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DIY.ORG and Duolingo

Gamification is a buzzword in education nowadays, and my blog post features two apps that I feel use elements of gamification, especially badges and "levelling up" particularly well:, and Duolingo.

This site and app offers badges for skills that people build. You pick a label--eg, Superfan, Bike Mechanic, Backend Developer--and complete small tasks that build toward the goal of earning the badge for the label. What I find useful about this site is that, unlike many online badge sites, not everything (in fact, most of the tasks) are not web-based, so that it applies to real-life or analog skills. Also, once you master a skill you can get both a virtual and a real badge:

Finally, you can design a path for others to learn skills as well. Site:


This free, iPad app helps you learn a foreign language. You can choose from Spanish, German, Italian, French, and Portuguese. Each section is grouped into four or five lessons that take about ten minutes each to complete, and you can set how many minutes you want to work each day, as well as if you want reminders to meet your daily goal:

The lessons are a mix of vocabulary, sentence pattern, speaking, and listening exercises. Although not the most terribly interesting, the mix keeps things lively, and you are able to see how one pattern or one word is used several times, and the ten minutes goes by very quickly. The interface is very clean, and you have the option to test out of any given lesson or section.

I especially like the business model for Duolingo; in this time of in-app purchases, Duolingo makes money by having advanced users translate news and other text into and out of the languages they are studying, for Duolingo's clients.

Both sites use small, manageable daily or task goals to build larger skills, and show the big picture of what you're trying to do, so that you understand the path you are on. Each small task or lesson exists in its own integrity, so that there aren't pieces missing that you can only get from another section. They both also build capacity, in that you can apply the principles of gamification, and breaking down other skills into smaller tasks, as well as the skill itself.


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