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Low-Cost Gamification For Adult Learners

Gamification is the process of changing the dynamics of any activity by incorporating several game elements. This technique has gained popularity in various fields because of its effectiveness in increasing productivity, speed, and learning. The field of eLearning also tapped into the use of gamification to enhance the efficacy of eLearning courses and materials. However, not all companies have extra money to spend on gamification features, which can get very expensive. In this article, I will discuss some ways Instructional Designers can use low-cost gamification for their eLearning courses.
Low-Cost Gamification For Adult Learners

7 Tips On Low-Cost Gamification For Adult Learners 

Many people think that eLearning gamification means incorporating actual games in virtual courses. Although games do complete the gamification process, eLearning gamification isn’t limited to including actual games. In fact, gamification of any activity only needs to include the crucial game elements that actually target the skills discussed in the specific course. Game elements include:

  • Levels of progress.
  • Virtual points.
  • Rewards.
  • Avatars.
  • Narratives.
  • Competitions.

The game elements mentioned above encourage adult learners to utilize their skills in solving a problem. Unlike traditional eLearning techniques, eLearning gamification transforms the learner from a passive absorber of information to an active participant in creating strategic solutions. Gamification increases engagement and motivates learner to think out-of-the box.

As eLearning gamification slowly becomes an industry on its own, many vendors are now providing advanced gamification services. Vendors offer intricate eLearning module designs, integration to various communication software (Skype, chatrooms, etc.), and even personalized cloud-based storage for users. Needless to say, many third-party vendors capitalize on their advanced programming know-how to provide gamification services that cost way more than what one spends on traditional eLearning.

However, the truth is that eLearning gamification doesn’t have to be costly. By keeping the basic principles behind gamification in mind, one can gamify eLearning without having to spend too much money. Here are some of the best low-cost gamification strategies:

  1. Simple over sophisticated user interface (UI).
    Many vendors who offer expensive gamification services often have extremely sophisticated UIs. Remember, while a good-looking UI is good, it is not the primary concern for learners. To avoid spending more than necessary, it is best to stick to simple, easy to use UIs. A heavy and complicated visual design can cause distraction. By choosing to use user-friendly UIs, you can cut the cost by up to 50% without compromising the effectiveness of your materials. Streamlined UIs also tend to be simpler on the administrator side.
  2. Features.
    Another misconception about low-cost gamification vendors is that they do not provide quality features. There is absolutely no truth in that. When it comes to features, uniqueness, and usability are more important than quantity. One does not need multiple features that serve the same purpose. Instead, focus on getting one unique feature that is highly effective and versatile. For example, separate features for chat and voice communication can slow the system down. It is better to get a single instant messaging feature that allows efficient and fast P2P sharing.
  3. Social media integration over mobile integration.
    One of the most brilliant solutions to low-cost gamification, social media integration, provides an alternate UI for learning. Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites allow maximum user interaction. Some of these sites also allow file sharing and video calls to save storage. The best part about social media integration is that even those Instructional Designers who aren’t too tech-savvy can easily integrate various social media platforms themselves. Mobile integration can be costly; thus, one way to channel announcements, leaderboards, bulletins, etc., is through social media – which is already mobile-integrated.
  4. Self-help guides over live/video training.
    Think carefully whether you truly need to have live training or use up precious storage space through video tutorials. In many instances, the same content can be easily delivered through infographic guides and FAQ pages.
  5. Scheduled versus real-time performance analysis.
    Performance analysis is a standard feature provided by many vendors. What sets expensive vendors apart is that some of them have real-time performance analysis systems that allow users to check their progress immediately after completing tasks. While, instant feedback is important in eLearning, it may get costly. Scheduled (daily, weekly, or monthly) and real-time performance reports are much cheaper and equally appreciated by the learners.
  6. Design your own assessment tools.
    Many people who are new to eLearning often think that the content is the only major thing that determines cost of their eLearning product. However, that’s not always the case. Some vendors actually charge additional payment just for formulating and implementing assessment tools. To avoid spending more money than necessary, consider developing challenging assessments yourself.
  7. Be strict with standard features.
    Standard features include curriculum paths, batch uploads, reports, and calendars. When going for low-cost gamification, it is best to ensure that the standards are well-delivered and without compromise. Focus on a few highly-efficient features that really add value to learning – not on the UI’s appearance.

eLearning gamification is growing fast, which allows many small players to create more affordable but equally effective solutions. As you can see, one does not have to get an expensive UI with a multitude of features and services, because in truth, not everything contributes to learning and, if your content changes frequently, investing in expensive features is not a smart decision anyway.

If you want more information about gamification, or if you want to learn how to design instructionally sound eLearning courses, please check out the Instructional Design for eLearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book. This book is also available in Spanish.

 
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