We mentioned in the previous sections, the impact of public recognition as a positive reinforcement of the learner’s behavior. If you are seriously thinking of taking rewards up one level – consider analyzing your learners. If you recall Gardner’s various multiple intelligences – you will recognize how unique our thought processes are. Rewarding a linguistic learner (who enjoys reading and gathering information) with tickets to a baseball game will be unfair to both the winner and another learner who is kinesthetic (enjoys moving around and physical activities).
Motivating with gamification elements
And how can we forget the infamous gamification strategy? Interested in creating a Community of Practice? A Community of Inquiry? Simply inject gamification options in the course. A threshold of points translates into a particular badge. The learner gets bragging rights for being “the smartest learner” or the “ace of the maze” etc. Give them privileges to choose avatars. Borrow examples from games. You will be surprised how badge-hungry your learners will turn out to be! If you have knitted brows then you need a primer on gamification.
Consider this “crash info” from Wikipedia: Though the term “gamification” was coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling, a British-born computer programmer and inventor, it did not gain popularity until 2010. Even prior to the term coming into use, other fields borrowing elements from video games was common; for example, some work in scientific visualization borrowed elements from video games. A Forbes blogger also retroactively labeled, Charles Coonradt, who in 1973 founded the consultancy The Game of Work and in 1984 wrote a book by the same name, as the “Grandfather of Gamification”. The term “gamification” first gained widespread usage in 2010, in a more specific sense, referring to the incorporation of social/reward aspects of games into software. The technique captured the attention of venture capitalists, one of whom said he considered gamification the most promising area in gaming. Another observed that half of all companies seeking funding for consumer software applications mentioned game design in their presentations. Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems. It has been studied and applied in several domains, with some of the main purposes being to:
- Engage (improve user engagement, physical exercise, return on investment, flow, data quality, timeliness)
- Teach (in classrooms, the public or at work)
- Entertain (enjoyment, fan loyalty)
- Measure (for recruiting and employee evaluation)
- Improve the perceived ease of use of information systems.
A review of research on gamification shows that a majority of studies on gamification find positive effects of gamification. Gamification techniques strive to leverage people’s natural desires for socializing, learning, mastery, competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, or closure. Early gamification strategies use rewards for players who accomplish the desired tasks or competition to engage players. Types of rewards include points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar, or providing the user with virtual currency. Making the rewards for accomplishing tasks visible to other players, or providing leaderboards, are ways of encouraging players to compete.
Due to potentially problematic consequences of competition, which can result in unethical behavior, low cooperation and low collaboration, or disadvantaging certain player demographics such as women, current gamification designs try to refrain from using this element. Another approach to gamification is to make existing tasks feel more like games. Some techniques used in this approach include adding meaningful choice, onboarding with a tutorial, increasing challenge, and adding narrative.
Motivating with real-life incentives
Real-life incentives go an even longer way than online ones. Company-wide recognition, both online and offline, offers psychological motivation to complete the training. Arrange a pre-course meeting with prospective trainees to develop commitment and support from each other. Request from “celebrity employees” to be facilitators. In this pre-course meeting, introduce the featured employee/facilitator and talk about how he/she has achieved their current status. It is not surprising to reveal to your trainees, that the main route to their prestige and success is life-long learning. Inspiring individuals like these, will definitely kick-start your training program and provide a higher course-completion rate.
Also, featured employees offer invaluable input to course improvement as well as communication support for the trainees. In their presence, a “pledge” to complete the course is automatically generated. Trainees feel a greater responsibility to perform well and complete the course. Arrange for a mid-course meeting to ensure everyone is on the right track. This is also a great time to collect feedback on their course-taking experience. Remember, an e-course development is an iterative process. Any feedback from surveys is worth its weight in gold. A post-course meeting will be a great event to collect testimonials, both in video and quotations to bring in more trainees to your courses! Finally, put up the employee profile, picture and e-portfolio on the company intranet as a “featured” employee has proven to be a successful motivating strategy. Don’t miss that one out!
Congratulations! You have impressed your learners. Your next course is already being anticipated.
Get some help!
Regardless of your encouraging and coaxing method, if you really want an intellectual organization, you will find a million methods to achieve it. Remember, you are not alone in this noble task. Be in touch with the Human Resources department as well as senior managers. They are your best source for ideas on motivating the unique culture in your organization. Meeting regularly enables exchange of ideas that are applicable in the current learning and working environment. As a training developer, your main task will be to liaison these knowledge sources in one room for a superior course planning, delivery and maintenance.