Getting Started Is Easier Than You May Think
By Mohana Radhakrishnan, VP Client Services, Expertus
Does your organization seek a more engaging way to develop skills, boost performance and drive innovation? Chances are, you’ve considered gamification.
This isn’t about playing foosball at work. Rather, it’s about human-focused design that applies gaming techniques in non-game situations to drive interest, participation and engagement.
Ideal scenarios combine instructional design concepts and game dynamics (such as rewards and recognition systems) to create engaging interactive learning experiences.
What’s The Upside?
Why are game mechanics so appealing to humans? As noted at the recent HR Technology conference, Gartner associates four powerful psychological payoffs with the “Game Economy”:
- Self-Esteem − Leadership, progress, praise
- Fun − Discovery, delight, excitement
- Social Capital − Contribution, connections, status
- Things − Resources, points, rewards
Game mechanics can easily align these incentives with learning objectives, for successful outcomes. How successful?
Some experts estimate that game-based approaches increase the ability to learn new skills by as much as 40%. and learning transfer by as much as 85%.
No wonder so many learning organizations — from Microsoft to the U.S. Army — have added it to their training repertoire.
Business Rallies Around Gamification
This is more than just a flash-in-the-pan buzzword. Momentum is strong for game-based methods that improve business performance in a variety of functions — from marketing and customer experience management to talent management and workforce learning. The trends are compelling:
- Scientific American declared it one of 10 “world-changing ideas” in 2010
- Gartner predicts that 50% of corporate innovation processes will be “gamified” by 2015
- Pew Research expects that “serious game” mechanics will be embedded in daily life by 2020
- M2 Research estimates that the global market for gamification apps and services will grow to $2.8 billion by 2016
Obviously, gamification is going to play a huge part in our daily lives. In fact, it already does. So, how can learning organizations create an effective game plan?
Winning With Game-Based Learning
There’s tremendous upside for organizations that apply gamification for improved learning ROI. That’s because game dynamics promote more effective learning, while incorporating methods to track and verify progress. Popular gamification elements include:
- Published goals and progress tracking
- Level-based reward structures
- Badges that represent skills mastery
- Contests and leaderboards
Contests are particularly useful for proof-of-concept programs, because they easily motivate participants, and they’re relatively simple for training organizations to develop, promote, administer and support.
But no matter what game mechanics you choose, remember to consider context. In other words, for best results, structure games so that learners can apply retained knowledge to real-world workplace situations. Gaming elements should naturally help move participants toward specific development objectives — rather than distracting them or demotivating them by “dumbing down” the learning process.
LMS Support for Gamification
Several next-generation LMS platforms provide capabilities that facilitate game-based learning. For example, the ExpertusONE cloud LMS features a gamification module to drive point-based contests.
Here’s how it works: As learners complete relevant activities within the LMS, they’re awarded points — which in turn are converted to badges (“bragging rights!”). For example, points are awarded when a learner completes an assigned training class, or purchases a predetermined level of e-learning content, or performs various social tasks such as rating/reviewing courses, interacting with discussion forums, or using the share feature.
Participants can keep track of their points and badges with a detailed status snapshot on their LMS profile page. This boosts motivation and makes it easy to follow individual progress. In addition, participants see their progress relative to others, thanks to a centralized leaderboard that showcases top scorers and their profiles. This comparative worldview gives participants even more incentive to pursue their learning goals.
Play To Win
Are you ready to get started, or expand your scope? Even if you see tremendous potential in game-based learning, its smart to start small, and think strategically:
- Develop a Business Case — Determine your business goals; assess audience readiness, reach out to the learning community for benchmarks, guidance and lessons learned.
- Secure Sponsorship — Seek financial and operational support from business leaders with a vested interest in transforming organizational culture, boosting performance and/or driving innovation.
- Choose a Methodology — Select an approach that best fits your learning objectivesv, business context and audience profile. Many organizations start with contests, because they’re low-cost, universally loved, and easy to implement.
- Select Game-Friendly Technology— Look for a highly customizable platform with capacity to provide a personalized gamification experience across devices. Ideally your tools should integrate seamlessly with your LMS and other systems, while providing robust reporting for learners and managers.
- Implement a Pilot — Identify the best pool of candidates for an isolated trial and customize a test for that group. If no test phase is possible, plan a phased roll-out to minimize risk.
- Measure Success — Record baseline data to establish benchmarks; develop metrics based on engagement and learning outcomes; measure and analyze results throughout the test phase.
- Revise and Expand — Periodically assess what’s working (or not); tune and tweak on an ongoing basis.
Gamification: What Have You Got To Lose?
What are your thoughts on the role of game dynamics in learning? Have you tested this concept? Are you using it now? What results are you seeing? In coming months we’ll write more about this topic, so we welcome your ideas and opinions.
Note from Mohana: Would you like to discuss how your organization can integrate game mechanics with learning programs? We’re happy to help. Please contact us anytime for a personalized demo.
Image Credit: Pixabay