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Fall In Love With eLearning: Gamification, Personalization and Clear Pathways

Learning new things is incredibly rewarding, yet we often find the process of knowledge acquisition dull, tedious and unclear. But it doesn’t have to be that way – by utilizing gamification, personalizing eLearning and demonstrating clear pathways of development, you can help your learners to fall in love with learning once again. Let me show you how.
Fall In Love With eLearning: Gamification, Personalization and Clear Pathways

Fall In Love With eLearning 

Winston Churchill once said, “Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” It’s a common complaint – while we enjoy learning new things and expanding our knowledge, we don’t necessarily enjoy the manner in which we’re taught.

When we think of ‘learning’, a lot of us will cast our minds back to school; for some, a world of misery with cramped classrooms, disruptive peers and cranky teachers. If you weren’t particularly academic, you may remember feeling bored and disheartened, eager for the day to end.

Most adults have only experienced learning and education in a school environment, and it can take a lot to change our perceptions of ‘learning’ when we reach adulthood. Unless we’ve gone on to follow our passions at college or university, we’ll be stuck in the ‘this is just how learning is’ mindset and accept sub-par eLearning.

But there’s another danger here: what happens when these people, who experienced dull teaching at school, come to design eLearning courses themselves? You’ve guessed it: they copy the structure and processes of school, thinking it is the only way people can be taught. As such, adult learning online is often equivalent to an information dump and then a recall quiz to check they’ve understood the information shoved at them.

You might be thinking, “So what? People aren’t enjoying their eLearning – no biggie. That’s not my problem. The learners just have to do it and get it over with.”

You know what I think? I think that’s just an excuse for creating poor eLearning. eLearning doesn’t have to be boring! In fact, every effort should be made to ensure the learning process is not dull, but riveting and engaging. If learning is enjoyable, learners will be more likely to continue learning and working hard.

Here’s an example. As part of their ‘Fun Theory’, Volkswagen transformed a set of stairs leading out of a Stockholm subway station into a giant fully-functioning piano keyboard. Those who chose the stairs over the escalator were treated to their own musical composition – anybody who has seen the Tom Hanks movie Big will appreciate the novelty here.

As a result, 66% more people than normal chose the stairs over the escalator. It just goes to show; making something fun and enjoyable can change the way we behave in situations that we previously found to be a chore.

Here are three things you can do to supercharge excitement and watch your learners fall in love with eLearning:

1. Make it personal

Are you creating eLearning for faceless learners, or are you creating a learning experience that will be unique for each and every person lucky enough to enrol on your course? You know what the answer should be, whether you’re doing it right now or not.

When you make learning personal you make it memorable, easier to understand and more simple to apply to your daily working life. Here are two ways you can make eLearning personal:

  1. Use the learner’s name: doing this gives the impression that the eLearning is made specifically for them. By using their name throughout the course, you’ll bring the learner back into the present to focus completely on what they’re learning. It is their eLearning module, after all.
  2. Ask the learner to apply their experiences to the course: when learners have to input data directly into the module, they’ll reach a deeper level of understanding. The learning won’t be full of theoretical, abstract concepts – it’ll be information that learners will be able to apply to their daily lives. They’ll discover how to cope in situations they might actually encounter, and learn how best to deal with colleagues that they find difficult. It makes the eLearning much more valuable. Let them download a print-off of all their inputs and workings at the end of the eLearning and they’ll be able to jump right in and apply their newfound knowledge at work!

2. Make it fun

Gamification is the latest buzzword in L&D. It is the application of gaming mechanics and metaphors (like badges, points, progress bars and leaderboards) to non-gaming scenarios – like eLearning modules!

Gamification tackles the problem that all eLearning courses face: boredom and lack of learner engagement. If an employee or learner is not engaged, they won’t be in the right frame of mind to learn and retain information.

It is found that when gamification is embedded within eLearning units and Learning Management Systems, learner engagement increases. For instance, gamification of Deloitte Leadership Academy triggered a massive 46.6% increase in the number of learners returning to the LMS daily.

Gamification lets you put the fun back into learning. It gets learners pumped, motivated, engaged and happy. You can find out more about how gamification will delight and excite your learners by reading one of my previous articles.

3. Make it obvious

If learners don’t know what it is they’re striving for, how will they know when they are there? Likewise, if they don’t know how long their eLearning module is, will they be able to complete it in time? Your learners are busy people – if they need to find time within their schedule for completing eLearning modules and associated assignments, it’s vital that they know what is required of them and how many hours of work they need to put in.

Therefore it’s a great idea to set achievable, measurable learning objectives and align these to clear learning pathways.

When your path is clear and you can see the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, you’ll find the journey more enjoyable. And besides, without an end point, the journey is meaningless.

Fall In Love With eLearning: Man leading other menWith gamification, creating these clear development pathways is simple: align the learning objectives to ‘Levels’. When learners embark on their learning journey, they enter into the first ‘Level’. This could be called something relating to their job role, their career trajectory, company values or whatever else the Learning Management System admin wants to call the Levels.

Some examples could be:

  • Mouse > Cat > Dog > Bear > Elephant
  • Beginner > Intermediate > Advanced > Pro > Superhero
  • Spring > Summer > Autumn > Winter
  • 1 > 2 > 3 > 4 > 5

Fall In Love With eLearning: Cat jumpingWhen a learner – say, a Mouse – starts going through eLearning modules, answering questions and interacting with and exploring the LMS, they’ll start gaining points and badges. Their Progress Bar will show them how far they have progressed through the Level, and how much more they need to do before they reach 100%. Once the learner has gained enough points (and learnt enough) they will progress through the Level to reach the next stage – they’ll become a Cat!

Progressing to the Cat level also unlocks new content which allows the learner to improve their knowledge in line with their career progression requirements – a Trainee at a retail company won’t have access to store management eLearning modules, although an Assistant Manager may, through hard work and dedication, ‘unlock’ them. This opens the door to the AM progressing to a Store Manager role.

So you see, when a learner falls in love with their eLearning, they are motivated, engaged, eager to learn and happy to commit to learning. This, in turn, should mean that they:

  • Are more productive
  • Spend more time on the LMS and on eLearning
  • Log on and access eLearning modules more often
  • Share the love: recommend the eLearning modules and online learning in general to colleagues
  • Encourage others
  • Share knowledge: they’re more eager to help others develop their skills
  • Interact more on the LMS – post comments, ‘Like’ posts, share their badges and achievements on social media
  • Upload more content
  • Rate the eLearning and their LMS more favourably
  • Love their eLearning and are willing to shout it from the rooftops!
  • Learn more and become more successful, saving the company money

*these are all things we've discovered and witnessed over the
years that we've been dedicated to learner engagement.

Clearly, making the effort to personalize eLearning, add gamification functionality to modules and the Learning Management System itself, and define clear progress pathways for learners is a smart move – one that all content creators and Learning Technologies companies should consider.

Ask yourself: are your learners in love with their eLearning?

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