How to Effectively Use Gamification in Education with Moodle

How to Effectively Use Gamification in Education with Moodle

Now that you know all the elements involved you might feel a bit overwhelmed not knowing where to start from. Let’s see briefly the steps involved and two real examples, one epic for young students (primary), and another one, more real, for older students:

1 Know your students (players):

You can base that knowledge on stereotypes, psychological theories, polls, or on your own experience as a teacher. Classifying them might be harsh, so, instead of that, only identify the disruptors, the ones who will be causing more disturbance.

  1.       Epic: very young students, of about 10-year-old, full of illusion, consumers of cartoons and addicts to video games.
  2.      Real: older students, 18-20, interested in real aspects of life and earning money, decide what path to choose (university or wok), looking forward to defining their personalities and socialize.

2 Choose your goals:

  1.       Epic: learning how to work with an LMS, teamwork, information searching, responsibility.
  2.      Real: curating contents, gaining expertise, be prepared for the real world.

3 Design a story and its aesthetics:

In spite of what story you choose there are some common resources to use:

  1.      Colors: design your palette with the help of
  2.      Icons: there are tons of places to get them from, as
  3.      Fonts:
  4.      Storyboard (flow): CmapsTool is great to create graphs
  1.      Epic: a LOTR style story, full of dragons, potions and the like.
  2.      Real: a hackers adventure, trying to start a new start-up company. Matrix style.

4 Motivators:

  1.      Epic: relationships (constructing, exchanging, challenges, ruling, discovering).
  2.      Real: power (invading, creating, forecasting, collecting, gathering).

5 General dynamics:

  1.       Create an attractive and engaging one. The first contact must be impacting.
  2.      Make your players feel they are the center and protagonists of the story. They really need to feel it as theirs.
  3.       Start with a sandbox mechanic, and increase the difficulty based on the results you’ll be measuring constantly. To know more about how to present your course’s contents read my article “Neuromoodle” (
    1.        Onboarding: first stage of the adventure, where elements and the plot are presented. The basis of your contents should be put here too, describing what’s your course about, a background and the expected outcomes.
    2.      Scaffolding: add new elements and increase the difficulty progressively.
    3.    Paths to mastery: combine everything up and add extra knowledge. Students should be excelling at this point.
  4.      Present the elements of the story only when needed. That way you’ll preserve mystery, and you’ll have extra time to go on setting up your LMS in case you are short of time.
  5.       Teamwork should have more weight than working alone.
  1. Create an action-reward dynamic. Grant rewards more easily in the beginning, but make earning them more and more difficult as the story develops, something like AR-AAR-AAAR.
  2. Give gifts in a regular basis .
  1. Use the choice mechanic. Players need to feel they are in charge. The more freedom, the more engaged they’ll be. And, of course let them know where they are. You wouldn’t like too much freedom to spoil them.
  2. Keep an eye on students joining late or giving up too early.
  3. Base your interactions in positive messages. But don’t forget negative motivators.
  1.      Make clear the rules and the consequences of not sticking to them.
  2.      Present the space to the players (completely or in parts, depending on the effect you seek).
  3.      Take into account your students’ diversity and capabilities.
  4.      Make the beginnings and endings of each stage very clear, and set a final quest for each one.

6 Mechanics/components:

Most of them will be used, but in different degrees.

  1. Epic: points and leaderboard, avatars, feedback, brotherhoods, power-ups, rewards, special events, tutorials, choice, quests, sandbox.
  2. Real: points and leaderboard, avatars, competitions, forums, time, feedback, virtual economy, rewards, tutorials, grades, choice, ambassadors, quests, epic quests, sandbox.

For example, you wouldn’t like to stress young students so earning points and leveling-up should be easier in the epic one. Feedback is a key point as well, and plenty of it should be given.

7 Implementation:

A picture’s worth a thousand words. Check this simple example based on an epic adventure LOTR-style. Realize the sandbox mechanic to guide the player during the first contact, and try to identify the rest:

After you’ve seen the example, you can examine how it is seen as a course administrator:

About the Author
Author: Andoni SanzWebsite:
I'm a Computer Scientist working as a STEM Teacher and an Educational Technologist. Google Certified Educator and Moodle expert, I'm immersed in a non-stop research on technology applied to education, combined with the latest pedagogy trends, as blended learning or gamification. Also working on Gamecodization: teaching how to code through game development.

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