Using Gamification In eLearning
Let’s first understand what gamification is and how it is different from playing games.
In one of my earlier articles on gamification, Top 6 Benefits Of Gamification In eLearning, I had highlighted both these aspects as follows:
- Gamification is about more than just playing games (in fact, sometimes it does not involve playing games at all). It can be defined as the concept of applying game-design thinking to non game applications.
- Wikipedia defines gamification as “the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems”.
What Are The Benefits Of Gamification In eLearning?
Again, I will recap from my article the key benefits of gamification:
- Better learning experience.
The learner can experience “fun” during the game and still learn if the level of engagement is high. A good gamification strategy with high levels of engagement will lead to an increase in recall and retention.
- Better learning environment.
Gamification in eLearning provides an effective, informal learning environment, and helps learners practice real life situations and challenges in a safe environment. This leads to a more engaged learning experience that facilitates better knowledge retention.
- Instant feedback.
It provides instant feedback so that learners know what they know or what they should know. This too facilitates better learner engagement and thereby better recall and retention.
- Prompting behavioral change.
Points, badges, and leaderboards would surely make training awesome. However, gamification is about a lot more than just those surface level benefits. Gamification can drive strong behavioral change especially when combined with the scientific principles of repeated retrieval and spaced repetition.
- Can be applied for most learning needs.
Gamification can be used to fulfill most learning needs including induction and onboarding, product sales, customer support, soft skills, awareness creation, and compliance.
- Impact on bottom line.
On account of all these aspects that touch and impact learners (better learning experience, higher recall and retention, catalyzing behavioral change, and so on), it can create a significant performance gain for organizations.
Does Gamification Really Help Learners Recall Or Retain Information Better?
The answer is an emphatic “yes.”
This is summarized very effectively in the following statement (as per Wikipedia):
“Gamification techniques strive to leverage people’s natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, or closure.
Gamification strategies include use of rewards for players who accomplish desired tasks or competition to engage players. Types of rewards include points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar, or providing the user with virtual currency.
Making the rewards for accomplishing tasks visible to other players or providing leaderboards are further ways of encouraging players to compete.”
How Can You Ensure Success Of Gamification In eLearning?
Success of gamification in eLearning is driven by the power of the concept that it is based on. An effective gamification concept is one that:
- Captures (and retains) learners’ attention.
- Challenges them.
- Engages and entertains them.
- Teaches them.
Gamification In eLearning: 6 Killer Examples
While gamification has been applied in several domains, our focus has been on its application in serious learning. The games that we design are therefore geared to meet definite learning outcomes.
Our gamification strategies broadly map to:
- Complete gamification, wherein:
- Tasks or concepts that are overlaid on the learning content but are not related to the content.
- Contextual tasks or concepts that are overlaid on the learning content.
- Partial gamification (notably in inline checks and end of course assessments)
In this article, I will share 6 examples that will illustrate how gamification (full or partial) can be applied to your key training needs in:
- Induction programs.
- Professional skills enhancement.
- Soft skills enhancement.
- Behavioral change.
- Gamify assessments for traditional eLearning courses (partial gamification).
Example 1: Induction Program.
The gamification concept: We chose the 100 days induction cum onboarding plan to map to a theme of a mission that needed learners to clear various levels within the stipulated time. It also had leaderboards to enable them to assess how they are faring against the other team members.
Reference: You can also refer to my earlier article What Are The Benefits Of mLearning? Featuring 5 Killer Examples, where this example was featured.
Example 2: Professional Skills Enhancement (account management fundamentals for project managers and account managers).
The gamification concept: An avatar based gamification approach. The highlights of this approach were:
- Creation of different learner paths.
- Alignment of the learning and gamification path to the proficiency of learners.
- Presentation of a mix of questions in each path (mapping to real-life challenges commensurate with the proficiency level of the learners).
- Non availability of learning aids of theory (lifeline) for higher proficiency learners to make the challenge tougher. (The complexity and the nature of the challenges posed to the learners tested their cognitive proficiency to tackle the situation at hand, thereby resulting in immersive learning.)
Reference: You can also refer to my earlier article Gamification in learning through an avatar-based serious game concept, where this example was featured. The article provides further insights on the concept and its application.
Example 3: Compliance.
The gamification concept: We created a simulation based, task oriented gamification course, which was interactive and engrossing.
- The game scenario was mapped to the context of risk management and the incremental learning was provided at each stage of the game as the learners took the challenges and overcame them.
- To achieve this, we incorporated a real work environment (visually), an element of challenge (bonuses and bombs), rewards for success (caps, badges), and learning through activities including elements of surprise and delight.
- We provided the learners the choice to seek support while performing the assigned task like in a real life scenario mapping to actual human behavior in such situations. This ensured a true simulated environment to encourage application of knowledge through performance.
Reference: You can also refer to my earlier article Gamification in Compliance, where this example was featured. The article provides further insights on the concept and its application.
Example 4: Rewards And Recognition.
The gamification concept: This too uses an avatar based approach. The learners go through a series of gamified activities that map to the required qualities of a given reward category. The activities simulate and reinforce the qualities the individuals have to maintain to win. The scores lead them to gaining the reward. This approach also features leaderboards.
Partial Gamification: Features Gamified Activities Or Gamified Assessments
Here are a couple of examples that show how partial gamification techniques can be applied to a traditional eLearning course. This simple value addition can make a standard eLearning course more fun and engaging.
Of the two examples of partial gamification techniques featured here, the first one shows a gamified activity while the second one shows a gamified assessment.
Example 5: Soft skills / time management - A gamified activity on time wasters.
Example 6: A gamified assessment.
This can be used to enhance learner engagement in any traditional eLearning course.
The power of gamification in eLearning that is aligned to learning outcomes is clearly evident in these 6 examples. I hope this article was useful in helping you understand how you can use gamification in eLearning for almost all of your training needs.
At EI Design, we have a very mature gamification practice and we can help you in transforming your traditional eLearning approaches to more immersive gamified approaches. Do reach out to me for pointers on these.