Optimizing Online Training with Blended Learning and Gamification

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‘Go digital or go dark’

Punctuated by industry experts across, this sentiment echoes the reality of every sector today. Though the digital mandate is nothing new, the pandemic has brought it into much sharper focus. Today’s accelerated paradigm of digitalization is reflected across all industry sectors, with education & training, banking as being one among the few early sectors to quickly jump on the bandwagon of digitization.

In the education and training sector, going digital has garnered a mix of results. While going online sure has its advantages, a question arises regarding its effectiveness in garnering learner engagement. When we look at corporate training, how can going online benefit? Is there a way to ensure learning in an online landscape?

In this article, we will take a look into how to optimize online learning with a blended learning approach that uses elements of gamification.

How To Optimize Your Online Training With Blended Learning & Gamification

Traditionally defined as a combination of online and offline learning modes, Blended learning today has come to be defined as a mix of Instructor Led Classroom and Online self paced learning.

Let’s take a brief look into how it has evolved through the years, what is the pressing need for it today, understand how gamification is integral to it and consider a use case to understand it’s effectiveness in learning.

Evolution of Blended Learning in Corporate Training

The evolution of Blended Learning in corporate training can be divided into three phases. In the first phase, that is the early 20th century, instructor-led classroom training programs were the norm, which meant that whatever employees learned were either on-the job training or were from internal instructions. In this stage, organizations were happy to invest in a full- day to even a week long learning interventions for their employees. The only blend in learning was that sometimes it was supported with pre and post reading. As we can see, e-learning was nowhere in the picture as all the training happened in a large classroom setting.

Phase two happened when businesses started to question the ROI of classroom training sessions. They began to look into technology and web-based learning.  This period can be traced from 2000 to 2005. Few years later, organizations started to flirt with the idea of a blended approach by backing classrooms with e-learning by converting a few sessions into e-learning mode.

Cut to 2015, the phase three happened with experiential learning as the focus. During this stage, organizations were no longer relying purely on classroom training. Blended learning, a combination of online and offline learning, became the norm. Investing in e-learning started to be considered relatively cheaper than classroom training.

In phase four, that is today to the foreseeable future, a new form of Blended learning approach will emerge that will be completely digital. It will be driven through social media, and other digital media platforms. Mostly hand-on, this stage of learning will employ elements of gamification and will also be personalized.

What is the pressing need for Blended Learning today?

A recent study by Microsoft has found that the average attention span of humans is a mere 8 seconds. In this scenario, how can you engage your employee during training and ensure that effective learning takes place? Unlike the traditional classroom training sessions, a modern learning approach, ie the Blended learning approach is aimed at improving the attention span by catering to the different kinds of learners.

A blended learning approach at its core involves the effective use of microlearning, online self-paced learning, and online instructor-led training with features such as gamification, pop-quizzes, hands-on assignments and more. All these features are targeted to engage whether your learners are visual learners, text learners, auditory learners, active learners or reflective learners.

Blended learning solutions are also the need for today’s workforce who are always on the go and in need of quick, bite-sized learning materials that are spaced over time. This is supported by study conducted by Harvard which found that a spaced out approach in learning improved retention and helped in effective learning by filtering out irrelevant information.

Why Gamification Is Integral to Blended Learning?

To define it simply, gamification in learning refers to the application of the elements of game playing in learning to engage, motivate and encourage learners.

The chief reason gamification is needed in a blenders learning approach is that it leads to habit formation. Studies have shown that gamification has the capacity and the power to build habits. As in its basic sense gamification involves using leaderboards, and badges, it brings in an element of competition to learners and results in a feedback loop that leads to habit formation.

Gamification & Habit Formation

Case Study- Angry Birds game

Let’s consider the example of the popular game Angry Birds to understand the principle of how games influence habit formation.

In this game, users get rewarded with badges as they cross levels and progress. The badges serve as a reinforcement of positive behavior – in this case, encouraging users to play the game again and again to get badges. Additionally, the game also lets users share their recent high scores on their social media profile to their friends. This is aimed at giving users a good sense of themselves by broadcasting their progress in the game. Thus, by getting users addicted to a sense of achievement., the games leads users to form the habit of playing the game.

Gamification works as it understands and operates on what drives people to do things. People do things because they want to express themselves, they want status and awards, they want achievements and recognition and also they want to compete with others.

As you can see from the example of the game Angry birds, the dynamics of the game makes all this possible. In the game, rewards are points and status means levels. Achievements are the successful completion of challenges and the virtual space gives users a platform for self -expression. Thus, all the things that drive people are inculcated and made possible through the game.

Science behind Gamification in Habit formation

Why do people get addicted to clearing levels in a game? One reason is that it has been found to increase the hormone dopamine in the body; dopamine is responsible for what is called as the anticipation of gratification.

As a person keeps playing, getting badges and rewards and seeing themselves at top in the leaderboard increases their dopamine and they feel good about themselves. It is this feel good factor that every game strives to tap into. Moreover, a recent study using neuroimaging techniques have found that playing games activate certain regions of the brain that are related to pleasure.

Now that we have established that games are effective to reinforce a behavior and to establish habits, let’s take a look into a popular app that uses a blended approach with gamification for effective learning.

Blended Learning using Gamification

Case Study – Duolingo, the language learning app

Used by 300 million people around the globe, Duolingo is the perfect example of a blended learning platform that uses gamification to get users to develop a penchant for learning languages.

The effectiveness of Duolingo in promoting learning has been well documented by studies. A study conducted by the City University of New York has found that the users who used the app for learning languages showed an average improvement of 94.4 points and that was statistically significant.

By incorporating fun, game-like elements such as leaderboards, badges, rewards, Duolingo has been successful in keeping language learners motivated and excited. There are weekly tournaments in which user scores are displayed on a leaderboard, which serves to motivate them to complete language lessons on a regular basis to get to the top and proceed to the next level.

The learning that happens in Duolingo is self-paced with a feature allowing the user to control the time that they are willing to spend for language learning. With bite-sized chunks, the app functions as a perfect blended learning companion for the user.

Want to emulate the success of this learning platform? Check out LnDCloud® – SpringPeople’s enterprise learning platform that uses a blended approach to learning.

How LnDCloud can facilitate your Blended Learning Journey?

Created in association with the UI/UX team of Harvard University, LnDCloud drives enterprise learning interventions and programs. In addition to providing blended learning, it has an exhaustive library of Self-Paced courses. Being and an enterprise learning platform, it has all the enterprise-grade features including analytics & reporting, real-time feedback, CloudLabs, Gamification, to name a few major ones.

While driving blended learning, the stakeholders can easily track the activity of the learners in real-time, monitor how they are consuming the content, and track their progress on assignments, projects, evaluations, quizzes and other activities.

For more information on Blended Learning using LnDCloud, drop an email to lndcloud@springpeople.com

About Ankit Jhamb

Ankit Jhamb

Ankit Jhamb - Associate Director, KPMG and a renowned name in the LnD space, leads the capability development function for two of KPMGs largest businesses. In his role, he drives the learning strategy by designing and delivering Enterprise level learning solutions. An evangelist of Inclusions and diversity, he is the youngest member on the ‘Board of Global Faculties’ at KPMG EMA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), and was awarded the ‘Youngest HR Leader Award’ in 2019 by the World HRD Congress.

Posts by Ankit Jhamb

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