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A quick guide to Gamification

Now the fun, competitive, motivational power of games is being applied to workplace learning.  It’s called gamification and it makes training more engaging and effective.

How does gamification work?

Gamification means using game elements and thinking behind games and applying them to other contexts such as learning and development.  Learning takes the form of a game designed to motivate us to learn.  It introduces a competitive element too as you’re challenged to move on to higher levels of attainment and expertise.  As in any good game, there are risks and rewards depending on how you play.  

Gamification is a type of learning by doing, which has been shown to improve knowledge retention and performance.  A 2019 study of gamification concluded that gamified learning made people more productive and happier in their work.  The overwhelming majority of those surveyed preferred gamification in their training.  

Digital learning programs can benefit from including elements of gamification.  

Key elements of gamification

The structure: To make learning more like a game you need to build a game-like structure.  This involves setting rules and goals.  Learners need to know what they’re playing for, why they’re playing, and what the rewards are for playing well.

The story: People remember a good story.  Provide a narrative that knits the learning tasks together.  Role plays and scenarios place learning in context and increase its relevance.  Scenarios put people in others’ shoes so that they can see a different perspective: for example, imagining being a manager conducting a performance appraisal.  Using avatars can help increase the realness of the experience.  Holding back some information or outcome, like in a thriller, encourages the learner to explore further and gives the disclosure of key learning points more impact.

The challenge: Give learners an explicit goal to reach.  This may mean the completion of a set piece of learning in a set time, a target number of points in a quiz, or a threshold of understanding to reach to make it to the next level.  The challenge motivates learners and makes the process of learning more exciting.  The elements of risk and reward give learners a sense of control over how they learn and at what pace.

Interactivity: Games encourage active participation and learning.  Gamifying your learning means making it more interactive.  You can start by adopting digital learning that involves multimedia elements that we associate with online games.  Video and audio elements combined with scenarios, interactive exercises, and assessment tasks stimulate learners and give learning greater impact.

Rewards: You play games to win and the same can apply to learning.  Reward good performance in learning games or reaching learning milestones with a system of digital badges and certificates.  These can be linked to CPD and recorded in a learner’s portfolio or performance record.

Learning paths: Introducing games is a way of personalizing learning.  Set a goal, learners can choose which tasks to complete in which, plan their own progress towards that goal, move back and forth between learning content, and do it at their own pace.  They create their own learning paths through the series of choices they make.  

Competition: We can use the competitive element of games to motivate learners.  Learners either work on their own to achieve their goals and get their rewards or you can set them a challenge to compete against other learners.  Competition can be reflected in personal or team leaderboards where current scores and personal bests are displayed and new targets posted.

Collaboration: Learning games can be group activities.  Develop scenarios and assignments that require the input of several learners working together.  Create tasks and assignments to test collective decision-making.  Awards are achieved through teamwork and collaboration.  Group learning builds bonds between team members.  

Apps: Gamification needn’t be high-end or costly to develop like a computer game.  You can use apps like Quizlet to build your own interactive quizzes.  Look at game-based learning platforms like Kahoot! for ways of introducing visually appealing, interactive games into your training programs.


10 key benefits of gamification

Gamified learning has several benefits for employees and organizations:

  1. It engages learners by making learning fun.
  2. It increases the motivation to learn.
  3. It gives learners more control over their progress.
  4. It aids the retention of knowledge.
  5. It spices up routine learning, especially during key stages like onboarding.
  6. It can be used to quickly fill skills gaps.
  7. It differentiates between levels of expertise and experience.
  8. It provides a fail-safe environment in which to take decisions and explore consequences.
  9. It refreshes learning and tests understanding.
  10. It promotes a culture of learning.

In short, gamification improves the quality and effectiveness of learning. See how you could get started with gamification.

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