Are you looking at game-based learning to enhance your training initiative? Has the complexity or skill level required by your employees to perform a certain task compelled you to look beyond your usual training standbys? Do you feel that courses infused with game-based learning will have a better impact on your employees?
Let us help you in your decision to choose game-based learning by telling you what you should consider when opting for game-based learning. This will help you get a better insight and effective results from your initiative.
5 Things to Consider
1. Building the relevant context
While creating an environment for the game, it is so easy to get carried away by the design that learners may actually end up playing in a game environment that is far removed from their own work environment.
While it is fine to take liberties with design, it cannot be taken too far. An attempt should be made to create a game environment where the learner can identify the elements of his work, so that he can easily relate to it. Work related cues have to be included in the design.
The connection between the virtual (game) environment and the real (work) environment can be created with the help of contextual details which learners can recognize. For instance, if the game is about teaching password security, the game environment should be designed as an office and not as a fantasy world, to maintain relevance.
2. Finding the right balance between instruction and entertainment
Another issue that comes with too much focus on the game aspect is it becomes all about experience rather than instruction or learning. This shifts the focus away from providing learners the necessary skills to help them excel in their work.
When the focus is on entertainment, the learner is distracted from giving his time and attention to mastering skills and rather plays the game for the entertainment value it provides.
The endeavor should be to balance learning and entertainment. A learning game can be created which can be far removed from the work environment, so that the learner gets truly immersed, but reminders within the game experience let the learner stay focused on learning. A game based on a maze concept for induction training where new hires go through a maze to learn about the organization can have the fantasy environment of a castle. To avoid the risk of learners getting lost in the game, gentle reminders that this is an induction course can be in the form of an address from the CEO in the middle of the game or a request for the learner to agree to a set of organizational policies.
Games should not be included in your e-learning course just for the ‘fun’ factor they bring. This will shift the focus away from the larger purpose of learning. Remember the entertainment factor in games is aimed at increasing the engagement levels of learners. The game should be tied to the learning objectives; it must be designed to help learners achieve the desired outcomes of the course.
3. Giving adequate feedback
In game-based learning, feedback is given through scores, reward points, badges or direct instructions. The feedback has to focus on the player’s performance related to the skills that are being taught. Feedback has to be given when the learner makes a mistake and its consequences have to be explained in relation to a real-life scenario. This will help him understand his mistakes and avoid them at work.
Feedback on whether the learner’s action was right or wrong should be accompanied with an explanation of why it is so. This will help learners understand and comprehend the content while also providing reinforcement of content.
This feedback has to steer away from sounding negative. This will deviate from the primary motive which is to motivate the learner. Scores and evaluations should encourage the learner to think, experiment, and learn and use the feedback to develop consistent and productive thought processes.
Additional feedback can be provided through alerts, scores, and post-game reports. This will motivate learners to continue practicing until they master the game’s learning goals.
4. Providing appropriate challenge levels
Games have to provide the right level of challenge for learners to attract their attention and ensure that they learn something from the experience. If the games are too simple, they will lose interest quickly and quit. If it is too difficult, they can give up in frustration. So it is important to ensure that games have the right level of challenge, they should match the player’s capabilities. The problems in games should provide fun and motivation to learners. The challenges in the game have to suit the majority of learners so that it has a wider appeal.
5. Having too many competitive elements
Including competitive elements in your game can be attractive to some learners; it can be motivating, for other learners it can add to the stress factor.
Too many competitive elements can be counterproductive to promoting collaboration in the workplace and sharing of information among employees. For example, including leaderboards in a game-based product training course for sales personnel can motivate them to learn all about the product to score the highest points, whereas the same feature may lead to unnecessary conflicts among new hires if included in an onboarding course. So use these elements judiciously based on the learner profile and training type.
Game-based learning will certainly increase the impact of your e-learning course. But you need to have the right design strategies in place to ensure it brings the desired results.