In my last article I spoke about gamification in more general terms – find out more by clicking here.
Generally speaking, if you’re in the Learning and Development profession, you’ll have heard of the term ‘gamification’.
It’s the latest buzz word in training, applied to learning environments and learning content to secure engagement and get learners motivated and really enjoying the whole learning process. That’s it in theory – but how is gamification actually applied to training, and what results are being found?
In this article I’ll focus on ‘content’ gamification, i.e. how to gamify eLearning modules and training content itself. Next time, we’ll look at ‘structural’ gamification, which involves gamifying the learning platform. There’s a huge difference between the two, as you’ll see…
Sometimes it can be tricky to get learners engaged with their learning, particularly if it’s a topic that is seen as dull and boring. For example, no matter how important it is to the success of the business, learning about the laws and ethics that affect your industry is not exactly riveting.
But there is a way to make it more exciting and engaging: L&D can gamify the content. In other words, they can add ‘fun’ gaming elements like points, quizzes, leaderboards and badges to the eLearning module itself.
How does content gamification work?
In the spirit of making things more fun and engaging, instead of explaining what gamification in eLearning looks like, let’s follow a learner through his first eLearning module to discover how the training content can be gamified:
The first thing Luke Learner does when he logs on to his Learning Management System is check his status on the leaderboard. He’s still in second place but he’s nipping at Richard Reader’s heels – being only three badges behind, Luke will need to pull out all the stops to reach the top of the podium! (P.s. this is ‘structural’ gamification. More about it next time!)
So, now he knows that he needs four badges to be crowned top learner on the leaderboard, Luke checks out what eLearning modules he needs to work his way through. He sees that he has been enrolled on a fire safety course so he boots up the ‘Fire Safety 101’ eLearning unit. Instantly he’s awarded a badge, ‘Burning Embers’, for beginning his training – that’s one down, three to go!
Luke takes a look at the eLearning screen. In the top right-hand corner he sees a progress bar, which starts at ‘Safety Hazard’ and leads to ‘Fire Eater’. Each time Luke progresses through a topic in the eLearning unit – from ‘What to do in a fire’ to ‘Which fire extinguisher should you use?’ – he gets some points added to the progress bar. Not only does this reward him for each action, but it also shows him how long he has left of the module – which is really motivating!
To keep Luke on his toes, pop quizzes are set to appear during the eLearning module. When that happens, Luke has 30 seconds to select the right answer or he’ll lose a life – and if that doesn’t get his heart pumping and his excitement soaring, what will!? Luckily for Luke, he’s been paying attention, so he aces each and every quiz, gaining himself the ‘On Fire!’ badge for answering all questions correctly and the ‘Blazing!’ badge for answering them all within the time limit.
That means he’s gained three of the four badges he needs to overtake Richard on the leaderboard. He’s so close he can almost taste it!
As Luke works his way through the final slides of the eLearning module, he sees that the progress bar is almost full. He has just 30 more points to gain to ‘level up’… and whaddya know? He gets bonus points added to the total for completing the entire eLearning unit in one go. He levels up and gains the ‘Fire Eater’ badge – ‘firing’ him up to the top of the leaderboard!
Why does content gamification engage?
It should be pretty clear to readers that gamifying the learning content itself boosts engagement and gets learners motivated in their own development.
One theory of why this happens is Fogg’s behavioural model. Let’s get a little bit technical for a moment: there are, according to Fogg, three factors that influence behavioural change – motivation, ability and trigger.
In order for learners to change their behaviour (learn new things, go through the eLearning module and so on) they need to be motivated, able to do it, and triggered into action somehow.
You may have guessed what the trigger is here: points, badges and achievements! Gamification has the incredible effect of giving learners a metaphorical kick up the backside – it helps to push them over the ‘activation threshold’ that is holding them back from acting.
It’s superb that something as seemingly simple as awarding points for progressing through an eLearning unit can have such a huge effect on engagement, but the evidence is there.
Next time: how ‘structural’ gamification boosts learner engagement plus some incredible statistics that show just how effective it is!
Want to find out more about gamification? Come and visit us on stand E80 at the World of Learning Conference and Exhibition and see how gamification works in real life – there are a variety of badges up for grabs! If we’re half as busy as last year, you’ll probably want to book a slot to make sure you get to chat with us – click here to book a meeting with Growth Engineering.
Alternatively, you can sign up for a tour of our Academy Platform Learning Management System to see gamification in action!
About the Author: Juliette Denny is Managing Director of Growth Engineering, a multi-award winning learning technologies company with a mission to wage war on dull online learning. They do this by developing a gamified social learning platform that helps clients create vibrant, engaged learning communities that transform organisational performance. This platform – the Gamified Social Academy Platform LMS – was recently ranked the world’s best Next Gen LMS, best Gamified LMS and best Retail LMS.
In addition to leading a team of vibrant, creative individuals, Juliette is also a prominent speaker and industry expert. She has spoken at numerous conferences and exhibitions over the years, including the 2013 World of Learning Conference and Exhibition and the NextGen LMS event in Austin, Texas, in June 2014.
But Growth Engineering is not stopping there: in order to fulfil its goal to turn the world's zombie learners into learning legends, Growth Engineering has just launched Genie, a brand new game-based content authoring tool. Genie creates an engaging, enjoyable experience for both content creators – through its gamified interface – and learners, through the game-based eLearning units it easily creates.
Latest posts by Juliette Denny (see all)
- Help learners climb higher with scaffolding - July 6, 2015
- How Gamification on Learning Management Systems Works - September 9, 2014
- How to Gamify eLearning - September 2, 2014