A 7-Step Instructional Design Guide For eLearning Gamification

A 7-Step Instructional Design Guide For eLearning Gamification
Summary: eLearning badges, leaderboards, points, and leveling up can be powerful motivators for your online learners. In this article, I’ll offer a 7-step guide that Instructional Designers can use to gamify the eLearning experiences they design for their audience without losing sight of the subject matter.

eLearning Gamification: A 7-Step Guide For Instructional Designers

A good portion of the world's population plays games on a regular basis. Whatever shape they take, games appeal to our competitive nature. This is what makes them such an influential tool in eLearning. eLearning gamification gives your audience the chance to earn while they learn and surpass their peers. But how can Instructional Designers create meaningful and motivational eLearning courses that rely on game mechanics? Here's a 7-step look at how you can do just that.

1. Define Your Goals And Learning Objectives

The first step in the eLearning gamification process is to identify your primary goals and learning objectives. What do your online learners need to learn during their eLearning gamification experience? Are there specific skills they need to hone or tasks they must explore? All of the game mechanics you include should support these core learning objectives. Thus, you must have a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish and how the eLearning gamification elements are going to help you achieve this. Meet with your eLearning team to discuss the topics you're going to cover, the challenges online learners must overcome, and how you are going to measure online learner progress.

2. Develop A Detailed Outline

Once you've identified your goals, it's time to create a step-by-step road map of your eLearning gamification strategy. This may come in the form of an eLearning storyboard, sketches, or a detailed outline that highlights all of the main points. Determine which subject matter you are going to include and how you are to convey the information, as well as the sequencing of your learning materials. For example, the first section of your outline will stress the goals and real-world benefits, the next will consist of an eLearning pre-assessment, and the proceeding section transitions into an interactive online presentation with game mechanics.

3. Choose The Ideal eLearning Activities And Assessments

eLearning gamification elements are typically most effective when they're framed by an eLearning activity, such as an eLearning simulation or a branching scenario. For example, every time an online learner chooses the correct decision path, they are awarded points or receive an eLearning badge once they successfully complete the eLearning simulation. eLearning assessments are also an essential ingredient, due to the fact that they gauge online learners' proficiency and progress. The number of "awards" they achieve can tell you a bit about how they are performing, but eLearning assessments give you a complete picture of their strengths and performance gaps.

4. Gather Your Assets

In order to create amazing eLearning gamification experiences you must have the right tools on hand. Take inventory of the eLearning authoring tools you currently have and then do some research to find additional software that you may need to integrate game mechanics. Many eLearning authoring tools now feature gamification elements, such as eLearning templates, as well as asset libraries. This is also the ideal time to gather any existing online training materials that you may be able to repurpose, such as text-based eLearning modules that you can transform into an interactive branching scenario.

5. Select The Best Gameplay Approach

This is actually a two-step process. First you must identify which game mechanics you are going to integrate, then you'll have to decide how you want to structure your gameplay. There are a wide range of eLearning gamification elements to choose from, including eLearning badges, points, leaderboards, certificates, and unlockable eLearning content. It's important to find the mechanics that maximize online learner motivation without distracting them from the subject matter. As for the structure, you must decide whether your online learners will be going it alone or breaking off into teams. If you want a more collaborative and social experience you should opt for teams. However, self-guided online learners or those who prefer to go at their own pace might benefit from a solo eLearning gamification course.

6. Set The Scene

There must be a challenge, problem, or obstacle that online learners must overcome in order to achieve their reward. In most cases, emotionally-compelling storylines and conflicts increase online learner engagement and get them more involved in the eLearning process. Instead of simply trying to earn an eLearning badge or rack up points, they become invested in the eLearning gamification experience on a deeper level and must see it through to the end. Create a scene or situation that mimics real life, and then encourage online learners to come up with solutions to the problem in order to receive their reward. If you don't want to write an eLearning gamification story of your own, you can always rely on real-world examples or case studies that relate to the subject matter.

7. Measure Your Results

An eLearning gamification strategy is only successful if you can prove that is successful. This typically involves learner tracking, reporting, and on-the-job observations. Many Learning Management Systems now feature built-in analytics that allow you to monitor every aspect of your eLearning course, including the gamification elements. For example, you can determine how many eLearning badges each online learner has, how they are ranking on the leaderboard, or how many points they need to reach their target. All of this data can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your eLearning gamification strategy. If a vast majority of your online learners aren't motivated by earning eLearning badges, this will be reflected in the numbers. Then you can rethink your eLearning gamification approach and come up with more effective incentives. Measuring the results gives you the power to see what's working and what's not, as well as if you need to offer online learners additional support.

Companies all around the globe are reaping the benefits that eLearning gamification can bring. However, if they want to get the best ROI and maximize their productivity, they'll need the aid of an Instructional Designer who knows how to create amazing eLearning gamification experiences. Use this 7-step guide to be that Instructional Designer!

Also remember that the key to successful eLearning gamification is the right eLearning authoring tool. Ask for a free trial to ensure that your eLearning authoring tool of choice encompasses all the features you need to create a remarkable eLearning gamification experience for your online learners.

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