8 Tips To Effectively Use A Point-Based Reward System In eLearning
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How To Effectively Use A Point-Based Reward System In Your eLearning Course Design

Point-based reward systems give online learners the extra nudge they need to get actively involved. This approach gives credit where credit is due by awarding points to top performers. It also acknowledges online learners who make significant improvements and bridge gaps along the way. Here are 8 tips to use a point-based reward system in your eLearning course.

1. Clarify The Criteria

Online learners need to know how they can earn points throughout the eLearning course, as well as how many points they must accrue in order to complete the requirements. For example, they must earn a total of 100 points to receive their certificate. You should also clarify which eLearning activities are eligible and how many points each one is worth. For instance, they will earn 50 points for successfully completing the problem-solving branching scenario and achieving the most favorable outcome. Or they have the chance to score 10 points for attending the upcoming webinar.

2. Frame It With A Theme

Some online learners may need a bit more than a basic point-based reward system to stay motivated. However, framing your point-based reward system with a theme can make the prospect more enticing. For example, transform each point into a virtual coin that online learners can deposit into their eLearning course "accounts". Then you have the ability to play on the theme by allowing online learners to drag-and-drop their daily coins into piggy banks or safes. Take it to the next level by transforming your entire eLearning course layout into a vault that online learners must enter each time they login.

3. Align Incentives With Desired Behaviors

The primary purpose of using a point-based reward system is to reinforce certain behaviors. Otherwise, you end up rewarding online learners for every action they take, which may send the wrong signal. For instance, they earn 5 points simply for logging into the system or participating in a branching scenario, even if they didn't perform at their best and made multiple mistakes. When creating your criteria, make certain that you support favorable behaviors and desired outcomes. That way online learners know what's expected of them and have the ability to fix performance issues before they escalate.

4. Poll Online Learners To Find The Ideal "Ultimate Reward"

When all is said and done, online learners are working toward an ultimate goal. They save up enough points to earn a specific reward or accomplishment. As a result, this reward must be enough to motivate and inspire them to make an effort. But how do you know which reward will ignite their drive and determination? Why not just ask them! Poll or survey your online learners to gauge their personal preferences and interests. Then create a point-based reward system based on the consensus. For instance, 75% of online learners state that they would like to receive a certificate of achievement that they can show off.

5. Incorporate Visuals To Spark Excitement

Include visual reminders of what online learners can earn if they give their all and collect enough points. For example, corporate learners have the chance to earn a paid day off if they reach their goal. Thus, you can show images of professionals like themselves enjoying some leisure time to serve as an example. Likewise, the points should include a visual component. For instance, they appear as gumdrops that online learners need to drop into the jar, or tokens that they insert into the arcade machine, in hopes of beating the "top score".

6. Include Point-Based Progress Trackers

Online learners need to know how far they've come and where they're headed. In a point-based reward system, this involves progress trackers that are prominently displayed on the main page. Once again, the progress tracker can align with your pre-determined theme. As an example, use a thermometer to represent their progress. Every time they earn points, the temperature rises until they reach the top. You can also include a list of recommendations alongside the progress tracker for those who are struggling to advance, such as simulations or eLearning assessments that center on personal skill gaps, and allow them to accrue more points.

7. Give Online Learners The Power To Earn "Extra Credit"

In some cases, it's wise to offer extra credit to online learners who need to make up for lost time. For example, they weren't able to attend the live webinar, which was worth 10 points. However, they have the opportunity to earn 5 by watching the recorded version and answering a brief questionnaire. There is a caveat to extra credit though. You should only use it sparingly so that the points still carry weight. For instance, online learners can simply complete all of the extra credit tasks and modules to earn enough points for the ultimate reward. In addition, these optional assignments should still support the desired behaviors and outcomes.

8. Consider A Full-Fledged Gamification Strategy

You may want to think about diving into gamification and adding a variety of game mechanics to your eLearning course design, such as eLearning badges, leaderboards, levels, and unlockable objects. A broad range of incentives cater to different learning preferences. Thus, everyone has the opportunity to strive for their goals while earning rewards that pique their interest. Just be sure to map out how each incentive fits into the overall picture. For example, online learners can use their points to earn special badges, which brings them one step closer to the top of the leaderboard.

Points may not be as competitive as leaderboards, or have the same aesthetic flair as eLearning badges. However, you can use these 8 tips to offer your online learners all the incentives they need to reach their goals. The secret is focusing on the learning objectives and creating effective criteria so that everyone knows what to expect, and what's expected of them.

Is gamification or serious games the best approach for your next eLearning course? Read the article Gamification And Serious Games: Differences And Benefits eLearning Pros Need To Know to discover the differences between these two strategies, as well as the benefits each can offer your online learners.

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