4 Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Gamification of eLearning Courses

Gamification is one of the most popular strategies to make your eLearning courses engaging and effective. While it has multiple benefits, it comes with certain difficulties as well, and this blog will help you to avoid these common pitfalls.

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Gamification: 4 Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Gamification is a modern-day technique or precisely an eLearning trend that is very popular among the current generation employees (GenZ) and the late millennials due to the enhanced engagement it provides. Game elements such as levels, reward points, incentive awards, and leaderboards are used to give your eLearning courses a gamified touch. Gamification can be used in pre-training, during training, and post-training depending on your course type and the approach it follows. But, there are certain pitfalls that need to be addressed and avoided to ensure a productive eLearning experience, this blog discusses the 4 most common pitfalls and the ways you can avoid them.

4 Most Common Pitfalls to Avoid and How to Avoid Them

1. Gamification for the sake of it, without a clear strategy

Gamification is indeed an excellent strategy to implement in your eLearning courses only when you have a clear vision of your learning goals. Using gamification for the sake of it will only deviate your eLearning courses from your organization’s learning objectives. Every method whether it’s gamification or anything else requires a well-thought strategy to impactfully function. A lack of clear strategy can cause your development efforts to turn useless and make your eLearning courses vague.

Solution:

Ensure your learning goals are sorted before you apply gamification within your eLearning courses. Boosting engagement in training in general, changing the behavior of your employees, or boosting sales can be some of the learning objectives an organization might look forward to. Gamification should only be used if it supports your eLearning course structure and its learning objectives, or else, look out for other relevant strategies such as microlearning or scenario-based learning.

Explore the details about scenario-based learning with the help of this free webinar recording.

2. Lack of Visual Appeal

Visuals of your eLearning course can at times lay the foundation for other strategies like gamification to be used at their best. When you only include game elements, but your course lacks a visual appeal to support those elements, the overall course loses its credibility. For example, assume that you added game elements like levels, reward points, and leaderboards to your sales training program but the course doesn’t have any sort of interactive and engaging visuals, rather, only texts and still images. Your employees will lose their motivation to complete or even actively participate in these training sessions due to the lack of a visual and interactive appeal.

Solution:

Make your eLearning gamified courses, visually appealing with the help of animated graphics, interactive level designs, and relatable customized characters/avatars. To facilitate learning with the help of gamification, visuals can often act as a stimulator. Having a clear idea of what motivates and engages your employees will help you to add relevant visuals to your gamified course.

Consider the above example, but build your course around a visually attractive virtual environment. In this virtual environment, a sales employee is managing a store, where he/she has to interact with different customers entering the store. Their conversations will be shown alongside their avatars in chat bubbles and avatars show expressions according to the conversation’s flow. The conversation will either lead to a successful sale or the customer walking off, depending on your choice of words and the actions you make. This way, learners can feel directly involved in their respective sales training sessions.

3. Complicated game elements/game mechanics being used

Apart from simple straightforward game elements, there are various complex game elements as well, such as hand-eye coordination enhancement, reaction time improvisations, human psychology integration, etc. Organizations can sometimes get confused and add these complicated game elements thinking it would engage the learners even more, but it backfires. Employees who are not part-time gamers or don’t necessarily consider themselves skilled gamers, can lose their engagement in a nick of time. Complicated game elements can also mess up the primary approach of your eLearning courses, i.e learning, and not gaming.

Solution:

Keeping things simple and sober is probably the catch here, because your eLearning sessions are not professional gaming tournaments. After your strategy is finalized, including simple game elements to enhance learner engagement and motivation, while making things fun and exciting is the main focus behind the gamification of your eLearning courses. The elements like basic levels, completion rewards, mid-course assessment points, and skill badges should make up for the simple game elements that can be used. Complex game elements should generally be avoided or only be used under certain conditions to meet specific requirements or else it overwhelms the learners and makes them lose focus.

4. Rewards being prioritized over learning objectives

Rewards are often considered the primary aspect or element of gamification that drives the most learner engagement. Rewards provide a sense of accomplishment to the employees and motivate them to work more efficiently and produce even better results. But, rewarding anyone for little to non-essential things such as participation or carrying out a side activity that is not relevant to the main course, can reduce the impact of rewards on a generalized basis. It’s a common saying that achievements taste best when they are earned, and not just given. Thus, giving away rewards or points without successfully achieving your learning outcomes, can lead to employees misunderstanding the objectives of the courses which will hamper their productivity, and waste their time.

Solution:

As we discussed earlier in point 3, that game elements should be kept simple, the same goes with rewards. Keeping the rewards simple, and specific to the actions or achievements will result in the success of your eLearning courses because it will help your employees earn the rewards, not just receive them. Awarding them for completing a course with a specific badge along with their certificate, or just incentivizing them for any extra sales they make can be considered some viable rewards. It will make your employees accomplish your learning goals faster because you are rewarding them only for the tasks that directly support your training objectives. In the end, your rewards should be an asset to recognize your achievements, rather than being the sole reason to accomplish a certain task or activity.

Parting thoughts!

Gamification can significantly impact the learning experience of your employees positively or negatively, depending on how you use it, and how much clarity you have regarding its basic concepts. Avoiding the pitfalls mentioned above can lead to a successful gamification strategy to be implemented in your eLearning courses. As there are certain aspects of training that gamification cannot cover, regardless of how much potential it has, there are other eLearning trends that tend to cover up for it, while being equally impactful in the modern eLearning industry. This free eBook can introduce you to the other effective eLearning trends that can help you create engaging and productive eLearning courses.

eLearning Trends 2022 – The View from the Trenches
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