The 10 Best Educational Apps that use Gamification for adults in 2018

This post was recently updated to reflect the 10 best educational apps for adults that use Gamification for 2018

Get ready to learn, the fun way! We have scoured the internet and app stores to find the 10 best educational apps that use Gamification for adults. See how companies and organizations are making learning languages, music, coding, art, history, and more fun and exciting for everyone!

10. TEDEd – gamified educational app to create actionable video lessons

How it works: TEDEd creates amazing, fun, entertaining educational videos for all ages to enjoy. In addition to their videos, they’ve created a web app that allows users to create video lessons that are actionable. Choose a video, add a description, add a quiz (multiple choice or open-ended), and prompt some discussion.

Here is the quick Lesson I created for Yu-kai’s TED talk.

Why it works:

9. Khan Academy – gamified educational app to learn anything for free, forever

How it works: Khan Academy is an educational platform where students can learn math, science, computer programming, history, and more. What makes Khan Academy standout is their mission: they aim to provide this education to everyone around the world (currently in 36 languages) completely for free forever.

They’ve accomplished some amazing results:

  • Students who complete 60% of their grade-level math on Khan Academy experience 1.8 times their expected growth on the NWEA MAP Test, a popular assessment test.
  • Student use of Khan Academy correlates with score gains on standardized achievement tests.
  • 20 hours of practice is associated with a 115-point average score increase from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT, nearly double the average gain of students who do not practice on Official SAT Practice.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling: Khan Academy truly utilizes CD1 to motivate donors, teachers, and volunteers on its quest to accomplish its mission. Because of their mission to provide free education to everyone forever, they’ve gotten companies that have donated over $10,000,000 each.
  • Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness: Khan Academy utilizes the power of CD5 to recognize their interns from around the world:

8. Coursera – gamified educational app to get Ivy-League education from your own home

How it works: Coursera is an online learning platform that provides universal access to the world’s best education from top universities. Universities add their courses onto the platform and students can use Coursera to pay for and take a course.

Why it works:

7. Udemy – gamified educational app for user-generated learning

How it works: Udemy is an online platform that allows educators to upload courses and for students to purchase these courses and learn online. Anyone from anywhere in the world can upload a course: you can learn anything from coding, to languages, to fashion, and even parenting.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: on the student-side of the platform, Udemy utilizes progress bars to indicate the student’s progress and to encourage completion of a course. They also dangle a trophy at the end of the course as their reward for completing it.
  • Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: Udemy truly excels on the teach-side of the platform. Anyone from anywhere in the world can create their own online course. They have the complete creative freedom to choose any topic and use their video editing skills to make their course stand out.
  • Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession: Udemy provides instructors with the chance to generate passive income.

6. Tinycards – gamified educational app for learning with flashcards

How it works: Tinycards (by Duolingo) makes learning with boring old flash cards actually fun and enjoyable through the use of Gamification. Pick a subject: language, science, movies, and start to learn with flash cards.

Why it works:

5. Blinkist – gamified educational app for reading non-fiction books in just 15 minutes!

How it works: Blinkist is for the professional on the go, the person that is super busy, but that desperately wants to carve out a little bit of time to learn something new. Blinkist summarizes over 2,000 non-fiction books to give you content that you can easily digest in 15 minutes.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Blinkist isn’t using a bunch of fancy avatars or leveling up systems; instead, it focuses on making the user feel incredibly smart and effective. Blinkist is a master at utilizing CD2 to help its users read more, learn more, and become a more educated person

4. Memrise – gamified educational app to learn a language through locals

How it works: Memrise is a gamified language learning app that utilizes a myriad of gamified techniques (including over 20,000 native speaking videos) to teach a new language. Players can learn English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, and many more languages. In addition, Memrise has courses for art, math, and history.

The app is incredibly fun to use. You are an astronaut, going on your journey to learn a new language! As you learn and progress, you gain in levels and your pet alien evolves as well.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Memrise uses CD2 in a myriad of ways: from earning points for completing lessons to leveling up your little alien pet, the app continuously shows the user their status and progression.
  • Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: Memrise has the “point and translate” mode that allows players to turn on their camera, point to an object, and get the object translated in real-time. It’s a phenomenal way to get creative and capture your own vocabulary library.

3. SoloLearn – gamified educational app to learn how to code

How it works: SoloLearn aims to gamify the way we learn how to code. As an educational app, SoloLearn naturally has lessons that teach players how to code, but that’s just the beginning. SoloLearn utilizes player challenges (players can compete head-to-head in a coding challenge and the winner earns XP), a Code Playground where players can show off the code they’ve created and get feedback from other members of the community, and a leaderboard that shows the top coders.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: SoloLearn utilizes progression, EXP, and leaderboards to drive players to continue learning to code.
  • Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: SoloLearn truly shines in the way it uses CD3 to drive player engagement. Players can create their own code and apps, upload it to the playground, and have players from around the world upvote their product and even play with it. This provides immediate feedback for the player and encourages them to continue engaging with the platform.
  • Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness: SoloLearn has an amazingly vibrant community (their Q&A discussion forum). The community is completely gamified, allowing players to upvote topics and get EXP for answering questions.

2. Yousician – gamified educational app for learning a instrument

How it works: Yousician is a Gamified educational app to learn a new language. When you’re ready for your lesson, you turn on the app, select your instrument, and choose a lesson or song to play. The app will play the background music, display the song tutorial, and listen to you play to give you immediate feedback about how you’re doing.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Yousician is structured like a game: you start off as a beginner with easy levels (easy songs). As you progress and get better, you unlock stages that get progressively difficult and you level up in level. You can also see your progress through the in-app analytics that shows how you’re improving.
  • Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: This is where Yousician truly shines. The key to Yousician is that it listens to you play and gives you immediate feedback. If you struck a chord too soon, it will visibly let you know immediately and track your progress. In addition, you can upload your own music to the app so that you can learn to play your favorite songs.

1. Duolingo – gamified educational app for learning a new language (and it’s free!)

How it works: Duolingo is a free language learning app on your mobile phone. There are a ton of languages to learn: Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, and the list goes on and on. In fact, more Americans are learning a language on Duolingo than the entire American school system! It’s quite an impressive feat.

Duolingo is proud that they infuse Gamification into every lesson. From in-lesson grading, to streak counts and hearts, Duolingo has done a terrific job at making language learning incredibly fun and easy.

Why it works:

  • Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning & Calling: As stated in the Duolingo Manifesto: “There are over 1.2 billion people learning a language and the majority are doing so to gain access to better opportunities. Unfortunately, learning a language is expensive and inaccessible to most. We created Duolingo so that everyone could have a chance. Free language education – no hidden fees, no premium content, just free. Duolingo is used by the richest man in the world and many Hollywood stars, and at the same time by public schools students in developing countries. We believe true equality is when spending more can’t buy you a better education.” When you use Duolingo or pay for the premium version, you are contributing to this grand mission.
  • Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Duolingo utilizes progress indicators such as daily goals and streaks to make a player feel accomplished and get them to come back for daily usage.
  • Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession: There is a currency within Duolingo called Lingots which allows players to buy Power Ups (such as streak freeze) and buy attire for your avatar.
  • Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness: Duolingo has social language learning clubs within the app that encourage players to learn with each other. Although it sounds like a great idea, it’s actually implemented weakly–not much conversation is happening amongst club members, resulting in empty rooms.
  • Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience: In order to play (to learn a language), you need lives. If you run out of lives, then you have to wait until you regain life to learn again.
  • Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance: In Duolingo, players get lives. Every time you fail a lesson, you lose a life. Run out of lives and you’ll have to wait until you can continue learning.

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!

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Published by

Jun Loayza

Just trying to be the best Papa to my little Juniper and the best husband to my soulmate — Kim.

59 thoughts on “The 10 Best Educational Apps that use Gamification for adults in 2018”

  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 http://www.gabrielsseeds.eu

    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 http://www.classroominc.org.

  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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