3 Simple ideas for gamifying your own learning (without technology)

Try to gamify your own learning before going to the deep end of the pool with your students. Gain an insight how gamification enhances your own motivation and engagement to better understand the process students will go through. Here are a few tips how to gamify your own learning.

Gamification can help you create a more engaging learning experience.1 But, there is a difference between game-based learning and a gamified learning experience, so make sure you don’t simply take a game and apply it to your learning. Instead, you should focus on finding ways to use gaming elements to create learning experiences that will boost your motivation and change your learning.

Here are three simple ideas to help you get started with using gamification on your own.

1. Focus on engagement and motivation

Think of your learning journey like on a journey from novice to master. This is what makes all games engaging — and sometimes addictive! Build your learning paths in a way that encourages you to strive to reach the next stage.

Here are some ideas that work well:

  • Build a physical game board that shows your progress:
    • Make a series of small, achievable challenges to reach an overall goal.
    • Use quests to engage and motivate. Start with a simple question or quiz.
    • You’ll need the opportunity to learn from mistakes. Get feedback from a mentor that can show where you went wrong and try again, stay motivated to continue learning.
    • Use the library and film and audio to provide interaction.


2. Make it a challenge

A good board game keeps you focused on providing a variety of small, incremental challenges to maintain the motivation to improve skills and knowledge. You should make these challenges achievable by ensuring that you can make your thinking visible in order for your mentor to be able to give you feedback and allowing for branching your learning path to keep the course relevant and engaging.

Let’s look at another example that makes learning a challenge. The immersive learning game platform BreakoutEDU2 enables learners to turn your classroom into an academically-focused escape room and facilitate games where players use teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of challenging puzzles in order to open the locked box. Learners complete challenges to unlock stages. Some of the successful gamification features include:

  • Scenario learning: learners complete interactive challenges and quests.
  • Storytelling: narrates the different stages.
  • Progression: a dynamic map shows players/learners what stage they are at and what’s left to complete.
  • Dynamic polling: players vote on solving the mystery and see what other players are saying.
  • Challenging: there are opportunities to gather points and bonuses that unlock future stages.


3. Levels, Badges and Boss Battles

In order to keep your focus on the big picture and turn your assessments into boss battles using checkpoints, summaries, and reports.  Achievement rewards can also be used to unlock levels on your gameboard to give you more throws or moves, or they can be used to build a roleplay characters etc. Badges are a great way to document your progress as well.3 


Yes, gamification in learning is a hot topic, but it shouldn’t be used as a gimmick. Instead of creating a game based learning environment you can use gamification elements to enhance the learning experience beyond a traditional lecture mode.


The Game of Research: [Board] Gamification of Library Instruction. The Journal of Creative Library Practice. https://creativelibrarypractice.org/2015/09/23/the-game-of-research/. Published September 23, 2015. Accessed June 1, 2018.
Breakout EDU Brings “Escape Room” Strategy to the Classroom | SLJ Review. School Library Journal. https://www.slj.com/2016/09/reviews/tech/breakout-edu-brings-escape-room-strategy-to-the-classroom-slj-review/. Published September 7, 2016. Accessed June 1, 2018.
Gamifying Assessment: Boss Battles. gamindex.org. https://www.gamindex.org/article-central/gamifying-assessment-boss-battles. Published August 20, 2015. Accessed June 1, 2018.