See how MemberPress + the free GamiPress plugin make gamification super easy in WordPress.
If you have a membership site with online learning content, you may have noticed that too many users aren’t completing your courses. Even if you create engaging material, that may not be enough.
Without external factors like grades and deadlines, motivation can be a real struggle with self-paced online learning.
However, there’s some good news, too. Research shows that gamification can significantly increase motivation. Gamification is a technique for building fun, interactive elements that can help create external motivation.
In this article, we’ll go over four ways you can use the free GamiPress WordPress plugin to add gamification to your courses. Let’s get going!
What Gamification Is (And Why It Works)
Intrinsic motivation is when you take actions because you’re driven by non-physical rewards. For example, you may be intrinsically motivated to wake up 30 minutes early to go to the gym, because it makes you feel more energetic and productive.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is caused by external factors, such as waking up at 7 a.m. to make it to work on time and avoid being fired. Intrinsic motivation tends to come and go, but if there are extrinsic motivators involved, we’re likelier to complete a task.
For example, you may work harder at learning a new skill if you’re taking a class with a scheduled exam than if you’re studying at your own pace. In fact, research shows that we even get a small dopamine surge whenever we feel we’ve accomplished an activity.
Gamification is a way of creating a structured reward system that relies on extrinsic motivation, in order to keep up a steady dopamine stream. The name comes from the fact that this technique involves adding game-like elements to something that’s not normally fun.
Online courses, for instance, can use features such as badges, streak tracking, and points to add gamified elements to their content.
Effective gamification relies on a mix of white hat and black hat strategies. (Don’t confuse these terms with white hat and black hat SEO! There’s nothing unethical about black hat gamification.)
White hat (or positive) strategies inspire feelings related to meaning, accomplishment, empowerment, and social influence.
Black hat strategies motivate people by triggering more negative concepts, such as scarcity, avoidance, unpredictability, and greed.
For example, online learning sites like DuoLingo and Khan Academy track the number of days in a row that you’ve completed a specific task. This “streak” is a positive motivator, showing your accomplishments in a concrete form:
On the other hand, a black hat strategy might involve resetting your streak when you miss a day, or displaying a sad message of some kind.
The goal is to create a mix of positive and negative reinforcement, so that users are rewarded for the positive things they do, and are motivated to improve when they mess up.
5 Ways to Add Gamification to Your Online WordPress Courses
Throughout the next few sections, we’ll review four ways to include gamification in WordPress using MemberPress Courses. Then we’ll discuss how to get them rolling with the free GamiPress plugin. Let’s jump right in!
1. Progress Tracking
Progress tracking is built in to MemberPress Courses. It’s an excellent motivational tool that breaks an online course down into small chunks to spread out the user’s feelings of accomplishment.
Progress tracking presents visual cues that show users how far they’ve come, and can be very effective in helping people create small goals for themselves.
For example, imagine a nine hour online course presented in one big chunk. That’a long time! And someone taking that course might find their motivation to complete it waning partway through.
But if that same course is broken down into 15-minute lessons, and the user gets points for completing each lesson, they might be more compelled to complete the course.
By creating mini tasks, you can help users feel satisfied after each small chunk of activity, motivating them to keep moving forward:
You can create as many individual progress maps as you’d like, configure them to suit your needs, and decide which tasks to include as a part of each user’s progress. You can then place the maps anywhere on your site using a shortcode.
Study after study show that the lesson quiz is one of the most effective gamification techniques. And they’re incredibly simple to add to your lessons with MemberPress.
Quizzes are built in to MemberPress Courses, which is included with every MemberPress subscription. With this drag-and-drop feature you can…
- Make a quiz required to progress through a course
- Show correct answers once a quiz is complete
- Give automatic feedback for wrong answers
Pair your quizzes with GamiPress reward features, and you’ve got yourself a super powerful motivator for progress.
3. GamiPress Streak Tracker
As we mentioned before, a streak tracker delivers positive reinforcement for completing a specific task every day. Streak trackers reward users for consistency. Even if they’re feeling unmotivated, a learner may still log in to avoid losing their streak.
The online language learning course DuoLingo makes effective use of this strategy. It pairs streaks with optional daily emails, reminding the user that learning a language requires consistent practice.
You can add a streak tracker to your online WordPress courses using the GamiPress Daily Login Rewards add-on. This displays a calendar showing each user’s daily log-in record. You can configure as many calendar types as you want, and place them on your site a using a shortcode.
You can make streaks even more effective by setting up milestones rewarded through a badge system. Next up, let’s talk about what badges are and why they’re effective.
4. GamiPress Badges
Badges are another effective motivational tool that combines a feeling of achievement with the desire for ownership. For example, if your site displays a list of all possible badges, that can help users want to keep going until they’ve earned each one.
Online learning sites like Khan Academy use badges to reward a variety of activities:
You can even create different categories of badges. Some badges could be awarded for completing milestones in a specific course, others for hitting specific streak numbers, and still others for scoring well on a course quiz.
The GamiPress plugin enables you to set up a badge system with achievements. And it lets you create as many badges and categories as you’d like.
You can configure badges by choosing from a drop-down menu of activity types, such as “completing steps” or “log in to website,” and configuring the number of times the user must complete that task:
You can then place the [gamipress_achievements] shortcode on any WordPress page to display all the badges to your users.
5. GamiPress Points
Of course, we can’t wrap up a gamification post without mentioning point systems. You can award users points based on specific activities. So, for example, they may win a certain amount of points for watching a video or reading a lesson.
You can weave your points system into your badge system, by awarding badges based on the total number of points earned. Alternately, you can offer other types of rewards, such as coupons or freebies.
To create a points system in GamiPress just go to GamiPress > Points Types in your WordPress dashboard. Within each points type, choose Add new points award to define the activities that will award points. You can also use Add new points deduct to choose activities that will remove points:
Creating a give-and-take structure like this combines both white hat and black hat strategies. Users will be motivated to earn more points and will want to avoid having their existing points taken away.
Gamification is a smart way to make your course material more engaging and keep your visitors coming back to your site every day. Fortunately, it’s easy to add gamification to your online WordPress courses using plugins like GamiPress.
As we’ve discussed, five ways you can gamify your WordPress site include:
- Adding a progress bar
- Adding lesson quizzes
- Implementing a streak tracker
- Creating a badge system
- Rewarding users with points
Do you have any questions about how to gamify your online WordPress courses? Let us know in the comments section below!
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