The term “gamification” as applied to eLearning has had some ups and downs since it first became a hot topic a few years back. While some people hailed it as a great way to capture learner interest and attention, others felt that it catered to the lowest common denominator by focusing on fun rather than content.

I recently had the opportunity to create a gamified module for a client’s onboarding course. Onboarding at this company had previously been presented as a virtual course, and they wanted to move to a flexible onboarding solution that they could offer to each person as they joined the company, while using a modular approach that meant they could send individuals to a specific module for remediation or updated information or even as a companion to the employee handbook. The gamification came from turning a trivia quiz into a game show format. Since I can’t share their proprietary information here, I’ve replaced the questions with trivia about Gagné’s Nine Events of Instruction. If you are familiar with this behaviorist model for helping people understand, retain, and apply new learning on the job, you’ll know that the very first step is to gain attention – and gamification is a great way to do that.

Let;s take a look at a few of the graphic items I used for this project.


On the title page, I used an image that suggested a game show with lights and colors. Even though the template we used cut off the audience, this bright image started the module with some punch.

The Submit button states were custom built in PowerPoint using 3D techniques to create something that looked like a buzzer the learner could hit to answer the question. The click state is slightly depressed and the text is grayed a bit.

The podium illustration was originally just wood grained, so I edited it to add the black screen to show the score, which was set up as a variable reference that changed with each correct or incorrect answer. In the original version, the client’s logo appeared below that screen.

Sometimes clients are concerned about things like using cartoons or humor in a course. That kind of content can be tricky to deploy professionally, as that line of what’s “professional” can vary from client to client. In this case, we were able to make our expert, Leonard, just a little obnoxious about the points he won. Also, even though there’s no voiceover on this module, a subtle confirmation “ding” on correct answers and “buzzer” on incorrect answers added a fun feel without going too far for the workplace. 

Click the image below to see how it all came together as you test your own familiarity with Gagné’s Nine Events.