How To Use Social Learning And Epic Meaning To Succeed With Gamification

How To Succeed With Gamification By Including Social Learning And Epic Meaning In Your Learning Strategy

Since its inception in 2001, gamification has been a hot topic. The debate rages on, even today. Is gamification a useful engagement hack, or is it just another distraction from deeper questions of user engagement?

The answer is, both are true – that is, if you’re only looking at gamification in isolation. Creating a successful gamified experience that motivates the users is about much more than adding badge here and assigning experience points there. Gamification needs to be fun, and game mechanics won’t work on a system that’s fundamentally dull. For real success, you need to implement gamification as part of a cohesive engagement strategy.

To create the ideal engagement strategy, you need 2 more elements besides gamification. Your strategy needs to include a social element and it needs to be filled with epic meaning. Let’s take a look at how gamification interacts with these 2 elements:

Gamification Relationship With Social Learning

Single-player games work well on the principle that the player wants to conquer the game, or beat their high score. Though this is a strong driver, it’s not always the right one for a gamified training experience. Corporate training is all about learning how to be a productive member of a team, so that the team can lead the organization.

1. Winning

Succeeding at something is always more satisfying when you beat somebody else. No matter how magnanimous you think you are, you’ll always get a thrill out of toppling your rivals! Once you combine gamification and social elements, your learners can compete against each other. This can be anything from a single trivia battle to a long-term learner league.

2. Shouting About Success

What good are all those badges if nobody can see how many you’ve earned? Social learning takes that success and shares it with everyone. Combining gamification and social functionality lets every learner see a running feed of who is gaining new skills. This engages everyone else – when they see a colleague earning a new skill, they feel motivated to reach the same level.

3. Rewarding Social Activity

It’s easy to tell your learners about the benefits of sharing organizational knowledge. If you can train them and encourage a knowledge sharing culture, the results are more effective and long-lasting. Gamification lets you reward your learners for exhibiting that kind of behavior. In this way, the instruction is more subconscious – rather than telling them to behave in a certain way, this lets you make them think it was their idea!

4. Advertising Status

You can lose hours of your life trying to gain the highest level of capability in a particular skill. With many games, a key ingredient in this motivation is being able to earn a visible status. Once you earn it, everyone can see it and you can confirm your reputation as the master. On a gamified social learning platform, your learners can rise to become Subject Matter Experts and help lead the training program.

Gamification Relationship With Epic Meaning

Even coupling your gamification with social functionality isn’t enough to succeed. There’s one more element you need to encourage real behavior change. Epic Meaning is that feeling you get when you contribute to something bigger than yourself. When you understand the true meaning of your actions, you’re better able to put those actions into context.

Learning of any sort requires meaning. If you don’t know why you’re learning, or how you can apply what you’ve learned, your brain will disregard the information in favor of something else that’s directly relevant to you. Here’s how and engaging LMS uses Epic Meaning to make gamification more effective:

1. Customizable Features

Don’t think of your LMS as a tool for delivering content. If you do, that’s all it will ever be, and nobody is interested in an online repository of training material. Instead, think of it as a learning environment, and just like any environment, you should be able to decorate it with the target audience in mind.

2. Overarching Narrative

Gamification is about sending the player on a journey, at the end of which they become a more awesome version of their former selves. You should know what that journey looks like, and your platform should let you tell the story in your own words. It should also give you the flexibility to tell more than one story at a time. Customized learning pathways let you create as many stories as you need to, ensuring that everyone is on the journey that means something to them.

3. Your Brand

Once you’ve got the right environment and a compelling story, your need to make sure you’re using every tool in your kit. Your brand is a condensed form of everything your company stands for. Simple things like a color palette or the right choice of font make a difference. Earning company-branded badges on a company-branded platform tells the learners that their efforts are endorsed by a higher authority. Somebody went to the effort of creating that reward, specifically for its designated purpose.

4. Making The Learner A Hero

These points amount to one thing: making the learner feel like they’re the hero in their own learning saga. If you forget all the other points, make sure this is the one you remember! Learners won’t change their behavior just because you told them that they should. They’ll do it only because they want to, because it feels good. Nothing feels quite as amazing as doing your bit for the greater good. You can give your badges extra meaning by letting managers award special praise badges. This gives the learner recognition for something specific and congratulates them in public for their heroic deeds!

Final Word

When gamification first hit the headlines, everybody jumped in hoping that game mechanics would be the answer to their prayers. Unfortunately, lots of these initiatives backfired, simply because there wasn’t a full engagement plan in place.

Like so many things, learner engagement isn’t just a button you can press or a knob you can turn up to eleven. There are a lot of moving parts and the only way you can succeed is to get every stage right along the way. Once you cover all the angles, your LMS won’t be a learning platform anymore – it’s become a thriving, buzzing learning community!

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