Gamification. It is the new buzzword in town and is disrupting the eLearning industry by using game mechanics and certain game-like elements to create stimulating learning solutions. These include practical day-to-day activities that keep the learners motivated and absorb more by ‘doing’.
The learner gets to experience fun elements during learning and when the gamification strategy includes high levels of engagement, it leads to increased recall and retention. Similarly, learners tend to learn better in an informal environment as opposed to a formal setting.
Therefore, it is no surprise to note that:
80% of learners believed that they would be able to perform better of their work was more game-like.
74% of learners believed that introducing a points system into their eLearning could engage them more.
Gamification can be tricky to pull off successfully. That being said, here are a few effective techniques to incorporate gamification in eLearning.
Define the Learning Objectives
First things first, a thorough needs analysis will be useful to zero-in on the specific learning objectives, the aim of the organization, and the desired results. For instance, organizations need to understand what are the particular behaviors that they want to promote, what are the skills the learners should acquire, what are the problems to be solved and so on. The answers to these questions would help form the basis of a robust gamification strategy. The values which the learners need to know should be kept as the basis. Once this is taken care of, organizations can work towards driving those through appropriate game-driven situations.
Select the Ideal Game Mechanics
The specific game mechanics chosen for the online training course design may well decide the fate of the eLearning course. This means that the game elements chosen for online training are crucial for the participation, completion, impact and so on. That’s why organizations should have a clear idea about what the learners would want and which game elements will aptly suit their needs. This will help ensure the success of the gamification strategy of the eLearning course.
Choose the Appropriate Authoring Tool
There are a variety of authoring tools that organizations can turn to for implementing gamification in eLearning. This could make it hard to select the appropriate one which matches an organization’s needs. Here are some factors to consider in reaching an informed decision:
The features and functionalities of the tool should be easy to use
It should, ideally, have a trial version
The skills and capabilities of the eLearning team
The learners’ needs
The supported formats based on the likely needs of the organization
The available budget
Adopt a Rewards-Based System
A rewards-based system can be integrated into the gamification strategy to increase the learner’s ‘skin in the game’. These can include points, achievement levels, badges, a progression tracker, and other methods of signaling and notification. As and when the players accomplish a certain task or competition, they could start earning the rewards and derive a sense of achievement. This can work quite well when firms make these rewards visible to each and every learner out there. They will be encouraged to compete against each other in a healthy manner and also, finish the courses on time.
Provide Clear Instructions
An important consideration is to develop clear criteria and offer lucid instructions to the learners. For instance, learners need to know how they are going to earn rewards, how to go about completing course elements for progressing towards competition and so on. In keeping with the times, these instructions should preferably be bite-sized and contextually specific. This will help the learners apply their minds with focus. That, in turn, will enable them to be constantly motivated and improve their performance.
Test, Test, Test
The game-like elements offer the opportunity to test the comprehension and application of the learners. But how to test the validity of the gamification itself? How to know if it’s having the desired impact? If it’s not working, then what’s wrong? This suggests the need to test the existing strategy and validate the assumptions with critical questions.
Questions like, are the rewards not lucrative enough? Is there reason to consider changing them? What about the badges? Are they not visually appealing or do they not carry bragging rights? Is the methodology self-explanatory? Organizations can find out these answers with the help of a focus group and make improvements. Suppose they get feedback that is not possible to implement in the current eLearning module, they can always keep it aside to use in other eLearning modules of the future.
Reiterating the Need for Gamification in eLearning
Much of Gamification is about leveraging the learners’ desires for achievement. In the context of eLearning, Learning and Development experts tap into that desire to help learners attain knowledge. They drive this by relying on a game-based strategy that captures and retains learner attention, challenges them, entertains them, engages them, and finally, teaches them. This could play a key role in the success of any organizational eLearning strategy.