The Key to Engaging Learners: Designing Effective eLearning Games

Designing Digitally


The Key to Engaging Learners: Designing Effective eLearning Games

There’s a learning sweet spot where excitement and engagement meet with the opportunity to expand a skill set. eLearning games fall in that sweet spot. Creating effective eLearning games requires a designer to walk a tightrope between fun and education so that the audience gets a relevant, valuable learning experience.

Here are some ways to find the sweet spot where learning and enjoyment team-up.

Think ahead

Before you start designing a game, the first order of business is to create a layout. It should be in-depth enough to highlight every element that will be included in the game. Getting off track can be really easy when you’re in the game design process. You need a “roadmap” that keeps your focus on the goals you’re trying to achieve.

Make sure it includes:

  • The structure of the learning game

  • The desired outcome

  • The key pieces of information you need to relay

  • The interactive components of the game

Read also: What are Serious Games?

Pick a relevant theme and stick with it

You may be tempted to fill your eLearning activity with as many graphics and images as you can fit. You want to keep their attention, so you need to have all the visual bells and whistles, right? The truth is, the most important goal is for your game to be effective. That means you’ll need to limit your graphic design elements to those that fit your theme. Consider your audience, the theme you want to cover, and then choose the design elements. Make sure your learners can connect to the content in some way.

Every element should serve a purpose

Don’t stick random elements in because you think they’re cute or funny. Keep your primary goals and objectives at the forefront and make sure that each component of your eLearning game design meets them. Remember that your main purpose for creating an eLearning game is to get your audience to retain the information you’re giving them, as well as to be active participants in their own learning process. If you stray from your objectives, there’s no real value for your learners. They won’t be able to make the connection between the eLearning activity and the real world, therefore they won’t be motivated to learn, they won’t see the benefits, and they won’t be engaged. The skills you want the learners to acquire should never take a back seat to the eLearning game itself.

Walk the fine line between difficult and challenging

The goal is to design an eLearning game that challenges the learner enough to make them want to learn more. If a game is too difficult, people will become frustrated and give up before they’ve learned anything. Make the content immersive for each member of your team – no matter their skill level. The key is researching your audience so that you can design effective eLearning games that are just challenging enough.

Read also: Employee Training and Why Learning Games Work

Provide plenty of options

When you give your learners choices, they feel as if they have control over what they’re learning. Don’t just ask them to progress through a learning activity. Instead, let them make decisions throughout the game. Give them a variety of paths to choose from that lead to various lessons. This feeling of power over their learning is a motivating factor and raises the chances that employees will be engaged in the process.

Show results

When you’re designing an eLearning game, make sure that the learners are able to see the real-world outcomes of their choices within the game. Good or bad, it’s an important part of the learning process. Experiencing the consequences in a risk-free environment is valuable. It’s also a necessary component to make sure that the learners know why they’re participating in this particular activity and what they’ll achieve by finishing it.

Make it fun

Some eLearning games are boring, bland, and don’t provide any real value to the learners who endure them. Effectively designed eLearning games have an element of risk as well as rewards. Participants are learning through their mistakes and building critical thinking and reasoning skills. The reward aspect boosts motivation and encourages learners to keep going. It can be as simple as earning credits or moving to the top of a leaderboard.

Putting it all together

All of these elements work together to provide an eLearning activity that engages, encourages, and effectively trains workers.

Contact our team at Designing Digitally, Inc. to discuss how eLearning games can be an effective way to engage your organization!