easter eggs moodle

While this is a seasonal post for some readers, but it works just as well all year round anywhere in the world by using gamification to boost learner engagement.

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Here’s how to boost your learner engagement with Moodle Easter eggs. They are an easy way to gamify your courses and make completing them more fun and engaging. So how do they work?

Used strategically, Easter eggs are ‘unlockable’ surprises which appear only upon the learner fulfilling certain criteria. Conditional activities came in with Moodle 2.0 so most Moodlers should have come across them, e.g. Resource B only becomes available after completion of Activity A.

This feature can be used to lay a trail of rewards (often badges) for learners to uncover. Badges can be as simple as images that are displayed (‘unlocked’) when the learner does something right. The badge thumbnail or icon can remain on the course page as a reminder of achievement. Learners become motivated to find all the Easter eggs, and the learning happens almost incidentally.

This has been shown to work well with younger learners but can also be enticing to adults if pitched to them the right way. Everybody loves following a trail of breadcrumbs, collecting shells and notching up wins. Whatever the metaphor, this basic drive seems to be baked into human nature. Why not use it to your advantage?

You don’t have to be obvious about it either: it can be fun not to show the students the criteria for unlocking badges, and not even mention there are hidden secrets to find at all. It’s more fun when they find something that’s totally unexpected. That’s how old text-based adventure games worked, and they had people hooked for years. Modern video games often have Easter eggs too. Do or say the right thing at the right time and you can unlock a hidden reward. Think what adding Easter eggs to your Moodle courses could do for your learner engagement levels.

Another approach is to create orphaned activities that are hidden from students on the course page but remain accessible via their URL. For example you could set up a course with 10 sections, then reduce it to 9 sections and leave section 10 as an invisible orphan that cannot be reached from the course page but only by accessing its URL from somewhere else in the course.

Here are some examples of ‘Easter eggs’ from iteachwithmoodle.com:

  • I want my students to spot 10 subject specific words in my course and click on each to read the definitions.
  • Those 10 words can be anywhere in the course e.g. webpage, quiz question, lesson, etc.
  • Each word is linked to a popup webpage, where the definition for that word is available.
  • The webpages are in the section that is invisible to students e.g. orphaned activities.
  • When a student finds a word and clicks on it, the linked webpage opens in a popup.
  • That webpage automatically gets marked as ‘completed’ and remains invisible on the course page.
  • When a student has found and seen all words, he/she unlocks the ‘Vocabulary’ badge.


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Have you used Easter eggs in your Moodle courses? What was your approach and what effect did it have on student engagement and/or course completion?

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