Here at TalentLMS we are always looking for ways to advance e-learning and move our industry forward. For us it’s not just idle marketing talk, but a real passion. It’s not surprising, then, that we have been actively researching gamification, which we believe have the potential to change how we learn and maximize student engagement, when done properly.
To help further our understanding of gamification, as related to e-learning and to our customers’ needs, we conducted an extended survey on our users. We’d like to share a summarized version of its results with the e-learning community.
The first question concerned LMS usage habits with regards to commenting, reviewing and sharing content. The answers show that passive reading of course reviews and forum comments, is more prevalent than writing reviews and commenting (83% versus 50%). Half of the users don’t bother sharing e-learning content on social media (something that might be caused by the poor support many LMS’s offer for social interaction), and a surprisingly large number (32%) rarely or never votes on content.
The above results show that there is a huge room for improvements in engagement and in the community participation aspects of e-learning.
This is also the conclusion of analyzing a second set of questions regarding the impact of several gamification techniques. The majority (62%) of participants says it would be motivated by leader boards and increased competition between students, while a whooping 89% said that a point system would increase their engagement with an e-learning application. Users are also heavily (82%) in favor of multiple difficulty levels and explorable content, while the don’t seem to particularly care for badges or LMS links to existing social media, like Facebook and Twitter.
In any case, a strong demand for gamification is already here: 79% of the responders said that they would be more productive if their university/institution or work was more game-like.
On the matter of rewards for e-learning engagement and achievements, most users seem to prefer discounts on new content/courses (69%) and access to exclusive content (78%). Rewards such as badges and score points are seen as more gimmicky compared to the above, but they still entice a 60% and 50% of the participants respectively.
A respectable percentage of users (25%) seem to be strongly for online competitions, which they find “mostly fun”, while a large 60% majority finds them “sometimes fun”, something that shows that implementation matters.
Users are also predominantly accustomed to websites that offer them the ability to review and rate content and services, from their use of services such as Amazon, eBay, Netflix and similar. They also seem to take advantage of that, with over 75% adding their reviews and ratings at least “occasionally”, and only 24% percent responding that they rarely or never review and rate stuff online.
From a list of e-learning sites and services offering some degree of gamification (from pure e-learning offerings to programming oriented knowledge base StackOverflow and personal training tracker Nike+), half of the respondents were mostly familiar (and have used) Codeacademy and Khan Academy. Of course that could be explained as a result of selection bias, as we mostly targeted our survey at existing e-learning users.
From different gamification and engagement techniques, those that were mostly loved by users were progressing to different levels, scores, real time performance feedback and activity feeds, whereas the least loved were virtual currencies, avatars, competition with friends, virtual gifts, and being part of a narrative (so called “interactive fiction”).
Users also showed a strong affinity to gaming (of the non e-learning kind), with an overwhelming majority (75%) responding that they play computer and/or mobile games (50% casually and 27% moderately to fairly often).
The responses to the survey showcase a strong interest in gamification as a means of increasing engagement. At the same time, they also make apparent that the correct selection and implementation of a gamification strategy matters a lot, as users reject a lot of gamification techniques as mere gimmicks (e.g virtual currencies), while embracing others (e.g multiple levels and scores).
Of course the study of e-learning gamification is far from exhausted. In designing the LMS platforms of tomorrow, we’ll be conducting a lot more research into user habits and use cases to measure how the various techniques available affect e-learning engagement and students’ performance. Some of the results of this research you’ll see posted here. Others, you’ll get to use in a future version of TalentLMS ― so, stay tuned, and keep learning!
(Note: This Survey was conduncted in conjunction with Panagiotis Zaharias. Panagiotis is an eLearning and Usability expert.)