Last week I saw a friend chasing someone or something across the park. As she stopped to chat for a minute, I couldn’t help but notice that she had dropped quite a few pounds. When asked for the secret, she told me that she was participating in the Pokemon Go Challenge. For those who are blissfully unaware of Pokemon Go, it is an interactive app for iPhones and Androids that encourages people to chase and capture Pokemon by throwing Pokeballs at them. It uses augmented reality, so your smartphone camera might be pointed at a real-life scene but you will see Pokemon superimposed on the image. While you go down the road chasing Pokemon, you are actually being tricked into exercising more.
I am amazed at the capability of this gamified app that has boosted the health and fitness levels of millions across the world. Why not apply the same principle of gamification in online healthcare training programs? Many of you might argue that healthcare is serious business while games are not. Contrary to the popular belief, a study by Beth Israel Hospital revealed that surgeons who played video games regularly were significantly better at performing laparoscopic surgeries compared to others who did not. For those of you who doubt if gamification will work for a serious subject such as healthcare, the answer is it will, and here’s why.
Builds an Emotional Connect
Emotions play an important role in the learning process. Gamifying your online healthcare training program can evoke nostalgia and transport you back to childhood. Let’s assume you have to rollout an online training program to nurses in the emergency room (ER) on the dos and don’ts of handling patients in the ER. You could choose to display a bulleted slide and expect that learners will adhere to the instructions, based on rational judgement. But this does not happen always.
On the other hand, if you use gamification in the online healthcare training program, you can build an emotional connect with learners. Instead of displaying a bulleted slide, you can use gamification elements to assess the learner’s understanding of the rules to be followed in patient care. When the learner makes the correct choice, he can be rewarded in the form of badges or points and proceed to the next question. In case of an incorrect answer, the learner can be shown a video or an animation that depicts the consequences of not following patient care rules. This ensures that the learner connects with the information being delivered through the online training program. Also, this boosts information retention.
Adobe Captivate, iSpring, and Articulate Storyline are a few examples of authoring tools that can be used to gamify your online training programs.
Offers the Freedom to Fail
In a traditional learning environment learners are scored objectively. If you do not have the correct answers to questions posed to you, you end up failing the assessment. When you answer a question incorrectly, you are told that you are not correct, but not told why, nor do you get an insight into the real consequences of making mistakes on the job.
With games, it’s a different scenario. You win some, you lose some. Gamification accommodates failure. You always get a second or a third chance as there are multiple lives for the player in a game. The learner who is going through a gamified online training program gets multiple opportunities to perform a task until they get it right. For example, you could gamify the learning experience for nursing trainees who need to be educated on handling the challenges they will face in their jobs. A hurdles game where the learner needs to complete a challenge to cross a hurdle and move on to the next level will not only provide an engaging experience but also prepare learners for their duties at the workplace.
Gamifying your online healthcare training program can motivate learners to complete courses. Here is how gamification in online healthcare training engages learners:
- Helps learners understand what’s in it for them
- Taps into their intrinsic motivation
- Lays down a clear path on where the learner is and where he needs to go
- Turns boring activities into interesting tasks
Traditional training programs can be overwhelming and feedback is often delivered only at the end of the training program. Gamification offers immediate and consistent feedback and you do not have to wait till the end of the training program to know how you have performed. With gamification elements such as leaderboards, you can compare your progress in achieving training goals with others.
Let’s take the example of an online healthcare training program for nurses. You can help learners prioritize learning activities within the training program by assigning different points to each activity. This in turn indicates the priority for each activity. Feedback can also be in the form of badges that indicate successful completion of a learning activity. Gamifying online training programs can be challenging as it takes more time and more creativity to get it right, but this is an investment that will pay off big-time.