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Making the Case for Gamification in Corporate eLearning

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Introducing gamification into a corporate eLearning environment can be challenging. You may be faced with resistance and questions about mixing ‘work’ with ‘games’.

If this happens, change the conversation from gamification to problem solving. Focus on the problem you’re trying to solve – delivering engaging courses which improve staff performance.

By directing the conversation towards course improvement, you will have a greater chance of introducing elements of gamification.

Corporate resistance

When suggesting the use of gamification in a corporate eLearning environment, you may receive responses that range from “that sounds fun” to “the subject matter is far too serious” or “people are here to work, not play games”.

This is a common reaction when you mix the terms ‘work’ and ‘games’, especially when they are applied to courses that are mandatory.

When a new member of staff joins a company, they are usually presented with a number of mandatory courses to take as part of their induction. The problem with these types of compliance-based courses is that the learner will have completed similar courses in their previous roles.

Gone are the days when you would work your whole career at one company. The modern workforce is made up of contractors and full-time employees who switch from one role to another on a regular basis. The modern worker then has to complete a series of courses each time they start a new role.

If you ask new employees what they thought of their learning experience, you may receive feedback along the lines of “the course was boring”, “I had to read lots of content that I already knew” or “I didn’t have enough time to do all the courses”. If new employees have done similar courses before, their motivation will be low.

When you are faced with low levels of engagement, you need to focus on motivating your learners.

Motivating learners

Two key components of motivation are autonomy and mastery. Autonomy is giving your learners the freedom to choose how they learn. Mastery is providing visible recognition when competence is reached. Both of these areas can be addressed by applying gamification techniques to your courses.

Autonomy

Adult learners like to have control of their learning.  A learner response such as “I had to read lots of content that I already knew” indicates that reading every screen was compulsory before progression was permitted.

Many compliance courses are built like this, and it is a source of frustration to learners. When they are already familiar with the content, it can be quite tedious to complete, resulting in responses such as “the course was boring”.

You can apply gamification techniques within your course to allow elements of autonomy.

Rather than presenting your learners a series of screens containing a next button, you can introduce storytelling, branching scenarios, or even providing early access to required assessments.

Self-directed learning allows freedom and satisfies the need for autonomy.

Mastery

When learners are able to perform a task to a defined level, they have demonstrated competence and have mastered the task. In order to achieve mastery, the learner usually has to practice until they get to the required level.

Gamification techniques can be applied within your courses to allow the learner to practice in a safe environment. Your course content can be offered with increasing difficulty in the form of levels.

Various feedback mechanisms can be presented to the learner. By allowing failure and providing instant feedback on performance, mastery is achieved through practice.

Outside the course, at the LMS level, the learner can view their progression in the form of badges for completed courses. The learner can unlock desirable courses by taking mandatory ones, reducing the response “I didn’t have enough time to do all the courses” from potentially unmotivated learners.

The visibility of progress offered both inside and outside gamified courses, allows the learner to see proof of their mastery.

Making the case for gamification

If you are contemplating the introduction of gamification into your corporate elearning program, approach it from a learner perspective.

Identify what the issues are, such as unengaging content and unmotivated learners. To address these issues, propose gamification techniques such as the use of self-directed learning, levels, practice and feedback.

Successful implementation will motivate your learners, generate engaging courses and improve staff performance.

For more information on gamification, read the 10 Must-Read Articles About Gamification

 

Guest post

Gerard Friel, Gerard is an eLearning Instructional Designer with over a ten years’ experience in both higher education and corporate. Having worked in a variety of fields, including professional services, banking, mining and construction, Gerard promotes engaging learning design that serves a purpose.

  • I agree with you John Laskaris that gamification works because it engages and it is about creative problem solving. In fact it can get addictive because of the will to “achieve”.

    Although this is received with some resistance at the corporate level now I also get the impression that participants welcome this element whether in live training sessions or on elearning settings.

    As a learner, the right game not only engages but brings the point home in a very memorable way.