It is not easy to stand out in increasingly crowded fields. Pioneers of learning gamification tools find themselves so popular that waves of copy-cats follow after new launch. What are the top players to do? If they are true leaders in their field, they’ve been plotting their next act for a while, ready to achieve the future of play-based learning and surprise the industry in the same breath. It becomes a masterful lesson when their “killer app” is seamless simplicity.
In 2018, Branch Up is one of the best exemplifications of pioneering gamification leadership in Moodle. Its Level Up! plugin, chosen by our readers as the winner of last summer MoodleWorldCup, continues to prove being a reliable solution that continues to grow and innovate. Furthermore, its path of innovation reflects the desires of its users. Not content with being on top of the people’s hearts and minds, a new press release shares light on Branch Up and Director Frédéric Massart‘s M.O. along with Level Up!’s latest. “New features have been added due to popular requests from users over the last year” figures in its opening statements.
In the roadmap going forward, Massart promises “collaboration, communications and innovation.” Taking a step back, it is clear how some of Level Up!’s time tested features are becoming standard for competing gamification solutions, in Moodle and beyond. As more organizations introduce points systems to encourage specific behaviors, Level Up! is already betting on the resulting desire to be competitive and the deeply knit integration of play components and factual outcomes of a course or learning intervention. For long, Level Up! was one of the few solutions with such a robust level of functionality:
- Easy way to assign and earn points after completing Moodle actions.
- Blocks that update in real time and easy to add across Moodle pages.
- Teacher dashboard.
- Student achievement notifications.
- For developers, event triggers when students “level up.”
While others are at a “points system” stage, Level Up! already leverages them on leaderboards. At first, they ranked students individually, but sensible user feedback made Massart and team realize the potential of group leaderboards. This has largely changed the landscape, where concerns about competitiveness, leading to sharper individualism, have turned into high expectations about collegial support and the observed level of cohesion within teams.
On a less evident, but curiously surprising insight, allowing animated GIFs as badges earned after reaching a given level, seems to awake a newfound role of “fun media” for active learning goals.
Massart believes that, rather than going out of their way to add odd new functionality, the success can be attributed to staying “true to the principles of gamification.” In the necessarily buzz-centric world of EdTech, only a few can claim to be active long enough to develop unique insight about gamification and its true engagement potential, beyond simple points, stars and badges. Minds like Massart realize that, for much of the benefits gamification has brought to online learning, we’re only scratching the surface of its full potential.