What does “Gamification” mean?
In last few years we’ve heard the word “Gamification” being used with different meanings in different fields, so a good starting point would be to clarify what this word means. Gamification doesn’t mean that your users will be playing videogames instead of learning. In the training industry Gamification means that users will be involved in a learning environment that leverages game theory and game mechanics. In other words this means that we will be adding a competitivity layer over the training material, in order to motivate students. You don’t need to be a learning expert to know that a motivated student performs better than an unmotivated (aka bored) learner, and also that that learner has a better chance to retain and use that knowledge.
To achieve this goal you can implement a gamification strategy that, if correctly used and planned, will help you to keep your learners engaged and interested.
Where do I start?
Let’s begin with the basics. The easiest way to motivate someone is to reward him/her for his/her efforts. That’s why creating badges and points is a good starting point for any gamification strategy. You will need to create badges tailored to your business and learning goals; it’s a very good practice to create tangible rewards that your users will be able to exchange for points. Using this technique will have a double benefit: increasing learner motivation and improving training efficiency and knowledge retention.
Does it really work?
Is Gamification always effective? It depends on the learning environment you’re able to create. If you manage to set up “positive competition”, supported by good technology, best practice and counselling, it will surely help you to reach your learning goals. On the other hand if a negative competitive environment is set up, this might cause problems amongst your students, turning the learning experience into an unpleasant experience - for example, in a negative competitive environment users might start paying more attention to badges than to learning for the sole purpose of “beating” their colleagues. If the competition becomes more important than the training activity then it defeats the purpose. Course designers must be aware and find ways to set up positive environments.
My suggestion is to set up a pilot project and see how your audience reacts to a competitive environment. Using a SaaS Cloud Learning Management System (LMS) will surely make this process faster and less painful. Recently Docebo released a Gamification App, so taking advantage of their 2-week free trial would certainly help you to understand if a Gamification strategy is suitable for your organization’s culture and learning strategy.