Gamification is rapidly becoming an effective eLearning tool. It is defined as “the use of game design and mechanics to enhance non-game contexts by increasing participation, engagement, loyalty and competition.” For eLearning purposes, it serves as an aid for learning specific tasks using video game elements. At its core, gamification taps into people’s penchant for being competitive, collaborative, ambitious, and altruistic. The main reason for the proliferation of this trend is its target users.
eLearning Inside News recently reported that millennials are a huge part of the workforce, and 81% of this demographic play video games. On top of that, they think video games teach strategies that will help them “win” at their job, solve problems, and improve skills in team efforts. For employers, gamification is perfect because it engages employees on a familiar level.
To make the most out of this strategy, here are the best ways to incorporate gamification into eLearning.
1. Make the Game Fun
McDonald’s realized that their training program for manning the cash register needed to be more effective. They developed an online game on their website that simulated real-time customer orders. Users would take these orders under timed-conditions and they can win awards on the basis of the number of correct orders; completing them before time runs out; and customer satisfaction rating. Users enjoyed the challenge of achieving the desired results and getting rewards in the form of badges and increased lifelines.
2. Keep the Game Relevant
McDonald’s employees were able to derive a sense of entertainment from the game, which they could relate to their actual job. The game also put players in scenarios that teach how to: handle the machines through repeated use; anticipate different situations and; be confident with their work. Users learned more effectively through this method versus passively observing through example. Plus, it provides useful knowledge on how to avoid errors that could upset production and customer satisfaction.
3. Provide Mechanics and Easy Navigation
Retail chain Home Depot also applied the strategy through an app that facilitates trainees in customer service. The system uses different mechanics including points, levels, badges, and leadership boards. These are accessible through the 'Challenges' feature which is exclusive to the company's employees. The app also has an easy to navigate interface, allowing trainees to quickly access product information. In a previous article, Lambda Solutions explained the importance of navigability and user interface for a more effective learning management system. Home Depot's strategy raised productivity across all levels of operations.
4. Allow Customization
Deloitte Leadership Academy turned their online site into a game where each student is assigned a “mission” related to the lesson. After accomplishing the objectives, students get badges which they can share on social media through their customized profile. Additional badges earned by students could lead to surprise bonus badges for more excitement. CIO Review points out that badges provide immediate feedback on a user's performance and how they can improve. Even leadership boards are tailor-made to suit users of the same level to foment competitiveness. The boards are reset every week to encourage repeat engagements.
Thanks to advances in tech, gamification is easier to implement. Tools such as smartphones are available, and better connectivity allows learners to access information in a more efficient manner.
In truth, developments such as interconnectivity and the incorporation of gaming elements into learning are part of a natural progression. This is because education and the internet have been working hand-in-hand for a while now. 20 years ago, MIT began posting learning materials online for free. Years later, UC Berkeley uploaded lectures to iTunes – breaking new ground in the process. And this has only gone to strengthen the need for learning resources to be available online for students to access whenever they need them. Maryville University states that online courses are becoming a crucial part of the learning process in general. And now anyone can get the competitive edge they need to get ahead in their careers. With the addition of gamification, eLearning becomes even more engaging, and a lot more flexible which aids students in the long run.
Ultimately, gamification proves that effective learning is not just about the lessons that should be absorbed – it's also about how they can be absorbed.