Are you an e-learning manager? Do you wish to avoid learner responses such as this?
How can you make your online courses interesting? What does it take to “inject” life into your e-learning programs? Well, you need to gamify your courses.
But, what is gamification?
The process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation – Merriam-Webster dictionary
The practice of making activities more like games in order to make them more interesting or enjoyable – Cambridge dictionary
From these definitions, it is clear that gamification involves incorporation of game elements such as point scoring, rules of play to other spheres of activity, such as online training.
What is not gamification?
Having seen what gamification is, it is important to understand what IS NOT gamification. Gamification is driven by two major factors.
Gamification is used in the context of a specific activity such as training. Mere incorporation of a game, without a relevant context cannot be considered gamification. For instance, inclusion of a popular video game is not gamification, unless it is used in the context of a particular activity such as evaluation of online learners.
The primary purpose of gamification is to make an activity such as online marketing engaging. Inclusion of a game, which does not result in making an activity interesting, cannot be treated as gamification. For instance, adding a video game based on soccer is not gamification. However, if the same game is used to make customer interactions enjoyable, then it is considered gamification.
Growing popularity of gamification
In recent years, many companies have adopted gamification techniques to train their staff members and improve productivity. Gartner Research has predicted that by the year 2015, more than 50% of corporate processes will be gamified. It is estimated that gamification will be the primary mechanism that 40% of the Global 1000 organizations will employ to improve their business operations. (Source: Digital Games Revolutionizing Workplace Learning? A Discussion on the Merits of Game-based Learning in the Workplace)
We will now look at some of the features of a good gamified online course.
Characteristics of a well-designed gamified e-learning course
It is no exaggeration to say that an effective storyline is the soul of a good gamified course. An effective narrative helps a lot to sustain the interest of the learner, and no amount of animations and other media elements can be a substitute for a well-crafted storyline. Click here to find out how to create a winning plot for your course.
Judicious blend of fun and instruction
There is much more to a gamified online course than ogres, genies and superheroes. It FACILITATES EFFECTIVE LEARNING. The fun element of the course needs to be balanced with good instruction. For example, the focus of the designer of a gamified compliance course based on the novel Treasure Island needs to be on educating learners about applicable laws rather than helping them win the game and “amass” tons of gold and silver.
This is another important component of an effective gamified e-learning course. The course presents a challenge – one that requires a learner to make the best use of his abilities to overcome. The challenge is presented in such a way that it keeps the learner engaged and helps achieve the learning objectives of the course. For instance, we have developed an engaging online course where the learners can acquire knowledge of food safety hazards while playing a game.
Click here to play the Food Safety Hazards training game
“Right” complexity of the challenge
If the learning game is too simple for the experts or too complex for novice learners, the objective of the course cannot be achieved. Learners may lose interest in the game and opt to quit. Therefore, it is very important to consider the abilities of your personnel when you design a learning game. You can “divide” the content into various levels and assign increasingly complex challenges as the learner moves ahead. For instance, one of our clients uses gamified e-learning courses to train its people on management strategies. The company uses a simple game to teach the basics, but as the learners proceed to advanced concepts, the games become more complex.
Rewards go a long way in motivating learners to take up the course. For instance, a drug-manufacturing giant uses game-based online courses to train the personnel of its legal department. The staff members are intimated that the learner who wins the highest number of points in the game on patent laws will be rewarded with a badge and USD 1400. This motivated the employees to do well in the training and win the badge and the financial reward.
Possibility to tinker
A good gamified e-learning course provides several ways to achieve the goal. Learners often find it boring to “progress” step-by-step towards the goal. The course allows the player(s) to chalk out his own strategy to win the game. Consider this scenario.
A learning game based on the story of Hansel and Gretel requires the learner to cross a forest to win. The learner is allowed to “chart” his own path through the forest and reach the destination.
Facility to interact seamlessly
You need to make sure that the games you use in your online course facilitate the desired level of interactivity. A well-designed, interactive learning game improves the learner’s ability to think and helps make the course engaging. It creates interest in the learner and goes a long way in enhancing the efficacy of the course.
Let us now look at some of the popular misconceptions about gamified e-learning.
A few myths about gamified online courses
Good gamified courses are high end
Many believe that an effective gamified e-learning course contains “exotic” animations and graphics. However, this is not true. Simple courses, with a good narrative, having relevant content can be as effective (or even more) as a gamified online training module containing Hollywood-like animations. At the end of the day, it is the quality of instruction that matters.
It takes time and money to build an effective gamified e-learning course
The advent of rapid authoring tools has made the development of gamified courses quick and cost-effective. Tools such as Articulate Storyline 2, Adobe Captivate 9 and Lectora Inspire 12 can be used to develop good courses with minimal effort and costs.
Gamified courses are popular only with young learners
There is a popular misconception that gamified online courses are preferred only by Gen-Y learners (those born after 1980). While it true that most Gen-Y people are tech-savvy, online games are equally popular with older staff members. A fine example to prove this point is Candy Crush Saga.
Some of the training programs that work well when gamified
Gamification goes a long way in imparting stress free-learning. A good gamified course has an engaging storyline and blends fun and instruction efficiently. It presents a challenge of the right complexity effectively. The efficacy of gamified courses can be enhanced through rewards and by allowing learners the freedom to choose their strategy to win the games. Simple, well-designed gamified courses can be built in quick time and at low cost and popular with learners of all ages. Gamified courses are very useful to impart induction and compliance training. They are also ideal tools to enhance soft skills and develop other professional skills.