7 Tips To Integrate Serious Games In eLearning

7 Tips To Integrate Serious Games In eLearning
Summary: Are you ready to get serious about motivating and engaging your online learners? In this article, I’ll share 7 tips on how to integrate serious games into your eLearning strategy and walk the fine line between entertainment and online training.

How To Integrate Serious Games In eLearning

Serious games are learning in disguise. On the surface, it may look like an online game that is purely for entertainment purposes, complete with compelling eLearning characters and immersive storylines. But don’t let that facade fool you; they are all about inspiring, motivating, and informing your audience. Serious games have the power to fine tune skill sets, improve task proficiency, and get your online learners excited about the subject matter, even if it’s dry and dull. Here are 7 top tips to integrate serious games into your eLearning course design.

  1. Make learning goals and objectives the star of the show.
    Your learning goals and objectives should be the top priority. At one time or another, we've all participated in serious games that didn't follow this all-important rule. They may have amused and entertained us, but we didn't come away with any new information whatsoever. Thus, they didn't offer us any real world value. Every element you add to your serious game should support the primary learning objectives, from the online game mechanics to the online game script. Keep in mind that your online learners are working on a tight schedule. They don’t have time to sit through a half hour serious game in order to build skills or gather new information. You must research their preferences, performance gaps, and expectations to create a quick online gaming experience that meets their needs.
  2. Use online game mechanics to positively reinforce behaviors.
    One of the main purposes of using online game mechanics in your gamification strategy is to reinforce behaviors or knowledge. If online learners successfully complete a task or pass an online exam, they move onto the next level or earn coveted points. This positively reinforces favorable behaviors and encourages them to repeat them. However, offering incentives too readily can reduce the effectiveness of your eLearning game. Be careful about what you reinforce and how often. For example, an online learner who receives points for simply clicking on an object or reading a passage won't assign any value to those points. They know that ANY action will be rewarded.
  3. Include realistic and memorable eLearning characters.
    Your serious game should feature eLearning characters that connect with your online learners in a meaningful way. This requires that they are memorable, realistic, and well-developed. For example, each eLearning character should have their own personality traits and motivations. There must be a reason why they are behaving in a certain manner. These eLearning characters must also face a challenge or obstacle that online learners can relate to. Ideally, this conflict will mimic a real world situation that the online learner faces on a daily basis. Take your time creating the perfect plot line and setting the scene, making sure that the online learners know who is who and how they are related.
  4. Serious games are only part of the solution.
    Serious games are a valuable eLearning tool, but they shouldn't be the ONLY one in your eLearning course design. As a matter of fact, serious games are merely a piece of the puzzle, and you should pair it with other eLearning activities and eLearning assessments that enhance comprehension. For best results, focus on one goal, skill, or task when you're developing your serious game. This allows you to explore all aspects of the topic without overwhelming your online learners. It also ensures that your serious game still falls under the category of "microlearning", meaning that online learners can access it repeatedly to increase their knowledge retention.
  5. Choose an eLearning authoring tool that features in-depth analytics.
    There are a variety of eLearning authoring tools that now feature serious game tools, such as eLearning templates and asset libraries that include eLearning interactions.  However, when you're choosing the ideal eLearning authoring tool you should be on the lookout for in depth analytics and reporting. These features give you the ability to track online learner progress and identify areas for improvement. For example, if most of your online learners are stumbling through a level of your serious game, it's a good indication that it is too challenging or confusing. You may also need to include more eLearning activities to your eLearning course that focus on those specific ideas or concepts.
  6. Get online instructors and facilitators on-board.
    Bring as many people on board as possible and solicit their feedback, especially online instructors and facilitators who interact directly with your online learners. You should also hold a pre-launch or orientation meeting where you discuss all of the online game mechanics and instructions. Keep in mind that these team leaders need to offer ongoing support to your online learners while they are participating in the eLearning game. They must be aware of the rules and how to properly use the system. Give your online instructors eLearning videos, tutorials, and anything else they need to ensure the best possible online gaming experience.
  7. Add online forums and social media to your eLearning strategy.
    One of the drawbacks of serious games is that they are often asynchronous, which means that online learners must progress through the levels on their own. There is nobody to commiserate with after they've triumphed over a difficult challenge. They cannot ask questions about a puzzle that is posing problems in the second level. Adding social media and online forums to your eLearning strategy changes all of that, however. It gives online learners the chance to reach out to their peers, address their concerns, share tips, and discuss the subject matter. In short, it offers them a social, interactive, and collaborative outlet that magnifies the benefits of your serious games.

This article on serious games can help you create amazing and interactive eLearning experiences that wow your audience. Just make sure that you stay focused on the learning goals and don’t let the online game take control, or else you might end up comprising the value of your eLearning course.

Animations can also be a valuable eLearning tool that gets online learners excited about the eLearning process. Read the article 6 Tips To Use Animations In eLearning to discover that animations not only bring out our inner child, but they also have the power to improve knowledge retention.

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