Making Gamification Work For Workforce Training: Factors That Make A Difference

Making Gamification Work For Workforce Training: Factors That Make A Difference
Summary: Gamification can be used in several different contexts but for incorporating game elements into workplace training and learning, the most crucial is the task of integration activities and exercises within the game design.

Factors That Make A Difference In Making Gamification Work For Workforce Training

In a classroom, the idea of using games for learning is neither new, nor novel. Teachers and instructors employ games as a way of engaging learners and increasing interest. While this may be true for classroom learning, for technology-aided teaching and learning, gamification of the eLearning process is a new methodology, which is still being explored. By definition, gamification is the use of game mechanics for non-game applications. In theory, any application —a task, a process, or context— can be gamified. The main goal of gamification is to increase user engagement by using game-like techniques, such as scoreboards, awards, and points. This makes learners feel more involved and purposeful when taking on the tasks of the gamified learning environment. But what does it take for making gamification work for workforce training?

Incorporating Game Elements Into Workplace Learning

Gamification can be used in several different contexts, but for incorporating game elements into workplace training and learning, the most crucial is the task of integrating activities and exercises within the game design. Creating learning games from scratch for the purpose of workplace training is an expensive proposition and entails a large number of resources. A simpler, yet more efficient, approach is to use gamification to make content more attractive and engage users. By using gamification in eLearning, we can encourage more-efficient and engaging learning behavior. To change or encourage a particular behavior, the learner needs to be motivated and, at the same time, have the ability to solve challenges.

Though gamification also implies a social connection and interaction with other participants, the limitation of eLearning is that it cannot transmit emotion nor engage students as an instructor can.

For this lack of feeling or emotional interaction, an eLearning system must compensate and try to stimulate learners with other means. This can be achieved by adopting the three elements that help generate a specific behavior: Motivation, ability, and triggers. For effective learning, the learner must be motivated, capable, and have the trigger to accomplish a desired action or display a target behavior. Motivation can be driven by the feelings of pleasure or pain, hope or fear, and social acceptance or rejection.

For instance, learners might not be suitably driven to complete an eLearning course, but if their social reputation is at stake or they are conscious of the fact that they might get a smaller grade than their peers, the motivation to excel will definitely increase. Ability is also a factor that influences the occurrence of a behavior. Even if a person is highly motivated, a behavior cannot occur if that person does not have the ability. On the other hand, high motivation can encourage a subject to find the means to accomplish a task, gaining ability. Sometimes, specific behavior needs a trigger — a call to action. Triggers are connected to motivation. When learners have both ability and motivation, triggers function as a reminder.

Gamification elements can be inserted, in addition to the learning content, to increase engagement for all learner types.

  • Learners can edit their personal profile, known as avatar, and customize it according to their preferences. They can select their preferences and courses followed and passed, focusing on positive results. A group of learners can have similar avatars and have access to an activity feed where notifications, news, and updates are received.
  • An eCourse is divided into main chapters or sections. By applying the cascading information principle, the course is divided into smallest bits of coherent content that is synthetic, but offers links to more detailed information (links, graphics, and so on). The course content is followed by exercises and an evaluation step. By doing the exercises at the end of each section, the learner accumulates points. At the end of each chapter, the learner advances a level, which is a valuable achievement. This has a direct effect on his or her status. A relative positioning between his or her peers can be presented, as well as the top scores, on a leaderboard.
  • The learners are constantly offered feedback and are informed of their progression within the course through the use of progression bars.
  • The courses offer the ability to create periodical physical or virtual appointments or curfews and deadlines to motivate the learners to return periodically to the learning environment.
  • The system should simulate the familiar environment of a classroom, which is important for learners who need peer recognition. Peer pressure and comparisons also motivate learners. Report cards are also shared from time to time.
  • For accomplishing difficult tasks or exercises, the learners receive special bonuses.
  • By offering badges, the system compensates learners not only for their academic achievements but also for appropriate behavior and social engagement, such as helping peers, commenting, and adding value to the application.
  • The points or badges can be converted into virtual goods or discounts. This motivates learners to engage more with the application and earn extra points to benefit from these advantages.
  • While advancing within the course, the learners are informed of the next step so that they know what to expect. Anticipation is a strong motivator that can get the learners excited and engaged for a longer period of time and maintain the flow of learning.

In conclusion, gamification is a way to make learning more interesting and engaging, without undermining its credibility. Gamification helps employees gain motivation for learning in the workplace. It is a successful methodology of workplace training because it gives a powerful boost to learn more and achieve more.