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Gamification in online training and learning management systems

Gamification is the use of game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning and solve problems. Basically it's the use of gaming technology to solve problems outside of the games sector. Games are created to draw people in, to keep them playing, to keep them interested, entertained and involved. And it's much more than just adding rewards, points, and badges to processes to motivate people - it's the instructional method, and not just the delivery system, that provides the elements for learning in a game situation i.e. we must ask what pieces in games makes them engaging such as interactivity, content, story.

Impact of gamification

A study done by Traci Sitzmann, an assistant professor of management at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, found that "employees trained on video games learned more factual information, attained a higher skill level and retained information longer than workers who learned in less interactive environments." She found that games provided a high level of instruction, but she also noted that it wasn't just dependent on the game per se, but the interactivity or the elements that make the game engaging. In other words, the engagement of the learner in the game leads to learning.

Gamification is taking elements of gaming and adding them to traditional instruction. Instructional designers have been using some elements for years, like stories, case studies, or interactive activities, but gamification is more about taking into consideration interactivity and engagement first, and objectives second.

Enterprise gamification

Companies are now also "gamifying" various business processes to motivate employees, fundraise for causes, and market products.

Tech-industry research firm Gartner estimates that by 2014, "some 70% of large companies will use the techniques for at least one business process. Market researcher M2 Research estimates revenue from gamification software, consulting and marketing will reach $938 million by 2014 from less than $100 million in 2013."

Companies need to make sure that the games are not just doling out meaningless awards or badges. Overuse will cause gamification to be trivialized and non-impactful.