Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Efficient Use Of Recreation-Primarily based eLearning In Increased Training

What is game-based eLearning?

The theory behind game-based eLearning is that learners learn best when they have to achieve goals or objectives and have fun at the same time. Game-based eLearning takes the competitive and scoring elements of video games, such as points, levels, badges, and leaderboards, and applies them to a classroom context. Elements of game-based learning also include goals, rules and objectives and can include conflict, competition and cooperation.

Another feature is feedback. The feedback in games and game-based eLearning is almost constant. There are several types of feedback that can improve game-based learning. Conformative feedback provides learners with instant feedback on the level of correctness of their answer, choice, or activity. Corrective feedback provides guidance and advises the learner on the correct action or activity. Explanatory feedback provides a detailed explanation of why the answer is right or wrong.

Games require a feeling of winning or losing, which can be achieved through:

  • Beat other players / teams
  • Beat the other / teams or beat the system
  • Outdo yourself by improving your performance

Risk and uncertainty are also characteristics of games that make them realistic, engaging and motivating. Uncertainty in a game can be created by unexpected events, coincidence, random reactions or by abandoning part of the rules and underlying models. Risks can also be introduced through these factors and through the use of resources or incentives. Participants can lose or acquire resources depending on their own actions, their opportunity, or the actions of others.

An important characteristic of games is that there is a goal that must be achieved. The goal can be:

  • To achieve the highest level of skill and / or competence
  • To solve a specific problem or set of problems
  • To be the best among the competition

In some games, the sub-objectives may change during the game because the player has reached a certain skill level and is moving up to a higher level. The goals can be given or determined by the players.

Why incorporate game-based learning into higher education?

Years of research clearly show that students learn best when they are actively learning. In the area of ​​higher education, however, the passive practice of lecturing and teaching is still generally maintained.

Game-based learning in higher education improves student attitudes, engagement and performance [1]. There are several aspects of effective teaching that are supported by game-based eLearning. Some of them include scaffolding, purpose, motivation, spaced retrieval, and exercise.


This is the application of educational strategies and techniques to take a learner from their current level of knowledge to the next logical level. Examples are notes, checklists, notes, prompts, and dividing content into small units to make learning easier.


Purpose in this context comprises three components: autonomy, competence and connectedness. The first is that people are motivated when they feel they have a sense of control and are able to determine the outcome of their actions; this is called autonomy.

Second, people are motivated when they feel competent. The content needs to be arranged from the least to the most difficult. This allows a learner to work their way up to the more difficult information while gaining confidence in their skills. Following this process gives the learner a sense of mastery and achievement. The most effective design of game-based eLearning is to design the experience in such a way that the learner stays at the limit of his or her competence. The content is just the right level of difficulty so that the learner feels challenged, but not so difficult that he or she feels unable to master the content.

The final element, connectedness (or social connection), includes elements like leaderboards or badges to connect one learner to another. People like to experience events with others so they can discuss what happened, share notes, and reflect on their experiences with others.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is when you do something just to satisfy it, while extrinsic motivation is when you are motivated by external rewards. Game-based eLearning should strive for a balance between these two types of motivational elements. Use a points or reward system to motivate the learner and provide feedback on how well they are doing a task. The points or rewards are extrinsic motivation and the feedback on performance is intrinsic motivation. When a task or activity might have low starting value or interest in the learners, rely more on extrinsic motivation.

If the activity is of high value initially, use feedback, achievements, and confidence to motivate the learner. If possible, combine intrinsic motivational elements such as mastery, opportunities for a number of small successes and success stories with extrinsic elements such as points, badges and trophies. Remember that different learners may have different levels of motivation to approach the content. Some are more intrinsically motivated and others more extrinsically.

Detached retrieval and practice

Game-based eLearning efforts take advantage of the research-based concept of distributed learning. Distributed learning means studying only a small amount of content at the same time over a long period of time instead of, for example, cramming the content into an 8-hour day at once.

Learning bit by bit means that the learner has time to process content deeper and can therefore better remember it when asked to remember. Distributed learning is used in many game-based eLearning applications.

There is also the idea of ​​retrieval practice, which essentially tests or questions the learner during the entire learning process. The process of making students remember the content creates strong connections with the content. Positive results from this technique have been demonstrated in many different groups at many different ages [2].

Effective game-based eLearning strategies

Start small. You don’t have to implement all of the elements of game-based eLearning at the same time. You can start by adding digital interactive games to review content and motivate students. The best games are the ones that let you add your own content rather than pre-made games with content that may not match or focus on the content your students need most. Some course development software such as Captivate and Lectora offer this option.

However, if you don’t need to create an entire course or module, Raptivity is an online tool that I use a lot to create quizzes and review games. It has some simple yet effective game interactions like Balloon Pop, Pizza Mania, Bowling Rush, and more that I can customize in minutes by adding my content. Once you’ve introduced some games into your course, you can add prizes, badges, and leaderboards based on the results of those games or other aspects of coursework such as being on schedule, results on assignments or tests, etc. You can then move on to leveling, so that the students have set goals for moving from one level to the next.

Don’t make games too easy or too difficult. This may require developing games with different content to meet students where they are while encouraging them to expand their knowledge. A three-step approach is to create a demonstration / learning level where a task is demonstrated. The second level is similar to the first level, but learners must complete the task with guidance, tips and advice. The third level would be where the students solve the task on their own.

Have fun creating the games. Think about the games that you enjoy playing. Which features do you like? How can you best support student learning through the game? Ask students what games they play on their phones or tablets and why they like those games.

The impact of game-based education improves learning. When used properly, game-based eLearning can help college students learn the skills needed in the workforce, participate in their learning, and achieve long-term goals. Jump in and create!


[1] Gamified Learning in Higher Education: A Systematic Review of the Literature.

[2] How to Use Spaced Retrieval Practice to Promote Learning

Additional resources:

Raptivity game examples:


Raptivity® is a new age tool for creating exciting learning experiences. This allows you to create visually stimulating eLearning content without coding.

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