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Gamification: How to Delight and Excite Learners

When was the last time you actually enjoyed learning?

Just think for a moment: think about a particular time when you were passionate about learning something, truly motivated, engaged and enthusiastic; a time when your training made you smile; when you could visualize just how the training would benefit you and your life and you couldn’t wait to work your way through it.

Are you struggling to think of anything? You’re not alone.

Too often, training is staid, boring, tedious and, simply put, awful! But learning new things shouldn’t be like having teeth pulled – it should be a joyous experience, not a punishment. There’s no good reason that training needs to be mind-numbingly dull these days. Here’s why…

Technology rocks

There are so many ways to make learning enjoyable and captivating, if organizations would only be receptive to them! Don’t accept dull: you can use gamification to make learning more fun and delight and excite learners.

Gamification is the application of gaming mechanics and metaphors to non-gaming scenarios to make difficult tasks more palatable. In practice, this means awarding badges when learners complete learning modules, handing out points for getting questions right and accruing points to graduate from one ‘level’ to the next and climb up a leaderboard.

Of course, there are different kinds of gamification when it comes to learning…

Content Gamification

Gamification within the eLearning module itself – e.g. when points are awarded for correct answers – is known as ‘content’ gamification. It’s incredibly effective for capturing learners’ attention and keeping them focused on the content they’re meant to be learning.

Structural Gamification

This is when the Learning Management System is gamified with leaderboards, points are awarded for interacting with other learners and badges gained for exploring the LMS and doing things such as changing profile pictures and sharing content. Structural gamification is great for encouraging learners to continue their learning journey after the ‘formal’ training (i.e. eLearning module) is over. This is important because, as I mentioned in a previous article on how a culture of empowerment will secure return on investment, only 10% of our learning is actually gained through formal training – 20% comes from observing and interacting with others and 70% we learn ‘on the job’.

Let’s meet some typical learners to find out how structural gamification works and why it engages learners:

Girl in love at deskLucy Learner has been enjoying her online learning for a few months now. She’s completed a few eLearning modules, gained four badges, levelled up from Sales Seed to Sales Sapling and she’s even entered the top 5 on the leaderboard!

The last time she was on her Learning Management System she asked her fellow learners a few questions about closing sales, as she’s been struggling to implement what she learnt in the corresponding eLearning unit (which she got the Clever Closing badge for completing!).
Today she decides to see if anyone has replied to her queries, so she logs on to her LMS and navigates to the communication area.

Well look at that! She has seven replies to her questions, all offering really helpful advice. She reads the comments, ‘Likes’ the best and, armed with a better understanding of closing sales, goes on to close three new accounts that week alone. Score!

Sammy Student loves his Learning Management System. No, really: he logs on almost every day and is passionate about sharing his ideas and advising other learners. He’s a member of four communication topic areas (let’s call them ‘Insights’ areas) and makes an effort to share what he knows about each topic with his fellow learners.

Every time he contributes something – posts a link, uploads an article or shares his thoughts – he gains some points. They all add up and contribute to his overall standing on each ‘Top Contributors’ leaderboard.

In fact, he’s added so much to group discussions, answered so many questions and shared so many useful links and documents that he’s just been crowned the Top Contributor of the Closing Sales Insight area! What an achievement – it’s fantastic to be seen as an expert after all his hard work helping others. What a star!

Gamification creates engagement

Can you see how gamification helps to engage learners in their informal, social learning journey? Rewarding learners for contributing to discussions encourages them to share their knowledge, which helps to boost the skills of all the learners. It’s really quite fantastic what can be done with gamification!

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