marketing landing page so that it gets slightly more sales because of a change in copy or a minor tweak in button appearance is a problem that has already been solved, and if that is all your online course software can offer you, then we’d recommend you give Heights Platform a try. Our vision is one where not only can a course creator understand exactly how to help students that are underperforming, but that our system can automatically identify and assist these students as well.
If you are interested in learning more about gamification and how it can keep you motivated, take a look at this TED talk about 7 ways that video games engage the brain.
Do you have any other examples of companies using either game mechanics or this kind of optimization to maintain the attention of users for a positive impact in their lives? We’re doing it for education, but there is so much potential for it to be applied to other industries as well.Create Your Online Course Today