Gamification. Where Fun Meets Learning Success

Gamification in learning has been the talk of town for quite some time now. Continuously evolving technology and a demand for more digital learning, which has been intensified by remote work, also played a considerable role in its increase in demand.

According to Michelle Hübchen, Director of Learning Innovation at SAI360, despite its popularity, there have been many misconceptions of what exactly gamification in learning is. This is reflected by the many pieces of research, blogs and reports focusing on this topic. In this blog, Michelle’s aim is to shine a light on when and where gamification is applied best.

What is gamification in learning?

gamification of learning complianceSimply put, gamification is adding game-elements to a non-gaming environment. In e-learning, it is the strategic attempt to enhance learning experiences by creating similar experiences to those experienced when playing games in order to motivate and engage learners.

Game-like strategies that result in more successful learning experiences and include elements such as problem solving, a narrative, challenges, immediate feedback and rewards. This helps employees to become more engaged with the learning content and boost learning results, whilst still conveying the required content in an effective manner.

Gamification isn’t always a fit for learning

With gamification, we can upgrade learning tactics from multiple choice questions with a score and a gold star setup to a more fun and reward-based system. But it’s not a fit for every client and every learning experience, which is why we work closely with our clients to really understand their requirements and establish desired outcomes.

What is it that people really want when requesting gamification as part of their learning package? Is it the scores, the leaderboards, different achievement and reward levels? When we ask our clients this question, the response is often along the lines of: “We need our learners to be engaged, we would like to see an understanding of the information in a fun way.” Well, if that is the case, it might not be the scores, leaderboards and levels of a gamification approach, but instead an overall more engaging experience they are after.

How does e-learning become engaging and effective?

In short, the answer is: psychology.

When we reward someone through completing a task successfully and for achieving an outcome, our brains naturally releases dopamine, which positively affects our physical and emotional wellbeing. When we laugh and eat dark chocolate, it releases endorphins that create a general sense of wellbeing😊 Whilst we can’t share chocolate through e-learning, we can create humour where appropriate through engaging scenarios to release those happy-making endorphins.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another. It is created when we eliminate the stress of learning by offering the learner more focussed and engaging learning experiences and allow learners to have pleasant enjoyable experience.

So, what has this got to do with gamification in learning? Everything! When we create engaging, fun, rewarding and short learning game experiences, we produce all these happy brain hormones.

How to create an effective gamified learning experience

Introducing gamification to your learning program requires a good understanding of who your learners are and what resonates most with them to really drive engagement. Below are the key points to consider for your gamified learning journey:

Understand your audience

  • Spend time knowing who you are creating the content for.
  • Do the learners have any prior knowledge of the subject?
  • Knowing who you are creating the content for will help with designing the game appropriately.

Consider the key learning experience

  • How important is the information for their job role?
  • What needs to change as a result of the learning? Which outcomes do you expect?
  • Create a suitable scenario. It often creates a better learning context, if the scenario is based on a real-life setting. The story can be a reflection taking place in an everyday situation.
  • Map out the actual incident and consider the consequences.
  • Let your learners reflect by looking back at the scenario. This is the part that can set the experience apart and can create the interesting setting to capture your audience

Now add challenges and offer solutions and rewards

  • Once you have set the scene, challenge, engage, reward and give feedback.

Above all: keep it simple

  • Overcomplication with too many branches and levels can demotivate and waste valuable learning and work time.
  • Focus on the key topic and the results you want to achieve.

Gamification learning statistics that speak for themselves

Statistics from various sources showcase the effect gamification has on the learner experience:

    72% of employees said that gamification motivates them to work harder (Review 42, 2021).
    The conversion rates of websites with interactive content are nearly six times higher than those without it (Ceros, 2019).
    Gamification can increase company productivity by up to 50% and employee engagement by 60% (eLearning Learning, 2019).
    86% of young job applicants think that gamification at work is fun and enjoyable (ResearchGate, 2019)
    71% of employees believe that gamification leads to an increase in energy levels (eLearning Industry, 2020).
    • 66% of employees say that gamification at work reduced their stress levels (eLearning Industry, 2020).

Source: Finances Online

In Summary

Gamification is not just about scores and leader boards. Think creatively to offer a compelling learning experience in a challenging, rewarding environment. Keep it short and simple, but spend time on planning your story to have a natural flow and enough rewarding challenges built in.

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