Gamification in Education: Top 10 Gamification Case Studies that will Change our Future

Education Gamification

New to Gamification? Check out my post What is Gamification & my Gamification Framework: Octalysis

Education Gamification in Action

There’s a lot of potential in the field of Education Gamification. I believe that humans have an innate Desire to learn. However, much of the school system these days “gets in the way of our education.”

If you ask children, “What is work?” They will say, “School and homework!!” But if you ask them, “What is play?” Many of them will say, “Video/games!!”

Clearly there should be a way to help kids learn from what they do best – play. This is why many educators are looking into a variety of new tools and techniques in Education Gamification.

No longer viewed as a mundane process for presenting information while testing for retention and understanding, the modern educational challenge involves tasks of engaging students, stimulating their interests, retaining their attention, and maintaining a positive attitude in a nurturing environment.

Key to these goals is the effort to maintain a rich communications environment that encourages feedback and reinforcement, not only between the instructor/teacher and students, but also between the students themselves.  These socially interactive mechanisms, with the proper level of control for encouragement and discipline, can be designed in effective ways to create “fun” learning situations.  The following examples reveal a number of ingenious approaches for not only improving the learning process, but also producing more effective educational environments.

Education Gamification Example #1 – DuoLingo:Learn a language while translating the Web

Duolingo is a massive online collaboration which combines a free language-learning website with a paid crowdsourced text translation platform. The service is designed so that students can learn a given language online, while helping to translate websites and documents. Beginners start out with basic, simple sentences from the web, while advanced users receive more complex sentences. As one progresses, so does the complexity of the sentences they are asked to translate.

In each case Duolingo provides the learning and translation tools to help the student to properly understand and memorize the words that they encounter. Each student can also vote on the quality of the other students’ translations, providing valuable feedback for comprehension and learning. The top rated translations for each sentence are made available for public viewing and collection.

As students learn a language, they earn skill points when lessons are completed or web content is translated. Lessons associated with a skill are successively completed when a give number of translations are completed. Since web content is inherently more interesting than “made up” sentences, the translation assignments are more engaging.

The site also includes time-based elements, such as skill points and time bonuses when questions are answered correctly within a given time limit. Incorrect answers result in a loss of points and “lives”, as well as the delay of leveling up. Since the system is adaptive, it tracks each completed lesson, translation, test, and practice session to provide feedback to the student and plan future lessons and translation assignments to better address their needs. All this adds up to a great Education Gamification experience.


Education Gamification Example #2 – Ribbon Hero: Epic game that teaches you how to use Microsoft Office

Ribbon Hero is an add-in game, available as a free Microsoft download, to help educate users of Office 2007 and 2010 on how to use the tools available in the new ribbon interface. Wow, what a creative use of Education Gamification!

Once installed, the game can easily be initiated from any of the key Office programs, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Once in the game, the user (player) is presented with challenges which can yield points if completed.

The challenges are grouped into four sections: text manipulation, page design and layout, artistic presentation, and a more generalized quick points section. With the first three sections, each challenge is designed to introduce users to a key feature and have them edit a sample document using that feature. The quick points section doesn’t offer specific challenges, but lists features instead, which can be used outside the game to accumulate points. Half of all available points can be earned through the game challenges offered in the first three sections, while the remaining points must be earned from implementing the same features outside of the game.

Microsoft has taken great care in designing the challenges by creating short, relevant tasks and providing immediate feedback and reinforcement to help keep the user engaged and interested. Also, by keeping the the difficulty level manageable, yet challenging, and providing enough support to insure reasonable success, the game encourages further play and development of Office skills.

Another feature of Ribbon Hero is it’s ability to track the progress of the user in learning to use the Office features and tools, and adjust the challenges accordingly. Not only by following the game progress, but by monitoring the features used outside of the game. The game can then adjust the order of training content to ensure that users see only features and tools that they haven’t seen before.

Because Ribbon Hero can link to Facebook, each player can share their scores and compare their progress with friends on Facebook who also play the game. In essence, Ribbon Hero is a software tutorial within a game that can be socially connected. This is one of the best corporate education gamification examples out there.

Note: Ribbon Hero was followed by the sequel, Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy’s Second Chance. This sequel adds a time travel element to the original game, where the user can follow the in game hero, Clippy, into different periods in time. The featured periods are Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 1960’s, and the future. In each case there are several Office-based tasks that must be completed before a move to the next period can be made.


Education Gamification Example #3 – ClassDojo: Turns Class into a Game of Rewards and Instant Feedback

ClassDojo is a classroom management tool to help teachers improve behavior in their classrooms quickly and easily. It improves specific student behaviors and helps engagement by issuing awards and recording real-time feedback.

Each student gets an avatar which can be visibly displayed in ClassDojo. For positive behavior it is easy for the teacher to initiate quick feedback to the student, awarding feedback points with a simple click on her mobile device or computer. This instantly reinforces good behavior and engages other students. Great education gamification techniques at play here.

Because the feedback time is shorten, the resulting positive reinforcement helps students develop a sense of purpose in the classroom, which enhances intrinsic motivation over time. By giving students visibility and data on their own behavior, the class becomes less disruptive, creating a more positive learning environment.

The system also provides print or email reports for behavior-tracking analytics to help engage parents and school administrators. All with a simple click on a mobile device, laptop, or tablet – no data entry required. This saves time for teachers, freeing them up to devote more time to the student and delivering instruction.


Education Gamification Example #4 – GoalBook: Brings student teams together around their individual Learning Plans

Goalbook is an online platform that helps teachers, parents and students collaboratively track progress. Blending qualities of social networking and Individualized Education Program (IEP) tracking software, the program makes it simple for students and teachers to set goals and for all involved parties to watch everything unfold.

With GoalBook, a teacher can easily access the profiles of all her students and review their goals. The teacher can then monitor the progress of each student as they complete the objectives for each goal. When a goal is met, the teacher can quickly update the student’s profile and then share it with his team. From her webpage, she can easily update and celebrate the accomplishments for any of her students, as well as see what they are sharing.

An amazing gamification tool for any special education teacher, GoalBook turns hours of record keeping and tracking into minutes – allowing them to immediately notify their students’ parents and primary instructors of any changes, progress, or problems. A great education gamification solution.


Education Gamification Example #5 – The World Peace Game: Game-based Political Simulation in the Classroom

An ingenious creation of Virginia educator John Hunter, the World Peace Game is a rich and elaborate political simulation that invites young students to explore a world not unlike our own, consisting of four or five prominent nations. As each country is directed by student teams, the kids are encouraged to explore the global community and learn the nature of the complex relationships between nations.

To view the world in terms of social, economic, and philosophical issues, and be confronted by challenges from environmental crises to imminent threats of war. Now over 28 years in continuous development, the World Peace Game is a hands on, group interactive theater of involvement for students and student teams, centered around a large geographical game board representing the fictional world.

The teacher introduces information which provides the initial scenarios – a mixture of existing conditions, favorable resources and political positions, with new and evolving crises, ranging from environmental issues to military situations. The students are encouraged to use their imagination and cognitive skills, seek collaboration and cooperation, and find solutions that will benefit their teams as well as the global community.

The main goal of this education gamification tool is to achieve a reasonably harmonious state for each nation and enhance global prosperity with the least amount of military intervention. A subsequent objective is for the students of each nation team to gain a greater understanding of the critical impact of information and how it is used. Often the solutions that these young fourth and fifth grade minds produce are quite innovative and surprising. Not only is this a great education gamification example, but also a stellar lesson in our society overall!


Education Gamification Example #6 – Coursera: Interactive Ivy-League Education in Your Home

Coursera is an educational technology and social entrepreneurship company that partners with leading universities to make some of their online courses available for free. Subjects include courses ranging from the Sciences and Engineering to Humanities and Business. The courses are designed to be delivered as a series of short video lectures on different topics and assignments, which are typically submitted on a weekly basis.

Progress can be measured by completing assignments and tests online where machine grading and evaluation can be used. In good education gamification spirit, the results are immediately reported to the student, as well as the instructional staff, providing feedback and reinforcement to the student. In some cases, leveling up, badges and other rewards systems are implemented.

Interactivity among the students is emphasized to encourage engagement and assist in long-term retention of concepts. This also provides frequent feedback which enables the student to monitor their progress and self-evaluate their understanding of the material.

Interestingly, the most popular course on Coursera is the Gamification course. Gamification Education indeed!

Education Gamification Example #7 – Mr Pai’s Class: The Digitally Assisted Class

Sometimes the best gamification examples are those that combine a multitude of fun technologies and solutions. Third grade teacher Ananth Pai at the Parkview/Centerpoint Elementary School in White Bear Lake, MN believes in the promise of games within education. The promise that it can make students learn more, learn faster and at their own learning level instead of worry about others in the class.

He is an advocate of interactive learning games that can be played individually, with other students in the class, or even students located in other cities, states, and nations. What is unique in Mr. Pai’s class is that several different devices and media channels are used. Not just computers with local programs and game-based apps, but web-based and console-based (such as Nintendo) games as well. He has taken traditional education methods and provided a technological twist to create new, digitally assisted learning opportunities.

As a result, this digitally assisted learning has produced increased class interest, improved math and reading scores, overall enthusiasm and class engagement. Often the programs and games are multi-subject based; such as with the game Flower Power, which introduces basic concepts in economics and business as the student increase their math skills. Multiple goals, achievements, rewards and positive feedback from fellow students and Mr. Pai are some of the characteristics that make the the class so engaging and fun. Yes, class and learning can be fun – most if not all the time.

Enthusiastic response from students, their parents, and other teachers and supportive companies and organizations has led to a school policy (school law) to enhance all classes with digitally assisted learning. This is not simply gamification education, but also an attempt to gamify education design!


Education Gamification Example #8 – CourseHero: Improving the Teacher-Student Interactions Online

Course Hero is an online learning platform for students and a portal for educators to distribute their educational resources. The site collects and organizes study materials that have been uploaded by educators and student users to form a vast learning repository. The Education Gamification platform provides materials such as syllabi, problem sets, and practice exams are combined with class notes, flash cards, and study guides that have been uploaded. In addition, Course Hero offers access to tutors, digital flashcards, and video lectures.

The digital flashcard application allows students to create their own study programs, which can become accessible to others. It allows them to set the pace of study to help maximize retention. The system further rewards students through a badge system based on progress.

A prominent feature of Course Hero is the “Courses Section” which offers a range of free and paid courses, based on aggregated web content. Each course typically consists of 6 sections, which are taught through a combination of videos and articles, with progress measured through continuous testing until the student masters the subject.

Some courses are further grouped into three course paths: Entrepreneurship, Business, and Web programming. For students who complete 5 or more courses in one of the paths, Course Hero will offer an Honors designation, with additional incentives. These incentives include an invitation to pitch a business plan to SV Angel, a job interview with Course Hero, and/or a cash prize. Another great gamification education example.


Education Gamification Example 9 – Brainscape: Turns Confidence Based Repetition into a Game

Showcased at the Venture Capital in Education Summit in 2011, Brainscape is a mobile and wed-based education platform that is designed to help students study smart. The program uses adaptive algorithms to create flashcards, whose presentation pattern can change in response to what students know and what they seem to be struggling with, focusing attention on the more difficult topics.

The method employed in this education gamification platform is known as Confidence Based Repetition. As the student answers each question, Brainscape also asks how confident they are in retaining the concept forever, using this information to determine how much repetition and reinforcement is needed. The color of each card is also coded to the level of confidence: 1 – red for “no confidence” to 5 – blue for “perfect confidence”, providing a visual cue for further reinforcement, before the next card is displayed.

Such a potentially valuable start-up consists of two components, one offering the free, self-created flashcards and the other targeted at selling educators and students premium content. This gamification education example could be a great tool for studious college kids, as it is most popular when used over an iPhone or iPod Touch, turning those old-school flashcards into something much more useful.


Education Gamification Example 10 – Socrative 101: In-Class mobile interaction between Teacher and Student

Many students find school dull and boring, but Socrative 101 offers a solution. This education gamification company makes it easier to engage students through a response system that offers educational exercises and games over a laptop or mobile device.

Initially the instructor will have a “room number” which they can give out to the students. The students will join the session by going to and entering the room number. The instructor can then engage the students, interacting with them and then initiate a quiz. Once the quiz is complete, the results are instantly available to the instructor.

Aimed at the digitally native generation, this education gamification program helps teachers adapt lessons to these modern learning styles and better track the results. By using mobile devices, any class can become more interactive and fun. As student expectations change, education has to follow suit, and this start-up could be one of the first steps in making that happen.

Conclusion: Education Gamification is here to change our future

Even with all the great examples above, this is just the tip of the iceberg of all the great education gamfiication examples. Education gamification is here to stay and here to change the world.

What about you? Do you know of any great education gamification examples that can really impact our society, not just for this generation, but also future generations to come? I look forward to learning about that in the comments!

(Thanks to Jerry Fuqua and William Baeyens for helping me on this post)

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59 thoughts on “Gamification in Education: Top 10 Gamification Case Studies that will Change our Future”

  1. Having grown up with a couple of languages other than English in the household, when it came time for college, I opted for German — which was a serious deathmarch for most of us. Between a “thick” text, really boring language lab, and constantly being behind the native speakers in the class, it was tough.

    Duolingo really does make it more interesting and “sticky.” Seeing how they have applied gamification concepts (in the best way) to a difficult task (learning another language) is fascinating to be part of as I’m still working on my German.

  2. One super simple way to gamify any learning lesson is to introduce current online games from various areas (math, physics, logic, brain teasers, reading, writing) into learning lessons. These simple online games are spread all over free gaming portals and they have valuable and amusing content. Current technology allows embedding them, teachers just have to apply them into everyday lessons.

    More details on how to do it is here

    1. Flow is the result of a well designed game not the framework. That’s like saying a great melody makes a great song. We only know it’s a great melody after we all think it’s a great song. Ever wonder why the top hits are rarely if ever made by music school graduates? They should all be millionaires shouldn’t they?!!

      Academics have fooled themselves into thinking they can make great games. They ignore the art of game design thinking content has nothing to do with the outcome. Tell me, are you interested in learning algebra by learning how to sew? No really, all I have to do is make sure you know how to sew, make it easy enough, then ramp up the challenge so you are not board or over stimulated, then throw in the algebra.

      The fact that the theory of flow doesn’t even mention content is LAUGHABLE.

      This is an incredible fallacy propagated by academia.

  3. I have facilitated World Peace Game and developed several game-based learning programs in Taiwan. Great to see this article giving me more information on education+gamification.

  4. this is a really helpfull article, im a second year history teacher student with a great passion for learning. And there is nothing better then finding an option to combinate those two. Your site is really helping me to see how it all works and how i can use it in class and maybe even get further in it!

  5. Hi
    Mr. Yu Kai…
    Im so interested how I can integrate this to my science class
    Hope you could help me with this matter
    Thanks and Avisala!!!

  6. Duolingo is definitely one of the best learning platforms of all times. I doubt that someone comes up with a better idea in the years to come. I hope they can be able to issue certifications for other languages, apart from English.

  7. I really like that you posted this article about how to apply this to education. I have always thought there had to be a better way to learn. I have tried to make learning fun for me because I retain the info so much better but most people thought I was just wasting my time.
    You are truly an inspiration. I have signed up for your 21-day course and have read just about everything on here already. I love it all so much.

    Thank you!!

  8. This is simply awesome. I will make my 2nd graduation’s thesis about this and I also plan to do some works with it, including a game created in Unity. There’s a swarm of ideas in my head now, thank you!

  9. Personally, I love the #5 case study. Reminds me one of our team building activity – South China Sea. I think those day without advance technology, we are more creative in using what we have and focus more on the concept design.

  10. I almost broke a finger sharing this as much as I did, and so quickly. I know lots of teachers and managers who need this, myself included. Best blog post EVERRRR! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

  11. That’s unfortunate…

    I had an idea for a platform, but one of these appear to be using some of the ideas. Any advice about competing against an established, well-known app?

  12. I have the opportunity to work in a Math’s game for school children,

    It was designed to present the player a fantasy world when people who have problems that have mathematical solutions ask wandering “Problemhunters” to solve them.

    The main character is a boy who just finished study at the “Problemhunter Academy” so he wander around resolving people problems.

    The most awesome thing was how engaged the children were, they even try problems above their current age…. and get the right way to solve each problem!!!

    If you could engage a children in doing maths…. it’s clear the power of human-focus design has a tremendous power to foster education techniques

    Stay awesome!

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  14. Thanks for this amazing report. Please also check out Classroom, Inc.’s literacy learning games! Classroom, Inc. is a nonprofit that builds literacy and leadership skills for middle school students. Students become the boss through our digital learning games set in the professional world. In the process, they read closely, think critically, and solve real-world problems, all while balancing the hectic demands of an exciting workplace.

    I am happy to share free accounts with anyone who is interested! We believe learning should be playful and challenging with content that reflects skills and abilities kids will need in the real world, check out our passion for learning games at

  15. Very interesting, truthfully insightful!* Thank you for sharing … gamification is a MUST in all scenarios – «Life must be lived as play.(Plato)»

  16. The Video about the World Peace Game is almost moving, that is simply Genius.
    Every time i see things like those I wonder why we keep losing all this potential with old educational programs, makes me crazy.

  17. It is a great article, and it´s helping me really well in me approuch to gamification. Thanks a lot

  18. Anyone have information on gamifying an “Intro to Computers” online course? Course content is MS Office 2013 & uses McGraw-Hill’s SIMnet hands-on site. Suggestions?

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