Thought Leader Q&A: Talking Gamification Strategies And Learning Platform Essentials With Jamal Watkins

Jamal Watkins : Thought Leader Q&A With eLearning Industry
Summary: eLearning thought leader Jamal Watkins speaks with us about LMS misconceptions, gamification design, and leveraging learning data.

Thoughts On LMS Myths And Gamification Must-Haves With Jamal Watkins

Jamal Watkins has been a Learning and Development practitioner and leader for over two decades. During this time, he has become adept at influencing business processing by driving business results through the use of blended learning and human capital management. His professional journey continues to lead him to opportunities to partner with key stakeholders that influence employees/customers toward achieving business goals. Today, he discusses two of his professional passions with us: learning management platforms and gamification strategies.

As the Lead Learning Evangelist for Adobe Learning Manager, what do you think is the most common myth or misconception that prevents organizations from fully leveraging advanced learning platforms to address their current pain points?

A common myth that I often encounter is whether a learning platform can accommodate external users and external content. Adobe Learning Manager effectively manages both external users and external courses. To start, we’ll discuss external users. Many organizations are still contemplating how to effectively manage their customers, channel partners, and franchisees. All of which can be considered external users. The opportunity to introduce a fully integrated learning strategy for customers, partners, and franchisees is now. Unfortunately, too often these opportunities are missed due to a lack of ownership. The lack of clarity on who owns the learning experiences for these areas can lead to a lack of action. Or, in the worst case, a complete disregard for enhancing the learning experience for these categories of learners can be a missed opportunity for many organizations. You should actively search for a solution that can support the import of external learning records and external learner profile data. The solution should also allow the ability to send a unique self-registration link to external learners which they can use to create a learner profile.

Now we’ll shift our focus to managing external course content. There is often a misconception that the content needs to be stored natively within the learning platform. There are two effective approaches to addressing this issue. It is a rather straightforward approach in which you can publish course content in an AICC format. Using this approach, the LMS hosts the shell files about the course metadata while the course content is stored on an external content server or third-party provider. The second approach is to leverage xAPI. xAPI is a newer standard that integrates the technology that learners are likely to use. More than half of learners use mobile devices to access course content. The xAPI standard allows organizations to effectively track, store, and share learning experiences across various platforms.

One of your areas of expertise is eLearning gamification. Can you offer our readers a few words of advice on how to make a strong business case for gamification? What are the essential features they should look for in a tool to successfully implement it?

Gamification is a widely popular approach to making learning more engaging. It includes introducing game design elements into the learning experience. A few words of advice when implementing an effective gamification approach are the following—consistency, credibility, and continuity. Ensure that the elements such as points, badges, and catalog are updated consistently. Badges that no longer apply or an outdated catalog can lessen the credibility of the learning program.

Additionally, in an effort to continue to motivate the learner, be sure to include elements that include:

  • Action (e.g., objectives)
  • Social (e.g., competition)
  • Mastery (e.g., scoring)
  • Achievement (e.g., awards)
  • Immersion (e.g., role-plays)
  • Creativity (e.g., customization)

Based on your personal experience, what is the most significant pitfall that organizations should avoid when launching a gamification strategy? Are there a few quintessential gamification traits they should know about in order to enact meaningful behavioral change and boost learner engagement?

An opportunity for many organizations while attempting to leverage gamification components is to develop a more prescription-based approach to learning. The more data you can collect during the learning experience, the greater the opportunity to prescribe a meaningful plan for the learner. A learning platform that has successfully integrated data collections of gamification features is a great way to establish a solid gamification learning foundation. Organizations that have struggled with implementing an effective gamification strategy have suffered from the ability to track and quantify learner activities and results. The inability to track this data makes it difficult to reuse this information when prescribing learning paths.

In a study in late 2021 with Sales Enablement Society members, enablement leaders were asked to weigh in on gamification strategies, and “only 4% deployed game mechanics to support Learning and Development activities.”

This ability by an organization to prove that gamification data is being used to create a personalized learning experience can alter behaviors by encouraging learners to increase engagement. This increased engagement can impact career development, improved compliance, increased individual performance, higher retention, improved customer satisfaction, etc.

Is there a recent development project, product launch, or upcoming event our readers should know about?

Adobe Learning Summit is all about making a real difference in the world of enterprise learning. This is a three-day event orchestrated by global leaders and industry experts who will fuel conversation around redefining learning experiences. Take advantage of an opportunity to network with other L&D and talent professionals.

Wrapping Up

We’d like to extend our gratitude to Jamal Watkins for participating in our thought leader Q&A and sharing his expertise with our community. If you’d like to learn more about Adobe Learning Manager, you can find their articles, eBooks, and webinars here.