Who doesn’t love to play games? We might have an aversion to housekeeping chores, reluctantly go to work, and unwillingly sit down to study, but whatever our age, we all love playing or watching all kinds of games. So much in fact, that according to the famous Dutch historian and cultural theorist Johan Huizinga, man himself can better be described as “Homo Ludens” (“the playing man”), since play is not only an important attribute of mankind but also a necessary condition for the generation of culture.
This post, as you might have already guessed is about the gamification features of TalentLMS, and how you can leverage them in your courses to engage learners and increase participation. In case you’re not familiar with the term, gamification is about making something (in our case e-learning) more fun, by introducing some elements of play in it.
Gamification takes the data-driven techniques that game designers use to engage players, and applies them to non-game experiences to motivate actions that add value to a business. If you’re into web surfing, you have surely encountered several instances of gamification in action, in websites and services as diverse as Facebook, Foursquare, Amazon, TripAdvisor and StackOverflow. Every time you earn points for participating more in a social site? That’s gamification. Every time you are awarded some badge or title for your contributions? The same. Every time you “unlock” some extra feature by being a loyal user? You guessed correctly, it’s gamification again.
There are several techniques that are routinely used to “gamify” a web application or service, and TalentLMS integrates some of the more well-known and battle-tested ones, namely Points, Badges, Levels, Leaderboards & Rewards. If those words are unfamiliar, don’t worry. In the rest of this post we’ll combine an overview of gamification in TalentLMS with a little terminology course.
Points are the equivalent of “keeping score” in a game. You can configure the occasions in which points are awarded (for example, when one completes a course, for each login to the LMS, etc). Each time a user gets points he is shown a non-intrusive message, along with a visual count-up incrementing his total points in the header. The whole scheme might sound simple, but there’s nothing like a subtle touch of gamification to ignite the competitive spirit in your learners.
Badges are the equivalent of real world badges (or “medals”). They are visual stamps (images), that are unlocked on certain achievements, and are displayed in the user’s header and profile info. As with points, when a user gets a badge, a non-intrusive notification is shown. TalentLMS implements a badging system that makes acquiring badges easy in the early stages (e.g after a few logins, or on course completion), and increasingly difficult as the user progresses (e.g after getting a certificate, after getting a perfect grade on a test, etc). There are 8 categories of badges available, with each category offering 8 levels of badges. TalentLMS badging system has been designed to be compatible with Mozilla’s OpenBadges initiative.
Levels can be thought as a hierarchy that the user can move up on (like getting a promotion at work, or completing a year of school). By default, all users start on Level 1. Moving up a level lets users unlock courses, and TalentLMS admins have the option to configure the minimum level needed for unlocking any particular course. Courses that cannot be followed by a user due to level restrictions display a “Unlocked on level X” message instead of “Get” or “Buy” on the course catalog.
Leaderboards are what you might know from your console gaming years as a “high score” list. Leaderboards offer a visual depiction of the user’s ranking under various metrics (Points, Badges, Certifications etc) compared to fellow learners. Leaderboards always mention the best in their category, as well as several people near the the current user. This way the learner has a grand overview of his position compared to others.
While most of the above gamification elements were about a virtual ranking of users, rewards turn those points and badges into something more tangible, like a discount, a special offer, or anything else that we can consider offering as a reward in the future (currently our rewards system only offers discounts). Rewards information is accessible from the user’s header (when available).
So you know what gamification is. Ready to play?
There you have it, those are the basic elements of gamification available on TalentLMS. But it’s only half the story, as the system is very configurable, with regards to which combinations of the above you will enable, what requirements you’ll set for awarding them, etc, so you can fine-tune a custom gamification experience based on your own course needs, and have it as light or as heavy as you want. So go play, but come back next week for more of our posts on TalentLMS and creating the perfect e-learning setup.
Check our video on our Gamification features: