To Game Or Not To Game: 6 Ways To Incorporate Gamification Into Mobile Learning

To Game Or Not To Game: 6 Ways To Incorporate Gamification Into Mobile Learning
Summary: There are so many great reasons to incorporate gamification in your learning projects. In this article, we explore the six required elements of a successful mobile learning game, starting with an easy plan to execute it and some tips for including your team on decisions about the game dynamics.

How To Incorporate Gamification Into Mobile Learning

Play is the highest form of research” - Albert Einstein

The two activities of learning and playing become deeply connected during our early childhood and this relationship remains close throughout our whole lives. There are many great reasons to incorporate the intrigue, positive emotions and social aspects of gamification into training and the following are simple tips to get you started.

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is simply the process of adding elements and techniques of game design to an otherwise non-game setting such as a training project.

Learning sticks best when it is fun and exciting. There is ample evidence to show that gamification is an excellent way to help your learners engage with course material which also makes information easier for them to retain.

When you incorporate game aspects into your training, the learning environment becomes more informal and your learners are less likely to be anxious and more likely to be responsive when interacting with course material. Combining gamification with mobile learning means that potentially complicated concepts can be simplified into bite-sized chunks of digestible content.

Gamified lessons are frequently considered more accessible, achievable, and fun. Well planned game-based learning can also offer learners instant feedback on their progress, which instills a sense of accomplishment and motivates them to become self-directed in their learning.

Tips On How To Incorporate Gamification Into Mobile Learning

Here are some steps to incorporate gamification into mobile learning and achieve a great gamified learning project.

1. Outline The Project’s Structure And Time Frame

Investing the time up front to plan is essential for success. Try to keep your first gamified learning project quite short. An optimal time frame could be to plan the project for 1 week, deploy the mobile learning for 2 weeks, and measure the results for 1 week.  By the time you deliver your report you will have achieved a one month trial of gamification. By creating the game-based course outline, timeline, measurements, plan, announcements, and collection of any physical or digital assets required to run the game/course, you will set the stage for a winning project.

2. Choose Some Game Components

It is important to decide on your game components early in your planning stages. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Time - will it be a race to the finish?  Or can points be assigned for longer learning?  There are many ways to incorporate time within the game, including adding up people’s times in pairs and seeing if they can spend exactly one hour on task with combined times.
  • Learning goals - achieving specific goals can each result in a game reward, or combine goals together in interesting ways to create “quests” for your learners either alone or in teams.
  • Teams - does the game support only individual players or can people be grouped in teams?  Since games are highly associated with social aspects of learning, it’s often a good idea to include team grouping for gamified learning projects.
  • Rewards - this essential game component requires thought and attention.  It is important to choose rewards that resonate with your whole team so you might consider surveying them regarding rewards that are particularly motivating.

3. Untether Your Learners From The Classroom

Learners do not find games fun if they are forced to sit in a lecture or watch long videos. Use the game approach to take learning out of the classroom. If you are delivering the learning on mobile, make sure to break your course into smaller pieces and consider making use of team learning and blended learning techniques. This gamified microlearning approach promotes an accelerated and self-directed atmosphere for learners.

4. Design With Self-Directed Learning In Mind

Self-directed learning is crucial, and in many ways, fundamental to gamification; players navigate digital environments and learn based on the decisions they make. One way to achieve self-directed learning is to design game components to require minimal human resources for course implementation and gamified distribution. Another is to choose an all-inclusive Learning Management System for mobile learning like the Practi LMS which does the heavy lifting for you. Such “mobile first” software can help you easily sign up learners, direct and facilitate learning, and leave you free with more time to design and manage your game elements. When your learners are self-directed, you have more time to do things like tweet results, share reward clues, and add other social aspects to increase learner engagement during the project.

5. Utilize Feedback, Rewards, And Prizes

Feedback is a core element of learning and one that often exists in games through scoring systems, leaderboards and notifications. Feedback through scoring creates an exciting element of competition among learners, and scores can also be analyzed by management to evaluate learner progress, motivation and engagement. Be sure to choose a delivery system like Practi that offers points and in-app rewards to support your game components.

6. Report On Outcomes From Game-Based Learning

Your final report should outline how to continue to use game-based approaches to increase engagement and outcomes for training. It should also outline suggestions for making the best use of evidence-based approaches to blending technology and gamification for training.

Be sure to include the planning for your report within your project timeline.  Once you have announced end of game, tallied scores, and prepared a distribution of prizes and rewards, you can consider your “end of game” complete which means it is time for some follow up surveys.

When surveying about the project, include opportunities for your learners to give  suggestions for future topics, projects, areas and alterations to the project.  Consider hosting a “brown bag seminar” for managers and team members to gather as much information as possible about the effectiveness of each of your game components.

Creating the report is an essential part of continuing to incorporate games in your learning projects.  Remember that reporting is used for the same reason that people incorporate games: To increase learner motivation and engagement. When you plan, execute and measure the success of a gamified learning project, you can begin to track whether and how you are having an impact on learner motivation.

Learner motivation is as important and essential a goal as learner achievement. If you are able to incorporate quality game features into your mobile learning projects, then you can measure and improve on the success of these game additions and you are well on your way to optimizing your training cycles.

Final Word

Games and learning are a natural fit. If you plan your gamified mobile learning project carefully, choose game components that suit both your topic and your team, execute with an accent on having a fun and social experience, and use software like Practi to help you measure as you go, you will soon understand why gamification is becoming an increasingly popular way to deliver effective and enjoyable training.