A Guest Post by Shaheen Sajan
Can gamification make learning more meaningful or should we brace ourselves for a new wave of e-Learning courses diluted of any substance? Here are 6 reasons why Gamification is not just a passing fad or trend and why it is here to stay.
1. A carrot instead of a stick
When it all comes down to it, gamification is really about motivation. You can always motivate someone with the stick approach and the threat of failing. Or you can take the Swedish National Society for Road Safety’s carrot approach that applied gamification principles to road safety. Remarkably, they found a way to make it fun to drive below the speed limit by awarding safe drivers with lottery tickets.
2. Not just fun and games
When a new concept is introduced to e-Learning, it’s only natural for people to try to make sense of what it means and to want to understand how it works. One misconception with gamification is that it means we are adding games to our e-Learning modules that detract from the main topic to be learnt.
Gamification does not have to involve games. In fact, some of the best uses of it so far have had no games whatsoever. It is interactive learning with a goal. Now you’re probably thinking; ‘well quizzes do that already.’ What is different between traditional e-Learning quizzes and a gamified quiz is the competitive element.
The principles of gamification are widely linked to Game Theory. Any non-mathematician who watched Russel Crowe’s a Beautiful mind knows Game Theory explains why we make the choices we do based on our perceived probability of success.
As you will recall, there were no games in that movie but the principles of gaming and game theory are somewhat linked by the desire to succeed. Gamification simply takes the best elements of games and applies them to learning to make it more engaging.
3. Competition is healthy
Quizzes are an essential building block of e-Learning courses. For the competitive animal, quizzes can be boring when you are only competing against yourself. Sure, you can earn bragging rights but who else will really care that you answered 95% of the questions correctly other than someone who is taking the same class? Here’s a lesson you don’t have to learn the hard way; bragging to people not taking the same course just doesn’t work and in fact it is a recipe for social disaster and dateless Saturdays!
This is why leader-boards make sense. Depending on the LMS you choose, you can set up leader-boards where all course participants can compete against each other. You get to see who is on the top percentile and where you fall in comparison. It is this type of healthy competition that motivates a participant to do better and achieve great results. Studies show that 89% of participants would be more engaged in an e-Learning application if it had a point-system.
Being mindful not to ostracize underperformers, there should always be a button that asks participants if they would like their results to be published or not.
4. Celebrate achievements
It’s always good practice to recognize anyone who is working hard and achieving good results. When e-Learning is gamified and a user performs well, they can be awarded with a badge or an endorsement that is linked with their profile.
Collecting badges motivates users to learn more and earn more. Let’s say you are teaching a communications course. You can use gamification to award badges along the way such as: good situational judgement, empathetic listener or communicator extraordinaire. These endorsements can then be used by the user to market themselves and their skills, creating a win-win situation.
5. Make learning addictive
When it’s gamified, the goal is to learn but the methods used are designed to motivate the user. One simple example of this that works incredibly well is vocabularly.com. I’m sure I’m not the only person who tried to read the dictionary when they were a kid thinking we would have a great vocabulary at the end. I don’t know about you, but I gave up just after aardvark (\ˈärd-ˌvärk\) when I realized how boring the dictionary was.
Along comes vocabularly.com and suddenly reading the dictionary becomes fun and highly addictive. Vocabulary.com often has amusing definitions, not as amusing as those of the dirty minded urban dictionary, but they are certainly funny enough to be memorable. Now here comes the gamified part. You get to build a vocabulary list and the site generates a quiz or you can take one of their generic quizzes such as the top 1000 words and compete against users worldwide. The last I checked, the top of the leader-board was some guy in India who had an English vocabulary of 1,341,365 words. Thanks to gamification, the user is learning and for the first time ever, reading the dictionary is fun.
6. Boost Retention
When done right, gamification makes learning fun rather than an onerous chore. Frank Farral, leader partner at Deliotte said: "If you can gamify the process, you are rewarding the behaviour and it's like a dopamine release in the brain. Humans like a game."
Gamification encourages the user to experiment and discover what they think they need to learn. It puts them in the driver’s seat of learning. The science behind it is when they are having fun while learning, those ‘feel-good’ endorphins are released which make the user excited because they are achieving something. It is this excitement that makes them more motivated and makes learning more memorable.
It is the precise point when they stop becoming passive observers and become active participants that the knowledge you need them to retain gets stored in their long-term memory, right where you want it.
To sum it up
Gamification is not a buzzword but a useful technique to engage your learners, motivate them, and boost retention of your content whether individual e-Learning, virtual training or face-to-face training in groups.
To find out more about how Green Key can design interactive e-Learning courses, contact Rachel directly.
New here? Rachel writes about leadership development, communication and customer excellence, including health and well-being at work. You can read similar blogs here: