The future of eLearning cannot be boring courses lacking engagement or emotional response…

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“The future of eLearning cannot be boring courses lacking engagement or emotional response…the future of eLearning must include games and gamification.” ~ Karl Kapp


The revolution has begun! It is not just a fancy buzzword anymore. It is considered to be among the top five enterprise learning trends, according to forecasts by many leading educational technologists.

You guessed it right! It is ‘Education Gamification’.

Education Gamification is evolving into various forms and learning contexts. In recent years, there is an interesting trend where gaming is used for learning computer applications. We are highly excited to see this trend because, like most of you learning professionals, we too believe that the best way to learn new software is by doing real tasks in a real environment, in a fun way.

We are especially impressed with two computer application learning games that are freely available in the market today. Here are our views on these programs along with our predictions (based on the present trends).


The first one on our list is ‘Ribbon Hero 2’, one of the best examples of application software gamification. It is a free plug-in game from Microsoft Office Labs aimed at helping learners develop their skills in using Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) in a game environment. You can run this game directly from any of your open Microsoft Office applications or by launching the program separately. However, you’ll require Microsoft Office installed in your computer to run this game.

The game starts with Clippy – the familiar Clip character – requesting your help to update his (or her?) resume to apply for a job. So your first task is to help Clippy properly format his resume (which is in a Word document). Later, you will be exploring six different time periods (levels) with Clippy in his time machine such as Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 1960′s, and the future. Within each time period, there are interesting challenges for you to explore. Each challenge takes you to any of the Microsoft Office applications to complete a task. You discover, learn, and practice features in these tools in a highly compelling environment. On successful completion of the challenges in each time period, you’ll be able to travel to the next one (level) with tasks getting increasingly complex based on your previous learning.

Here are the features that help make this game powerful:
•    Short and relevant challenges (tasks) that are highly engaging and stimulating
•    Immediate feedback that helps keep the learner motivated
•    The freedom offered to the learner to complete tasks in his/her own way

Currently this is a standalone application. We feel that including the following features in future releases of this game could help take it to the next level (social learning age):
•    Advanced Microsoft Office skills
•    Leaderboards
•    Badges and prizes
•    Social media support

You can download this game from the link below:


Adobe LevelUp is a free plug-in that turns learning Photoshop into an interesting experience. It allows learners to go on a series of challenging missions to complete various tasks. These tasks are built around key Photoshop functions such as removing redeye, whitening teeth, and replacing the colors in a photo. Upon the completion of each level, you can earn points and badges that enter you into drawings to win prizes from Adobe. The missions are realistic and fun, and these are what make the entire experience truly engaging. The game also includes leaderboards that let you see how you rank in comparison with others. In short, this game helps you learn the core features of Photoshop in a much more engaging way than typical software training.

Here are the features that help make this game powerful:
•    Brilliant activities that are adapted from real-world typical situations
•    Levels that invoke and retain interest and excitement
•    Leaderboards and social media support
•    Points and Badges that could be redeemed for interesting prizesYou can download this game from the link below:


It is interesting to note that gamification is a buzzword within the enterprise software market too! SAP, the largest business software maker worldwide, has been actively pursuing gamification in recent years. Here are a few interesting developments at SAP’s end:

SAP is prototyping an enterprise-grade gamification platform on their community network as a way to make their members more successful. Check the link below to learn more about their gamification component:

Here is a YouTube video on Demo Jam – A demo of the SAP gamification platform that leverages a forecasting client:

Finally, here is a YouTube video of a very informative interview with Karl Kapp (Instructional Technology professor at Bloomsburg University and the author of the book ‘The Gamification of Learning and Instruction’) on the topic ‘Gamification in Learning’. Karl discusses many thoughtful aspects of gamification including how games play a crucial role in learner empowerment:


What we liked the best about these games is the environment that they create to enable learning in the most powerful manner. It is not a virtual environment or a mimicked one like what we normally see in traditional learning programs. It is real, but made safe for practicing! Unlike the traditional demonstration-based software tutorials (with Show Me, Try Me, Test Me modes), these new systems designed with the Guided Discovery Learning approach are powerful enough to help transfer skills in new contexts. This technology-enabled system can help learners achieve higher skill and knowledge levels, and also maintain a higher retention rate.

We are excited about these developments happening in the field of gamification in application software and enjoy feeling part of this revolution. Here are a few things that we foresee for the future of application software gamification:
•    More software publishers embracing gamification in innovative ways
•    More powerful pedagogical features to make learning more effective
•    Better integration of the learning games to double up for performance support
•    More personalized and adaptive learning systems (using technologies such as Big Data Analytics)
•    Efficient tracking of these informal learning experiences (using standards such as Tin Can API)

What do you think the future of gamification in application software is? What interesting trends do you foresee for this technique? Please share your thoughts and experiences.

Written by Santhosh Kumar


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