Learning Apps That Use Gamification: Examples and Features Overview

Sofiya Golovnya posted on Apr 13, 2021, edited on Jan 13, 2023
Learning Apps That Use Gamification: Examples and Features Overview

It’s been proven that 400 repetitions allow a person to make a new synapse in the brain and learn something. When done with play, this only takes 10 to 20 repetitions. That’s why gamification is becoming an essential e-learning application element. This approach helps increase user engagement, education effectiveness and differentiate your app from the competition.

We’ve created a guide on gamification in learning apps with few popular examples. This guide also provides a breakdown of gamified elements, some mistakes to avoid when adding gamification to your application, and more, so keep reading.

Why add gamification to your e-learning app?

There are multiple reasons why gamification learning apps are worth creating. Below are a few statistics that prove the effectiveness of gamification.

Gamification in traditional education and corporate training statistics

Let’s look at the five ways of how gamification can add value to your e-learning solution.

#1 It improves engagement

Gamifying your application is a way to ensure that it won’t be boring and learners will find it highly engaging. Game-based learning stimulates the same neurological activity as playing video games, making users want to study more.

Game-based elements help learners stay focused and consistent with their courses. For example, T-Mobile employees earned over 180k achievement badges after the company introduced gamification into its corporate training.

#2 It motivates learners

Rewards for completed tasks and lessons act as great motivation to study more. That’s why gamification tools for education like levels, rewards, and badges can urge users to consume more learning materials. 

Cisco, for instance, motivated its employees to study more by offering titles like social media Master. The introduction of such achievements led to learners completing over 13k courses.

#3 It improves knowledge retention

Truly effective education means learners retain the freshly acquired knowledge, and gamification helps achieve such a result. Academic Naomi Holmes states that game-based learning allows early educational progress assessment, which significantly improves students’ knowledge retention rates in the long run.

#4 It promotes cognitive development

Gamification is an excellent cognitive development tool. Brain training features are especially important in apps for kids and teenagers, as they’re in the active stage of cognitive development. However, adults benefit from brain training too, so gamification is worth including in learning apps for users of any age.

#5 It helps increase education accessibility

Gamification in education apps makes learning easier for people with special needs. For example, game-based apps make studying much easier for individuals with conditions like autism spectrum disorders. You can use gamification to create niche learning tools catering to the specific target audience. 

Now that you’ve determined why game-based learning is effective, we’ll move to different types of gamification to add to your educational app.

What gamification features does your learning app need?

Gamification offers a lot of features to choose from for your e-learning product. Here’s an overview of various gamified elements you can add to your learning app or website.

Types of gamification elements in education

Levels, points, and scores

Levels, scores, and points provide users with instant feedback, which is crucial when studying. A course can be broken down into several bigger levels, or each lesson can be considered a level just like in a video game. Scores and levels serve as targets that users want to reach, meaning they’ll use your e-learning tool more regularly.

For example, ClassDojo, a learning app for children, offers users points and levels in the form of belts along with points and special prizes for them.

Gamification in learning apps: levels, points, and rewards
Levels, points, and rewards classification in ClassDojo

Rewards and badges

Badges and rewards are a fun way for acknowledging users’ learning progress. Rewards are usually given in instances like reaching a course milestone or using the app for a continuous time. If your learning app has several user roles like students and teachers, create specific badges and rewards for each type of user.

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A leaderboard is the key gamification element to add the feel of competition to your edtech solution. Make sure to include such information for a user performance ranking:

  • how many points a user has already earned;
  • what leaderboard positions a user occupies;
  • how many points are required to get to the top of the list;
  • what will cause a user to lose their leaderboard position.

Here’s an example of a leaderboard in Seneca, an academic educational platform. Users can filter out the competition by a timeframe and specific subject.

Gamification in education apps: leaderboard with filters
Leaderboard with filters in Seneca

Progress bars

Progress bars are a clear performance indicator. They help learners stay on track and measure their progress, whether with a separate lesson or the whole course. Include milestones and possible rewards when displaying the user’s advancement in the course to motivate them.


Following a storyline is an excellent way for users to stay on track with their course. Such an approach is especially effective with children, as they often are easily distracted from studying. However, storylines are also worth including in applications for adult learners, as they make any educational app more engaging.

Research shows that 63% of people remember information better if it’s presented as a cohesive story. On the contrary, just a 5% knowledge retention rate is shown when information is presented in a conventional format.

Virtual currencies and in-app tools

A digital currency can make your users feel like they are rewarded with actual money for completing course lessons. Besides, such rewards can be used on getting in-app tools. 

Duolingo is the prime example of an app with great virtual currency implementation. Users are rewarded for each task they complete and can purchase bonus lessons, health points, and more with the in-app currency.

Gamification in learning apps: in-app currency
Duolingo in-app currency: shop and goods for purchase

Countdown and schedule

Limited time to complete a lesson serves as great motivation. We suggest you add a countdown for completing individual tasks or a schedule for finishing the whole course on time.


People love personalization, and this applies to educational solutions, too. Give your users a chance to choose nicknames and avatars to make their profile stand out. Including badge and award customization options for course administrators is another great way to personalize a learning app.

For instance, Voki is a platform that allows teachers to create personalized characters like animals or people for gamifying lessons. Over 70% of Voki users say the tool has made learners more eager to study, proving the effectiveness of personalization.


Last but not least are microinteractions. These include easter eggs, animated elements, special effects. Some microinteractions serve a purely decorative purpose, so don’t go too overboard with them.

Facebook, for example, uses microinteractions to capture users’ attention for up to 4 hours a day. Learning apps can also achieve impressive results with these game-based elements. Use your imagination; maybe you’ll come up with a totally new and unique gamification element for your application!

The best learning apps that use gamification


Duolingo gamification: achievements, experience points, virtual currency
Duolingo gamification: achievements, experience points, virtual currency

Duolingo is one of the most notable examples when it comes to gamification in learning apps. This language application offers a solid set of game-based elements, which helps keep the learning process fun and engaging. Social learning features contribute to the success of Duolingo.

A notable gamification element of Duolingo is its main character, the eponymous owl Duo. The mascot guides users through the app, making it easier to navigate and more fun to use. 

Key gamification features:

  • Experience points
  • Badges
  • Leaderboards
  • Achievement levels
  • Rewards
  • Virtual currency
  • Storylines
  • Personalization


SoloLearn gamification: challenges, achievements, leaderboard
SoloLearn gamification: challenges, achievements, leaderboard

SoloLearn is one of the learning gamification apps in software development. The platform offers challenges where users can compete and win experience points. There’s also a Code Playground with a leaderboard where learners can showcase their code and get feedback from other users.

The platform has great social learning features. The app’s community is gamified, and learners can even use the apps created by each other. In the Q&A section, users can upvote topics and earn points for replying to questions.

Key gamification features:

  • Experience points
  • Badges
  • Leaderboards
  • Achievement levels
  • Rewards
  • Virtual currency
  • Personalization
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Khan Academy

Khan Academy gamification: badges and points
Khan Academy gamification: badges and points

The next example of gamification in learning apps is Khan Academy, a learning platform for acquiring academic skills. The main mission of the platform creators is to make education accessible, so users can study subjects like science, math, history, and more completely for free.

To make such courses easier to comprehend, Khan Academy provides several gamification features:

  • Experience points
  • Badges
  • Achievement levels
  • Progress dashboard
  • Personalization

The badges and achievements are split into categories based on the course complexity level. The badges and avatars are astronomy-themed, which adds the personalization element to the platform. Khan Academy also features a skill tree, where the subjects are neatly organized for users to see their learning paths.


LearnUpon gamification: points, levels, leaderboard
LearnUpon gamification: points, levels, leaderboard

LearnUpon is a corporate learning management system offering a great set of game-based elements. The platform helps streamline employee training by combining a straightforward design, many customization options, and gamification. The platform also includes features like surveys, exams, and certificates to maximize the efficiency of learning.

There are many effective gamified elements in LearnUpon:

  • Experience points
  • Badges (stock or custom)
  • Leaderboards
  • Adjustable achievement levels
  • Rewards
  • Customizable gamification mechanics
  • Gamification reporting for administrators


Elevate gamification: levels, experience points, health points
Elevate gamification: levels, experience points, health points

Elevate is a so-called brain training app offering research-based games to improve cognitive performance. The application consists of gamified tasks for improving skills like listening, speaking, and writing.

When users first download the app, they can assess each skill presented in the app. Over time, the courses are adjusted to be as effective as possible for each learner. Users can focus on their progress and track their performance with game-based features such as points and levels.

Key gamification features:

  • Experience points
  • Badges (stock or custom)
  • Levels
  • Rewards
  • Personalization
  • Animations

Mistakes to avoid when implementing gamification

Using gamification for education apps can imply some challenges. Here are the most common mistakes you should be aware of when creating a gamified learning app:

  • Including too many gamified elements. Try to find the middle ground when implementing gamification into your learning app. Choose the features wisely: not enough of them may be ineffective, but too many will distract users from learning.
  • Creating an overly competitive environment. Users should focus on improving their knowledge, not just getting to the top of the leaderboard. Keep that in mind and promote healthy competition on your platform.
  • Making rewards too frequent. Achievements become less meaningful when users get them very often. Distribute bonuses and rewards in a way to make sure learners actually have to work for them. 
  • Neglecting the increasing reward value. Users may lose interest in the achievement you provide if they are repetitive throughout the whole course. To keep the learners motivated, make the rewards more significant as the studying progresses.

If you want to learn more about learning app gamification mistakes, check out our article covering the steps of gamifying applications and the benefits of game-based learning.

Want to know about gamification benefits and steps?
Read the article

An example of poor gamification

Now that we’ve reviewed examples of bad gamification in education apps let’s look at a specific case of a poorly gamified e-learning tool.

Michael J. Cripps, a professor at the University of New England, decided to gamify his course to increase student engagement. He focused on points, leaderboards, and badges (PLBs) and developed his own scoring system. Students earned points for activities like attending classes or turning in homework.

Michael J. Cripps gamification system
Michael J. Cripps gamification system

Even though the number of earned points directly affected the final grade, students didn’t find professor Cripps’ system very engaging. The key reason for such a failure is the fact that including gamified elements doesn’t automatically make learning fun and engaging.

The professor created a great reward system, but the problem is that he only focused on points, leaderboards, and badges. Such a combination is often not enough to make learning truly engaging. Besides, students received points for mandatory tasks, so there wasn’t enough motivation to earn points.

How could’ve professor Cripps made his gamification system effective? He could’ve added another game element, for example, a storyline. He also could’ve rewarded students for achievements requiring more effort, like attending every class of the month or excellently completed assignments.

How can Riseapps help to gamify your learning app?

Our team has proven experience in implementing gamification in education apps. One of our recent cases is a gamified language learning app. With this project, we focused on gamification to make the application engaging for students of any age. The game-based features we added include:

  • Experience points
  • Badges
  • Leaderboards
  • Achievement levels
  • Rewards
  • Animations and rollovers

The gamification elements helped the app stand out among the competitors and turned it into a fun and efficient language learning tool. Our client received around $1.2 in funding.

Gamification in education apps: rewards and a leaderboard
Elearning gamification example: rewards and a leaderboard


To wrap up, here are three key facts and tips for creating gamification learning apps:

  1. Gamification makes your application more engaging. It motivates learners, adds healthy competitions, and makes your app more exciting to use.
  2. There are a lot of game-based elements to choose from. Pick out the ones that will suit your specific learning platform.
  3. Be careful with popular gamification mistakes. Study good and bad app and website examples to figure out how to implement gamification well.

Don’t hesitate to add gamification to your educational platform and let a professional dev team help you with that.

Looking for a development partner to build a gamified learning app?
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What are usually the gamification features in learning apps?

The key gamification features in learning apps are:

  • Levels and scores
  • Progress bars
  • Leaderboards
  • Rewards and badges
  • Countdown and schedule
  • Virtual currencies and in-app tools
  • Storylines
  • Personalization
  • Microinteractions

What are some good examples of gamification in education apps?

Here is our list of top gamification in learning apps examples:

  • Duolingo
  • SoloLearn
  • Khan Academy
  • LearnUpon
  • Elevate

Are there any mistakes to avoid when implementing gamification for education apps?

Be careful not to make these mistakes when building gamification learning apps:

  • including too many gamified elements;
  • creating an overly competitive environment;
  • making rewards too frequent;
  • neglecting the increasing reward value.

Contact Riseapps if you want an expert elearning development team to help you avoid gamification mistakes.