yukai chou gamification

The 10 Best Educational Apps that use Gamification for adults in 2023

This post was recently updated to reflect the 10 best educational apps for adults that use Gamification for 2023

Click here to view our full list of our Gamification examples. 

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. Brilliant – gamified educational app for problem-solving and critical thinking skills

Brilliant | Learn interactively

How it works: Brilliant is a gamified educational app that focuses on enhancing problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The app offers interactive puzzles, quizzes, and challenges in various subjects such as math, science, computer science, and engineering. Users can engage in thought-provoking problems and explore concepts through an immersive learning experience.

Why it works (according to the Octalysis Framework):

Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment – Brilliant utilizes this core drive by providing users with challenging problems and puzzles that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. As users progress and successfully solve problems, they gain a sense of accomplishment and advancement.

Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback – Brilliant encourages creativity by presenting problems that require unique approaches and solutions. Users can explore different strategies and receive immediate feedback on their progress, helping them refine their problem-solving skills.

Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity – The app keeps users engaged through unexpected and intriguing problem scenarios, stimulating curiosity and the desire to explore further. The element of surprise and the diversity of problems maintain user interest and motivation.

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 (according to the Octalysis Framework):

  • 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 (according to the Octalysis Framework):

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 (according to the Octalysis Framework):

  • 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. Mimo – gamified educational app for learning to code

Mimo: Learn to Code - Terms of Service


How it works: Mimo is a gamified educational app designed for individuals interested in learning to code. The app provides interactive lessons, coding challenges, and quizzes to help users develop coding skills in various programming languages. Mimo offers a structured learning path and progress tracking to ensure users’ continuous development.

Why it works (according to the Octalysis Framework):

Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment – Mimo utilizes this core drive by offering users a clear learning path with incremental challenges. As users complete lessons, challenges, and projects, they gain a sense of achievement and progress in their coding journey.

Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback – Mimo empowers users to apply their coding skills in real-world scenarios through coding challenges and interactive projects. The app provides immediate feedback and evaluation, allowing users to refine their coding abilities and enhance their creativity.

Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness – Mimo incorporates a social aspect by allowing users to connect with a community of learners, share their projects, and receive feedback from peers. This promotes a sense of relatedness and provides opportunities for collaboration and support in the coding learning process.

5. BitDegree – gamified educational app for learning technology skills

Gamification Design: A BitDegree Case Study 

How it works: BitDegree is a gamified educational app that focuses on teaching technology-related skills. It offers courses on various topics such as web development, programming, data science, and digital marketing.

By partnering with the Octalysis Group, BitDegree implemented behavioral science principles and the Octalysis Gamification Framework to transform their platform.

BitDegree incorporated various gamified elements into their platform to enhance user engagement. Firstly, they utilized the Octalysis Gamification Framework, which encompasses eight core drives of human motivation. This framework guided the design process and ensured the incorporation of both White Hat and Black Hat gamification techniques. BitDegree leveraged core drives such as ownership, scarcity, and epic meaning to inspire and incentivize users throughout their learning journey.

To address the audience-centric approach, BitDegree created a gamification path. This pre-defined learning path provided clear direction and support for users, catering to their specific learning motivations. By experiencing a structured journey and anticipating the end goal, users were motivated to progress and complete courses. This gamified learning path significantly differed from the previous function-focused design, leading to improved user engagement.

BitDegree’s implementation of gamified elements and audience-centric design yielded exceptional ROI. Within a short three-month design sprint, BitDegree witnessed a remarkable 400% return (or 300% increase) in course completions, while reducing the Time to Completion by 50%. Check out the BitDegree Case Study here.

gamification Bitdegree

Why it works (according to the Octalysis Framework):

  1. Core Drive 2: Development & Accomplishment: Through a gamified learning path, users are guided with clear objectives and a progression system. They earn rewards, badges, and certificates as they complete courses, fostering a sense of achievement and advancement.
  2. Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback: BitDegree encourages user creativity by incorporating interactive exercises, assessments, and projects. Users receive immediate feedback on their progress, allowing them to refine their skills and explore their own creative solutions.
  3. Core Drive 4: Ownership & Possession: BitDegree’s “learn to earn” business model, powered by blockchain technology, allows users to earn cryptocurrency upon course completion. This sense of ownership, as users accumulate valuable digital assets, motivates them to engage further and unlock access to paid courses or services.
  4. Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness: BitDegree incorporates social elements to foster a sense of community and relatedness among learners. Users can connect with peers, join discussion forums, and collaborate on projects, enabling them to learn from and support each other.
  5. Core Drive 6: Scarcity & Impatience: BitDegree introduces elements of scarcity by offering daily chests and mysterious map locations that haven’t been unlocked yet. By creating a sense of urgency and the desire to acquire something valuable before it becomes unavailable, users are motivated to engage and complete courses within specified timeframes.
  6. Core Drive 7: Unpredictability & Curiosity: BitDegree incorporates elements of surprise and curiosity throughout the user experience. Users encounter diverse challenges, quests, and interactive elements that pique their curiosity and keep them engaged. This dynamic and unpredictable nature of the platform sparks user interest and motivates them to explore further.
  7. Core Drive 8: Loss & Avoidance: BitDegree introduces elements of loss and avoidance by utilizing limited lives or time-based challenges. Users are motivated to avoid failure or loss by actively participating, completing tasks, and progressing through the learning path.

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 (according to the Octalysis Framework):

  • 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 (according to the Octalysis Framework):

  • 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 an 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 (according to the Octalysis Framework):

  • 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 (according to the Octalysis Framework):

  • 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 school 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 their 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 gamification 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 for future generations to come? I look forward to learning about that in the comments!

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91 thoughts on “The 10 Best Educational Apps that use Gamification for adults in 2023”

  1. Congratulations on your post, it is very complete. We don’t know if you have used http://www.genial.ly before but it is a very useful tool to create animated and interactive content very easily. We think it will be very interesting for you to take in consideration Genially in your next articles.
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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!!!!!!!!

  12. 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?

  13. 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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  15. 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.

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

  17. 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.

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

  19. 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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