When it comes to the success of an eLearning gamification program, you’re in the driver’s seat
While gamification was predicted to be the next big thing in eLearning, and while we wait to see more of that conclusive data come in, there are still some things we need to understand about how gamification works in order to decide whether or not it’s successful.
Games are typically something a person plays voluntarily, for fun, and when they stop having fun, they can quit. The idea of forcing fun on employees in a learning environment is what professor Ethan Mollick of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business refers to as “Mandatory Fun.” In his research, Mollick found that a lack of consent can actually lower performance attitude. Mollick is quoted asking, “Are we moving away from what makes games special or amazing when we try to break it down, study, and apply it?”
Trying to measure something that is intended to be fun is fraught with variables that can make it inherently difficult to measure. However, as it relates to eLearning, “fun” isn’t the end goal. Gamification is unsuccessful if it’s too focused on endpoints and rewards: points, badges, loyalty programs, etc. Rather, the focus should be on engaging learners in activities that lead to the behaviors your company needs employees to exhibit, or the tasks you need them to complete.
What Successful Gamification Looks Like
There are a few things that need to be in place for gamification to work in eLearning programs. First, it needs to include a challenge. This is what makes games engaging. If a game isn’t challenging, people will find it too easy and lose interest.
Second, the game needs to contain feedback loops. This is another way of providing engagement. Most training programs don’t provide feedback until the end, if at all. Gamification should include both positive and negative feedback loops. Positive feedback loops reinforce relationships and reward players for activities that produce favorable results. Those rewards are things like points, badges, leaderboards and levels.
In a negative feedback loop, when a player does something unfavorable, they are “punished” for it, reinforcing what shouldn’t be done. This includes things like losing game points or health points. What’s important about feedback loops is their immediacy. In real life, feedback doesn’t occur as quickly. In gamification, participants receive feedback and can correct behavior in real time. This hopefully translates to the long-term behavior that a company is striving toward.
Third, eLearning gamification should always maintain a level of uncertainty. What keeps a player engaged is not knowing what’s going to happen. They aren’t sure they’re going to win or be able to answer the next question. Uncertainty takes away the predictability that leads to boredom with training curriculum or departmental workflows. The unknown helps foster an environment where people will naturally compete with each other and push themselves to try harder. In the process, the player becomes a learner and begins to improve their performance in a manner that supports company goals.
Getting Started with Gamification
If you’re thinking of adding gamification to your eLearning programs, you’ll need to decide not only how to apply game techniques, but what tools you’ll need to administer them. In many cases, modern learning management system software will include built-in features for gamification, which is helpful since you can manage every aspect of your program from a single platform. This option also tends to be much more affordable than standalone gamification apps or custom-built systems.
Though still relatively new in the world of eLearning, gamification is gaining wider adoption every year as companies seek to improve productivity and do a better job engaging their employees. Does it really work? Well, that’s up to you.
Get in the driver’s seat yourself and get a taste of gamification in eLearning by trying Docebo today. No cost, no commitment, and no credit card required.