Gamification in Educational Apps to Enhance Learning Experiences

What words do people usually associate with learning? Boredom, difficulties, and weariness are the first things that come to mind. Mastering new skills and knowledge requires discipline and commitment that many learners lack. But what if we tell you it’s possible to make learning fun and entertaining by turning it into a game?

By introducing such elements as badges and leadership boards, owners of educational apps can motivate learners, increase their engagement, and occupy strong positions in the EdTech industry. Game-based learning is predicted to become one of the leading revenue opportunities, so why not use it in your favor?

In this post, we will discuss the importance of gamification in education, its benefits, and successful gamified learning examples.

Understanding gamification in education

The term gamification was first introduced by Nick Pelling in 2002 while working on a more appealing UI for commercial electronic devices. He wanted to make ATMs and vending machines more responsive but eventually evoked a whole new era.

Gamification uses gaming elements to boost motivation and engagement, simplify learning, and make interactions with technologies simpler. When developing an eLearning app, companies often implement achievement points and badges, mini-games, progress bars, and all types of tests and quizzes.

Benefits of gamification in education 

Now that you are no stranger to the definition of gamification in education, it is the right time to discuss the main benefits this approach can bring.

Boosts cognitive development

Our brain can process only a limited amount of information. When the load becomes too heavy, learners may lose interest and overlook important facts; especially for children who are not able to focus for too long.

That is when gamification steps in. According to Dr Karyn Purvis, the number of repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain can decrease from 400 to 20 when learning is done in play. Gamification helps to reduce learning-associated stress, keep students interested, and develop their cognitive functions.

Other benefits of gamification in eLearning include the development of strategic, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, as well as memory improvement.

Higher user retention and loyalty

Gamification features make learning more entertaining. As a result, users spend more time in the app and access it more frequently, especially in comparison to traditional EdTech tools. Progress bars and coins for daily access encourage students to stay with your app, neglecting similar products.

Don’t know how to build an eLearning app that users will love and stick to? Research the market and get inspiration from competitors’ best features and instruments.

Better learning results and course completion

Gamification greatly contributes to learning outcomes, making information easier to digest and remember. Test results also back the idea that gamified learning is more efficient than traditional. Plus, in-app games allow applying new skills in practice.

Another advantage of using gamification techniques is higher course completion. Thanks to progress bars, badges, and other game-based features, users see how far they have come and are motivated to keep going.

Accessible education for people with special needs

Gamification apps for education are irreplaceable for special people. They can be a powerful instrument for consistent learning, personalization, social interaction, and motivation. Such apps make studying more inclusive thanks to such customizable settings as audio and visual preferences, data entry, and voice commands.

Brand recognition

When creating an eLearning app, one of your initial goals is to surpass the competitors and occupy a firm market position. Gamification features can differentiate your product from the rest and build brand awareness. It leaves a lasting impression and makes users choose your app, leading to achieving multiple business goals in the short and long run.


Gamification strategies in educational apps 

To make an app more entertaining, you can use numerous gamification strategies in education. The 5 most popular and successful of them will be covered in the following paragraphs:

1. Leaderboards

They are a common tool used in gamified education apps to motivate and engage users. Leaderboards create a sense of competition which encourages users to keep learning and improve their skills. Such boards may include information on the total number of points earned, occupied positions, and scores needed to climb to the top.

It is important to balance healthy competition and collaboration to avoid possible negative consequences like demotivation and a feeling of unfairness.

2. Personalization

By right, it remains one of the most successful gamification strategies. Personalization helps students emphasize their individuality, adjust the app to their needs, and have the best user experience. Here are a few common examples of gamified in-app personalization:

  • Customizable characters that allows users to create avatars and change their appearance and clothes to reflect their personality;
  • Tailored difficulty levels based on learners’ skills and knowledge;
  • Personalized mini-games that reflect users’ interests and behaviours; and
  • Individual rewards to give students more of what they like.

3. Points and badges

It’s almost impossible to imagine education apps without points and scores which supply learners with instant feedback and reward them for completing certain tasks and levels. These incentives serve as milestones that players are motivated to reach and, as a result, decide to use the application regularly.

4. Progress tracking

Progress bars are among the best gamification tools in education because they give instant visual feedback and motivate users to continue learning. Progress bars are great for setting goals, monitoring achievements, staying persistent, and collecting feedback on what areas require more attention.

5. Virtual currencies

Unlike points or scores, digital currencies give learners a feeling that they are rewarded with real money which significantly increases engagement. Virtual coins can be used for all sorts of in-app purchases – unlocking new levels and missions, customizing avatars, accessing premium content, and so on.

Players may be offered to buy virtual currencies for real money. This is called a freemium approach and becomes an additional income stream for developers and app owners.


Examples of successful gamified educational platforms and apps

Wondering how to use gamification in your app? Need something to draw inspiration from? We have got you covered with the 6 gamification examples in education worth following.


Learning how to code has never been an easy task. It is a rather thorny and monotonous process that can bore and exhaust even the most ambitious and determined students. Codecademy knows that and successfully uses various features to turn the learning process into a game.

Here are only some of the features that make Codecademy one of the brightest gamified learning apps on the market: a dashboard where users set weekly goals and track progress, a result section with real-time reviews, and lots of puzzle games to consolidate skills.


Quizlet is a great learning environment where students and teachers can use flashcards, quizzes, and textbooks, as well as hold online lessons and revise obtained knowledge. Sounds boring? Not with Quizlet which has leaderboards and lets users play mini-games with others.

It also utilizes such gamification tools as instant feedback with highlighted mistakes, achievement points, and lots of personalization instruments.


ClassCraft has a rather noble goal of creating a positive learning environment based on modern pedagogy, collaboration, and sustainable learning. This educational game allows students to create characters which learn new skills, engage in teams, complete tasks, receive badges, and participate in quests.

ClassCraft is one of the best collaborative learning apps on the market that creates a feeling of community and boosts non-curricular cognitive skills through gameplay.


Most likely, you won’t find a more popular language app than Duolingo. This tool makes the learning process fun and simple by breaking complex topics into small lessons, adding voice accompaniment, and offering lots of personalization features like difficulty levels and session duration.

Some of its best gamification elements include badges, XPs, and Lingots – in-app currency that can be spent on advanced lessons, character personalization, and other activities. Want to know how to use gamification in education? Download Duolingo and be ready to take notes, as it has everything a great EdTech app can offer.


If you think that learning a new language, memorising words, or mastering history is boring, you have never used Memrise. Its players turn into astronauts and take part in a cosmic journey meeting aliens and exploring new planets along the way.

The selection of Memrise’s gamification elements in eLearning is more than impressive: integrations with phone cameras, quizzes, progress tracking, and numerous videos from native speakers.

Khan Academy

With more than 130 million users from 190 countries, Khan Academy is one of the best examples of gamification in eLearning in the modern market. This educational platform has thousands of courses on languages, arts, science, computing, and life skills translated into numerous languages. Khan Academy strives to make education available all over the world and doesn’t charge any money.

But the thing that makes this platform outstanding is how simple and entertaining the learning process looks thanks to all imaginable gamification features including avatars, badges, interactive assignments, and energy coins.

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Mistakes to avoid when implementing gamification

Learning from other people’s mistakes can save you loads of time and nerves. That is why we have made a list of the most frequent mistakes to avoid while working on e-Learning software development:

  • Complex mechanics. Students like simplicity, so eLearning apps should be easy to understand and use. Your aim of adding multiple features is noble but users may find it too complicated and your engagement will eventually drop.
  • Concentrating on the features, not on the learning. When adding gamification techniques in education apps, make sure they don’t distract users from the learning process. You should also avoid the temptation of concentrating solely on gamification. These are just auxiliary tools to improve the perception and memorization of information.
  • Not collecting feedback. You are creating an app for users and there is no better way to improve it than to know what people like and dislike. Collect feedback through app store reviews, surveys, newsletters, social media, and user behavior tracking to know what to change.
  • Poor budgeting. You should always know how much you will need to pay for implementing new features before the development stage starts. If not, you might find yourself overspending or putting the project on hold.
  • Skipping the testing phase. When the prototype is ready, test it with users to see what can be improved. It is much easier and cheaper than fixing the mistakes when the app is already on the market.
  • Hiring inexperienced developers. The team should understand your needs, have experience with gamification in eLearning, and provide updates on every step of the production process.

How to add gamification to a learning app

e-Learning app development is rather thorny, but not with our thorough guide. Read the following paragraphs thoughtfully and explore how to add gamification features to a learning app.

1. Define the goals you want to achieve with gamification

First of all, you should understand what problems you want to solve with elements of gamification in education. For example, to stand out from the competition, have an extra income stream, boost user loyalty, or make the app more inclusive. Once you know what results you expect, it will become much easier to choose the most suitable tools.

Don’t forget to evaluate your resources and capabilities to ensure there are no financial and technical restrictions on your way to app gamification.

2. Use suitable techniques

As you already know, gamification in learning apps comes in numerous shapes and sizes and the instruments you use will greatly depend on your target audience and the application itself.

For instance, leaderboards won’t be useful in educational apps for toddlers. There is also little sense in virtual currencies when it comes to products for educators. The best way to choose the right technique is to gather user feedback and conduct A/B testing.

3. Bring value

In-app gamification should enrich the lives of your users and not complicate them. Badges should motivate teenagers to use the app three days in a row, leaderboards – to promote healthy competition among classmates, and virtual currencies – to take another lesson even when the user is tired.

If the gamification features you choose don’t make the user experience better, you will hardly reach your goal of higher retention, increased in-app time, or revenue growth.

4. Add socialization

Players love sharing their achievements, so why not use social elements to enrich their experiences? Allow learners to share their scores and awards through social media, chat buttons, or communities.

Other examples of social gamification may include virtual gifts, multiplayer modes, collaborative missions, and in-game communication.

5. Choose the right development team

We recommend hiring developers with prior experience in gamification. They know how to develop an eLearning app from A to Z and can choose the right technology stack and methodology, meeting the budget and milestones, while you focus on other tasks.


Final thoughts on gamification in education apps 

Even though gamification was brought out not so long ago, it has already taken multiple industries by storm and eLearning is not an exception. More and more EdTech apps use such game-based features as badges and progress bars to make the learning process simple and entertaining. These elements increase brand awareness, boost loyalty, and elevate revenues.

If your application doesn’t have gamification features yet, it is time to fix the omission and turn to our Eastern Peak team for eLearning app development services. Fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you within one business day.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is gamification used in education?

Gamified learning platforms use tens of elements to increase student engagement, motivation, and retention. For example, leaderboards, points, quests, badges, and progress bars. You can read about them in the sections above.

What is an example of gamification in teaching?

The best examples of gamification education apps are Duolingo with experience points for completing lessons, Quizlet with matching games, and Codecademy which offers dashboards with weekly goals and achievements.

Can I include gamification for the e-learning app I already have?

Sure! You can enrich an existing EdTech app with gamification elements even after its launch. Thus, you will get learners’ loyalty, boost retention, and surpass the competitors.

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