Far from just another buzzword, gamification has quickly emerged as one of the most effective techniques in engaging learners and improving performance outcomes for eLearning courses. Despite the visions of button-mashing and Noob Classification Avoidance Strategies its name conjures up, good gamification design is about more than just… well, playing games.
Described by critically acclaimed knowledge guru, Wikipedia, as ‘the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems’, gamification is about using game elements to make practical activities appealing, effective and engaging. Effective gamification in an eLearning course will appeal not only to the logical side of our human brains but to the reward-motivated, nit-picking (pun intended) side of our ever-suppressed monkey brains. To do so, it will need to be learner-centred, useful for real-life scenarios, and focused on effective content and design – not just flash technology. As enticing as the idea of a fully-integrated game of Space Invaders in your eLearning course may seem, if it doesn’t succeed in immersing your learners in the training materials you will be left with a cost-intensive exercise which disengages and disenchants your staff.
In short, gamification is the delicate mix of interactivity, engagement and immersion that leads to good learning. Now, let’s look at some of the facts.
According to a study by Talent LMS, over 75% of people would describe themselves as ‘gamers’. Another study by the Federation of American Scientists found that learners recall just 10% of what they read and 20% of what they hear. If there are visuals accompanying an oral presentation, the number rises to 30%, and if they observe someone carrying out an action while explaining it, 50%. However, this study found that learners remember 90% of the provided information “if they do the job themselves, even if only as a simulation”.
Unsurprisingly, a touch of hypothetical maths using these statistics results in the finding that almost 80% of the learners say that they would be more productive if their university/institution or work was more game-like (according to the previously mentioned Talent LMS survey).
By utilising any number of the wide range of gamification elements available throughout your eLearning course, from competitions and gifts to interactive narratives and performance feedback, you will leverage your learner’s natural desire for ‘socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, or closure (according to Andreas Liebroth, PhD Assistant Professor at the Danish School of Education). By including gamification in your eLearning course design, you can take advantage of your learner’s psychological predisposition towards game elements to create engagement and achieve desired learning outcomes.
By combining a level of fun with the more serious learning objectives of your eLearning course, you are able to create a more accessible learning environment. This type of informal, appealing environment will not only assist your learners in understanding and implementing practical knowledge in a safe environment but also facilitate increased knowledge retention. Engage the monkey brain, teach the human brain.
Prompt and Maintain Behavioural Change
As previously mentioned, gamification allows you to capitalise on the human psychological predisposition towards game elements, as well as the natural desire to learn through socialisation and a bit of healthy competition. By combining these game elements with such learning techniques as spaced repetition and instant feedback, surface-level learning can be broken to create ongoing behavioural change and long-term retention.
Widely Applicable to any Bottom Line
No one-trick pony, gamification is a design concept so accessible that it can be applied to virtually any training module. From induction and product sales to safety training and compliance, practical and engaging game elements can be used to relay diverse knowledge and fulfil most learning needs. With the above facts in mind, it’s no surprise that gamification has made a name for itself in the eLearning industry. By reaching and impacting your learners intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically, gamification can be used by any organisation to achieve learning objectives but create significant overall performance gain.
More than just scoreboards and a professional level of virtual pew pew-ing, gamification utilises intrinsic motivating factors to engage and effectively teach your learners. While there is no doubt that it is an excellent tool in any eLearning course design, however, it’s crucial that any game elements or techniques align with your organisation’s training goals and needs – lest you be left with expensive and ineffective online training, albeit engaging.
When it comes to eLearning, there’s no one size fits all. A needs identification and analysis process, such as VMP eLearning’s Training Needs Analysis program, helps to identify your organisational objectives and understand the needs of your target learners. Once these integral aspects of your eLearning course design are clear, you will be able to integrate gamification effectively – boosting both engagement and retention.
To discuss how to tailor a gamified eLearning program to your organisation’s needs, or to chat about the most appropriate possible eLearning or Blended Learning solution for your learners, please get in touch with us at VMP eLearning.
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