If you design or develop e-learning, chances are you’ve heard the term “gamification.” What’s it all about? Simply put, gamification is the application of gaming elements and techniques to e-learning content in an effort to make it more engaging and fun. In other words, you use gaming mechanics to motivate learners to explore and learn.

Now, maybe you’re wondering, “So what are gaming elements or gaming mechanics?” They’re things like rules, narratives, levels, scores, and time constraints, which you can incorporate into your e-learning. There are a few advantages to “gamifying” your courses—let’s take a look at how these relate to e-learning:

Capture Learner Interest

Fact: Most people love games! From word games to board games to video games, they’re a popular pastime and a great way to have fun and enjoy yourself. Because games are fun, it’s exactly why you should incorporate gaming elements into your courses.

Capture your learner’s interest with gaming techniques such as the use of narrative, interactivity, and player control. Using a story with characters and a plot will hook your learners and make them want to find out what happens. Allowing for discovery piques your learners’ curiosity and encourages them to click around and discover your course content. Using these types of gaming elements, you can capture your learner and draw them into the course content, as opposed to just clicking the “next” button for more bullet points.

Increase Engagement & Retention

Once you’ve captured your learners’ interest, you want to keep them engaged. How? By constantly having them think and make decisions. Use gaming aspects to help achieve these goals: try a time-constraint to make learners think and react quickly to a question. Or, offer rewards and an opportunity to gain bonus points for questions answered correctly. These types of techniques require a learner to interact with the course content, which increases their engagement. And it goes without saying that the more interested and engaged your learners are, the more content they’ll retain when they’re back on the job!

Promote Healthy Competition

Competition is a natural and healthy human instinct. And gamification can be a great way to spur some competition, either amongst employees or even just against themselves. The gaming technique of continuous play—in other words, allowing learners to keep trying over and over—encourages a learner to compete against themselves and improve their own score. Some companies use leaderboards, rankings, or badge systems for employees to show how well they’re doing in their online training. Of course, you always want to approach these types of ideas carefully and be wary of showing personal scores or of making the lowest scorers feel badly. That aside, a dose of healthy competition can push some people to perform well.

All in all, there are so many gamification techniques from which to choose (one really great article to read is Gamification Techniques: How to Apply Them to E-Learning), and they can be really beneficial to the learner, making them feel like they’re having fun while learning. And if you can achieve that, then I’d say you’ve achieved success in your role!

Got a question about gamification? Please leave a comment below.

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Chris Wall

I love this idea, though a) I rarely see it done as I think it ought to be done, and b) I can never get approval for doing this the way I think it ought to be done. Think of it: create a sales training course that combines elements of something like the famous Broken Coworker to present content, then have the user make a selection based on what was just presented. Then you get feedback and information you need to put to use later in the course based on the selection you made. You also get scored. Now, if you have an LMS capable of doing this, create a leader board that shows everyone you're training, where they stand compared to each other. Obviously, one of the tricks is making the best choices not too obvious so that you see enough variations in the scores to make a leader board... Expand

wendy G