Playing games is one of the most natural things that we as humans can do. Indeed, in some ways it goes towards defining our species – the ability we have to enjoy ourselves, to have fun, to pass the time in friendly competition, completely divorced in those moments from any struggle whatsoever for survival.
Gaming is addictive, and one of the best ways that you can ensure that a group of learners are actively engaging with the ideas and information that they are being taught is to introduce the element of the game into the subject matter. Indeed, when done thoughtfully and correctly, gaming need not be merely a procrastinatory past time at all, but a genuine, serviceable function towards learning.
Gaming and Technology
The capacities and technologies used in e-learning make the integration of games into the learning material more than possible. Indeed, the platform almost feels like it was created with games in mind. It is no secret that gaming and technology go hand in hand – right from the beginnings with Pong, to the beautifully complex intricacies of the games now available on PlayStation and Xbox – to combine the two into creating something genuinely educational and useful just makes good sense. Indeed, if your workforce is having fun whilst they’re learning, then they are by definition more engaged with the content, and eager to play/learn more.
The beauty of integrating games into your e-learning platform is that your learner’s desire to win the game translates directly – almost at a subconscious level in fact – into the desire to learn. It taps into that other most recognisable human capacity – that of competition. The more the learner will want to be the best at the game you create for him, the more he will in turn know more about the material with which he is engaging. His desire to be the best will almost transcendentally become his desire to know the most.
To build a game into the usage training of your workplace’s materials is actually an easier task than you might think. There are already apps that have been developed which allow managers to build their own reward systems for employees who are undergoing training using gamification techniques. Through the allocation of experience points, the manager can assign a certain amount that a learner must attain before he or she is permitted to progress through the game into the next section of learning. This ensures that all participants are fully ‘qualified’ in one area of their study before they can move onto the next.
The best use of this model is when each new stage of the learning game increases slightly in its complexity in comparison to the last. Experience points can be earned however the manager sees fit throughout the learner’s progression through these stages. It often works best when all participants are encouraged to view, comment and indeed contribute to the learning content, as this social involvement with the material leads to better all round engagement and results in the most desirable outcomes.
The Key to Success
In order for your gamification programme to be effective, however, you have to ensure that it is executed well. A meaningless point scoring or badge attaining structure for learners can often be detrimental to engagement without due consideration, and if the game itself is just too easy, simple or plain boring then it will fail to have the desired effect.
Indeed, Gartner recently released a research report predicting that as much as 80% of gamified applications for business will fail to meet their objectives in 2014. This is mainly due to poor design and without proper forethought into how best to integrate the game into the materials that are being used.
The trick, then, comes in the form of accurately identifying in the first place the correct business problems that you want to solve. The process of gamification is only ever useful when it targets specific problems and encourages certain behaviours towards those problems, which aid the learner in determining for himself the correct actions to take in response. The gamification process really works towards incentivising the learner towards a speedy and accurate identification of the problem, and furthermore by creating the solution.
There are two types of motivation which you are trying to arouse in your employees by introducing gamification into their training procedures:
- Extrinsic motivation, where the trainee performs an action for an external reward.
- Intrinsic motivation, where the reward is personal.
The ultimate end goal of the gamification in your e-learning practices is that by the time the game has finished – i.e. by the time the extrinsic motivation for external reward is over – the trainee has learned the true value of what he has learnt and achieved, and will take this new attitude back into the workplace where he will continue to perform the tasks due only to his intrinsic motivation to do so.
There is no denying the benefits that well thought out gamification techniques can imbue into your business’s e-learning model. Just always ensure that it is pertinent to requirements and you’ll be onto a winner.