Forming solid neural pathways in the users' brain--in other words, habits--is one of the most vital missions of a gamification designer. And this mission becomes more serious when we're talking about gamification in learning. In this chapter of the Gamification of Learning Techniques series, we're examining a popular and effective method to make the users form daily habits.
It's not the big things that add up in the end; it's the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary. -Darren Hardy
Learn languages with ONLY 5 minutes/day! This sentence is one of the most known mottos of Duolingo. Duolingo is a freemium language-learning platform that includes a language-learning website and app, as well as a digital language proficiency assessment exam. As of October 2018, the language-learning website and app offer 81 different language courses in 37 languages. Duolingo's approach to language learning is simple. Form a habit of language learning. It doesn't matter whether you want to put 5 hours/day learning new languages or 5 minutes/day. If you want to learn new languages, you have to form a daily habit of learning. If you spend only 10 minutes per day learning a new language, after 2-3 years, your small efforts will lead to tremendous success. Many little makes a mickle!
So how can you form a habit of learning? Research shows that, on average, it takes 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic. In other words, you have to do a particular activity for about 66 days to construct a new habit. So, the key is consistency. And there is a powerful gamification technique that facilitates the process of habit formation: Goal Streaks. The logic behind the Goal Streaks technique is much like Don't Break the Chain challenge -- created by Jerry Seinfeld. The logic, though, is straightforward:
The goal is to maintain a long chain. In this case, a 66-days-chain so you can form a habit. It's simple. Set a goal for the learners, or let them pick one, and count the consecutive days that the learners have achieved their daily goal. In Duolingo, as an instance, you pick a daily goals setting. Duolingo records your goal streak. You have to achieve your daily goals to save and improve your streak. The urge to protect the streak motivates you to put a small amount of energy every day and preserve the streak. Users usually can’t protect their goal streaks for more than a few months, but even if they lose their streaks, they make an invaluable habit of learning.