Gamification of Education: What Memrise Teaches Us

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Gamification of Education

Gamification of Education or how Memrise is Making a Difference in an Overcrowded Market

Memrise is an online educational platform that uses memory techniques to optimise learning. Founded by ‘Grand Master of Memory‘ Ed Cook and Princeton neuroscientist Greg Detr, Memrise offers a great combination of Science, Fun and Crowdsourcing and over 200 languages available on the website and mobile application.

Great design, User Interface and Copy

The latest version of the website is pretty neat. There’s a tons of options when looking for e-learning platform, but Memrise hits the right chord right from the start. The color tones, the tagline “Learning, powered by Imagination” and the flat/illustrative experiential visual style create reassurance and calmness. In fact, learning languages can be boring or stressful, but the homepage brings the user in the in-between comfort zone.

Gamification of EducationRight on top, and probably the most clicked link by prospects, is the Browse button that takes you to the Courses page. The layout of this page, very Kickstarter-style is very well thought and designed. The courses panel with its custom thumbnails display 4 details that are Goal Theory tick marks:

  1. Feedback: The number of people that have subscribed to the course
  2. Specificity: The course theme,  profile and stats of the course creator
  3. Difficulty: The duration of the course
  4. Proximity: The price of the course

While the courses panels create a sense of choice and ability to customize learning which is the essence of e-learning, the left navigation menu allows users to browse per language which is quite useful and probably more adapted to the user-journey of someone interested in learning a language.

Gamification of Education

Game on

It’s interesting to notice that at this point, there’s nothing about fun learning or innovative techniques. But the gamification experience begins in the Course Details Page. As you can see below, what’s taking the most real estate of this page is the course’s levels.

The example shown is to learn English and has 67 different levels, starting with ‘Growing Plants’. You wouldn’t expect this from a traditional learning language website. You’d expect to start with ‘Basics’ or ‘Greetings’ or ‘General Conversation’. But Memrise offers the possibility find custom courses, structured in any way. It’s really up to the user to pick and chose his preferential learning path.

The second noticeable element from this page is the Leaderboard pinned on the right hand side. You can see here a list of all the courses students with Points that they would have earned learning. Adding small users’ thumbnails and it successfully creates familiarity and a sense of Communal Discovery.

Gamification of Education

Let’s learn some Swedish

Ok, now let’s have a look at a course. We’re going to pick ‘Body Parts in Swedish’ (why not?), a 59-minutes course with 59 body parts to learn. That’s… let me calculate… 1 word per minute.

This is how it works:

The first way to learn is to hear it pronounced by clicking the audio icon.

But if you are stuck, or if you need help to remember the word, you can display and browse mems (for mnemonics) submitted and rated by the community. A mnemonics is any learning technique that aids information retention. Mnemonics aim to translate information into a form that the human brain can retain better than its original form (Wikipedia), and is a very intuitive way of learning. You’d probably have used it in your own lives, in school, or elsewhere. (If you want to read about mnemonics techniques, this short article is quite comprehensive.)

Gamification of Education

When you have found a mem that works for you, you can practice and bookmark it (Choose) in case you forgot and want to go back to this step, and you can then move on to the next level / word to learn. And same logic, you can listen to the word and browse mems to help you remember the word.

Gamification of Education

There are different milestones in the Course, in which you are asked to answer a multiple choice question to validate your progression and earn Points (or Achievements) for the Leaderboard. That’s a brilliant and simple application of the Cascading Information Theory game mechanics, which is defined by a theory that information should be released in the minimum possible snippets to gain the appropriate level of understanding at each point during a game narrative.

Gamification of Education

In Summary

In summary, Memrise is a greatcase of Gamification of Education / e-learning website that uses Game Design & Mechanics in the right way:

A design: a great User Interface that puts user in a comfort zone
A gameplay: infinite choice for the users through content crowdsourcing
A set of  game mechanics: Communal Discovery, Leaderboards, Achievements
A method: through mnemonics / Flash cards designed to help users to remember using Cascading Information Theory


Now it´s your turn! Did you like Memrise website as much as we do? Do you know any other example of gamification of education? Do you think that gamification would help you to learn something faster?

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