Ever thought about gamifying your adult-level Moodle course, but got cold feet?

One complaint I often hear about gamification is that it doesn’t work for adult learners. The research does not back this up, however, and instead the OPPOSITE is actually true … adult learners WANT more gamified courses.

Check out these stats from educationinfographics.com:

Gamification in eLearning Facts Infographic

As you can see … it isn’t just teens who want to earn points, get to the “next level” and play in simulated environments.

So, what are some strategies for gamifying an adult-level Moodle course?


1. Choose a safe, universal theme

I don’t usually recommend “generic” but in this case, err on the side of caution. No cute little pacman ghosts or alien zombie apocalypse for your college course … instead how about one of these:


  • Patriotic … the flag of your country, emblems, icons, etc. They should still be hip … don’t settle for cheap clip art! If I was doing a Canadian theme I might choose these as a possible course logo and sidebar:

(images from pixabay.com)


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  • Sports … always a good Adult-theme choice. Most people usually have a favourite hockey team, or at least cheer for their home team even if they aren’t that interested in sports. You could have learners join a “team” … then find the 10 hidden pucks scattered around the course to “score” and win the Cup.


  • Travel … send learners around the world collecting artifacts. Each unit or assignment triggers a badge indicating another country visited or achievement earned. Or, scatter passport stamps around the course, and have students copy and paste them into a Word or Google Doc whenever they spot one.

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( free passport images from pixabay.com)



2. Keep the objective simple


While the research shows that adult learners want more gamified elements, they don’t want complex storytelling or difficult to follow instructions. Keep it simple. Here are some straight forward ideas for gamifying that are easy to achieve and to create:

  • Award Badges – When students finish a unit they can earn a “Great Canadian” badge or a “Level Two” maple leaf
  • Treasure hunts – Scatter items (pictures of them) and have learners collect them either by copy and paste, or by having them trigger a badge
  • Easter Egg Hunt – Similiar to above but the images are all the same and can link to content. The eggs (or hockey pucks .. or ..) could be linked to Youtube videos, songs, live webcams around the world … anything novel or interesting.


3. Keep it real



The one thing that ALL learners enjoy … but adults in particular … is to act out scenarios or simulations of things being talked about in the course. Students can experience the simulation .. then respond in writing, film a video in character, interact in forums together, etc.

While not strictly “gamification”, having students explore ideas “in character” … take on a role and express an opinion … interacting with other students in a forum, for example … is a fun way to play out situations talked about in the learning.

Visit this site (scroll down to “simulations”) to get tons of ideas for linking off to other websites and simulating experiences. If you can build it into a Powerpoint, that works great too.


The Takeaway

As you can see, there are tons of ways to build in some very simple gamification to your course. Just focus on broad themes for the look of the course, and keep the mechanics of gamification simple by focusing on treasure hunts and awarding badges.

If you aren’t sure how to get started with gamification, take a look at a course I teach called Fast and Fabulous Moodle Courses. The final module contains step-by-step videos, walking you through the gamification techniques mentioned in this article.

Let me know if you have any adult courses you are struggling to gamify in the comments below.

I love a good challenge!!