A gamification case study: Level up, brought to you by the people at Branch Up

Level up! is a gamification tool, built and maintained by the people at Branch Up.

Frédéric (Fred) Massart, our Founder, first came up with the idea when he was attending an edtech conference and walked away thinking:

“How can we encourage learners to take an extra quiz, read more content, and be drawn to their learning material? Let's find a way for them to go back to their course, to complete one extra task, to feel empowered. Let's reward them with experience points for completing tasks, and congratulate them for reaching milestones!”

That was the beginning of Level up!

Today, we go behind the scenes to talk to Fred to find out more about Level up!

Question: Fred, can you start by letting us know, how does Level up! work?

Fred: Level up! observes the actions taken by students and attributes them points as an acknowledgement, incentive or reward for those actions.

For example, by default when students read course materials, they will receive 9 points. When they actively participate, such as by posting in a forum, they will earn more points. Once they reach a certain amount of points, they get to the next level, and the number of points required to pass the following levels will incrementally increase, making it more difficult to “level up”. While the block does not require any setting-up to work, the actions, the points they provide, and the points required between each level can be customised at will.

Question: How have people responded to using Level up? What has been the most common feedback in terms of its usability?

Fred: It often even surprises educators how well learners respond to using Level up!. It engages them, and friendly competitions start taking place. Competitive students will want to maintain a higher level than their peers, while other ones will focus on their own progression through the levels. Importantly, Level up! rewards are not based on how a student performs, it’s about how participative they are, not how well they respond to quizzes. We believe that the more they participate, the better their chances are to perform well.

Usability-wise, Level up! is a drop-in solution, it does not require any setting-up to work so it’s very easy for educators to add gamification to their courses without taking a lot of their precious time.

Question: What other additions, improvements or exciting things can people expect with Level up! into the future?

Fred: A popular feature request is to implement team leaderboards. Learners would be organised in teams and would contribute to their teams' points. Teams could be competing against one another in the leaderboard. This is definitely at the top of our list, along with redesigning the user interface to provide even more control over where and how points can be earned.

More recently, we have been busy making Level up! natively working in the Moodle Mobile app, and making it compliant with the GDPR laws.

Question: Lastly, what is Branch Up’s approach towards gamification? What does the company consider to be the principles when working on gamification projects?

Fred: At Branch Up we thrive to develop solutions to make people’s lives easier, but also to develop solutions that are engaging, fun and enjoyable to use.

Gamification can be used in many forms and many projects, it can be targeted at making tasks more engaging, more pleasant, or at making students or employees perform better. When we develop gamification solutions, we look at how effective the solution will be, and how we can avoid monotony as users get used to the system.

We also ensure that the gamification tools do not come as a distraction to the main tasks that need to be accomplished.