Gamification of learning is an approach that has come a long way since its inception a decade ago. From being a buzzword, the learning approach now enjoys wide patronage from organizations after it consistently showed its versatility in meeting most corporate training needs.
In this approach, the mechanics of games are used to meet specific learning outcomes. The primary objective here is to maximize learner engagement and enjoyment by capturing the learner interest and thus inspiring them to continue learning.
In this article, I will explore certain critical points that should be at the fore of your mind before you gamify your courses.
What You Should Know Before You Gamify Your Courses
Gamify with a Purpose
Incorporating gaming elements can make the course appealing to the learners. However before you proceed to do that, first you should have a definite goal regarding what you want your learners to achieve. If the purpose is not defined properly, there is a likelihood that the course will get off the track and not meet the objective of the training. The main reason for this is that not having a purpose can leave the players (aka learners) confused.
So, before you begin to gamify your courses, ask yourself, What is the purpose of gamification of that particular course? Do you want to improve the performance of the learners or their interaction with each other? Do you want it to increase the number of students who make it to the end? Or, all of the above?
If you have answers to these questions, it will be much easier to design your strategy and to measure the success of your course. This goal should be the primary focus rather than the specifics of the game like levels, points etc.
After you consider what the goal is, ask yourself whether gamification will help you to meet that goal. Also, find out whether it will be in line with your learners expectations and goals.
As the concept of gamification is currently in vogue, be careful that you are not caught up in its hype. Some of the things that you should consider when deciding whether or not to gamify are:
- Would gamification contribute to the participant’s learning experience? This is critical as there are some types of topics and content that are more likely to work in a gamified format
- Does this learning strategy suit your audience? Why this should be considered, is because, there are some types of learners who are less inclined to learn in a gaming format
- What is the timeframe and cost associated with developing the gamification elements
Gamification is Not Competition
Competition is an integral component of gamification. However, it is not the desired outcome of what gamification is striving at. Gamification is a tool to motivate learners and to make learner retention of the materials easier. This learning method guarantees learner engagement and active participation, thus enhancing learning and retention for learners who would normally be just passive observers. Be careful not to make the point of your course winning or being better than fellow learners as your learners will then focus only on that.
Don’t forget to emphasize things like feedback, collaborative efforts and positive reinforcement as these are the things that will continue to have significance long after the training is over. I would like to again draw your attention to the fact that before you attempt gamification the primary step should be to find out how it is going to improve or contribute to the learning process. If you are unclear about this, then take a step back and figure it out.
When you are developing gamification elements for your enterprise learning courses, keep the following points in mind:
- Understand and let your employees progress at their own pace
- Your game should have a meaning beyond who can get it done fastest, or who ranks the highest
- Ensure that more than one player is being recognized for the same thing, thus making the game more than just filling a top spot
- Give continuous real-time feedback so that learners will be encouraged to show their work
- Give learners the option to opt out of the game when they want, as it will be demotivating for them to play a game that they are not interested in
- Quality is more valuable than quantity. For instance, if part of your gamification involves making employees post something on a forum or share something on social media, ensure that it is not quantity based on which they are rewarded. Identify a way to qualify what is shared.
Give Meaningful Rewards During Gamification
As reiterated earlier in the article, gamification should always put the learner goals ahead of inconsequential things like badges or points to ensure that it is effective in enhancing employee learning. Also, during gamification, learners should be given meaningful rewards that are in sync with their needs and goals.
Do you know continuous, real-time feedback also constitutes as a reward? It is widely regarded as essential for ongoing motivation and also appeals to the need to improve. For that matter, some people argue, that even negative feedback is a motivator since it is important for learners to feel that they are being paid attention to and that their actions have meaning. With continuous feedback, the attention is put back on the journey of learning process instead of getting to the finish.
Following are two common rewards that you can give your learners. Weigh the pros and cons of each before you decide on the type of reward:
- Discounts and Monetary Incentives
One of the advantages of giving discount coupons and monetary incentives is that you can get the interest of the learners easily. The flip side is that learners will be more attracted to the saving rather than to the program or course, which means that they will be easily won over by a better deal or stop the course once you stop giving the incentives.
- Personal Recognition
If you ask your learners to post something and assign points to posts that are most helpful or most liked or shared, you give them the feeling of being heard which will motivate them to participate and learn more. The flip side to this is that your learners can abuse this, either by talking about topics that they know will gain the most attention or by artificially boost their own posts.
Gamification is sure to boost your employee engagement and set them on a learning path. Now that you are familiar with the prerequisites to gamification of your corporate learning, what you need is case studies demonstrating the impact of gamification. Stay tuned for my next article highlighting how businesses have scored big with gamification.