Gamification is a hot buzzword right now in e-Learning and everywhere else. But does adding games to your e-Learning course really help engage your learners?

Pilots practicing on flight simulators are an example of the gamification of training. Foursquare is another example. Have you ever become the “mayor” of your favorite coffee shop or gym and then lost that title to someone else on Foursquare? Do you immediately vow to get it back? That’s social media gamification right there. However, besides bragging rights, you don’t really get anything out of being a Foursquare mayor. So what’s the benefit?

Gamification backgroundGamification uses the principles of play to make real-world activities more engaging. Games work because success generates pleasure in the player's brain. Brains that are accomplishing good things secrete chemical messengers like dopamine and serotonin, and praise is one external stimulus that drives happiness.In a corporate setting, gamification involves engaging employees with knowledge that encourages competition among peers and publicly rewards and recognizes those who excel. It can cover just about any topic: improving operations, cutting logistics costs and challenging employees to understand how their roles contribute to enterprise success. Companies like Coca-Cola, AOL, Nissan and Nike are all using gamification in their training programs. Technology research firm Gartner predicts that by 2014, 70 percent of global organizations will have at least one gamified application. Gamification is definitely on a roll!

Here are 5 ways games add to your learners’ experience

 

  1. Gauge their performanceGames provide constant feedback to the player. Do something well, and advance to the next level. Don’t do something well, and you’re either stuck on the same level, or worse, you move backward. When games are incorporated into e-Learning courses, your learners know when they’ve mastered a concept because they’re rewarded and allowed to move forward. Conversely, learners also get a good sense for what they’re struggling to understand. By using an e-Learning authoring tool like Lectora, it’s easy to create and incorporate an e-Learning game that encourages your learners as they succeed.
  2. Improve knowledge retentionYou’re not spending valuable time creating e-Learning modules just so your learners can forget everything by the next day. You want them to retain the knowledge. Gamification can help with that. Industry expert and author Jeanne Meister asserts that interactive learning games can increase long-term retention rates by up to 10 times. 
  3. Increase engagement and motivationGames have a psychological effect that motivates us to keep playing. This makes gamification a great way to keep employees engaged in e-Learning. Consider this real-world example: In 2011, scientists at the University of Washington released a crowdsourcing game called Foldit. Over 60,000 people started playing the game, and in just 3 weeks, they provided crucial insights regarding the structure of an enzyme critical for reproduction of the AIDS virus. These insights helped researchers identify targets for drugs to neutralize the enzyme. If they hadn’t been playing a game, do you think all those people would have felt motivated enough to get involved in serious scientific research about HIV? Consider what you could accomplish by generating motivation like that for your annual training! One blog to check out is, How to Use Games to Increase Interactivity.
  4. Promote happiness and increase revenueNo more boring PowerPoint slides! Watch your company attitude toward training shift as your employees realize how fun your new e-Learning is now. Gamification is good for your business because it fosters innovation, productivity, and fun, which inevitably enhance the work environment, resulting in happy employees. Plus, studies have shown that happier people equal higher revenue. Gamification is a win-win situation! For tips on creating fun e-Learning games, check out How to Create an Interactive e-Learning Game Using Actions and Variables in Lectora.
  5. Display achievementsIf you’ve worked hard to master a skill or accomplish a task, it’s natural to want to be able to show off that achievement. Digital trophies like badges allow learners to show off what they’ve learned, which automatically encourages other employees to want to learn more, so they can get badges, too. You just simultaneously rewarded your employees and incentivized them toward your e-Learning! That’s another win-win for you and your employees!

So there you have it: 5 ways that gamification adds to your learner experience AND your bottom line! Keep these in mind the next time you’re creating a new e-Learning course.