When you think about in-house training and development, what comes to mind? Is it a boring tutorial that your employees must read through on the computer? Is it an endless series of multiple-choice questions?
If that sounds familiar, then chances are good that your learning management results are pretty lacking. The good news is that gamification can help bolster greater engagement, ensure improved knowledge retention, and even get your employees excited about learning. What is gamification and how does it benefit your employees?
What Is Gamification?
Gamification is nothing more or less than building game-play elements into your eLearning system. It takes the traditional learning process and stands it on its ear. Gamification is all about improving engagement and getting your learners to actively participate in the learning process, rather than being passive observers who checked out the second they logged into the system.
What Benefits Does Gamification Offer?
Think back to the last time you played a game. It could be any game. Were you bored? Were you a passive observer? Did you sit back and count the seconds until you were done? Chances are good that you answered no to those questions, and so will your employees when gamification is introduced into your eLearning system. To help you understand this, though, we need to highlight the key benefits to your employees and why those benefits matter to you, the employer.
Think about this for a second. How do you learn and retain information better – by watching someone one do it, or reading about it, or by actually doing it yourself? For most people, the latter is true. You learn better and retain that learning by doing something yourself, rather than reading about it or watching a video.
Sadly, most learning management systems still focus on text-based activities supplemented by training videos. Gamification allows you to increase the interactivity of your eLearning program and essentially allow your employees to learn by doing. When employees are required to participate and interact with the eLearning system, it forces a deeper knowledge of the materials and makes the approach more realistic.
When was the last time you learned well and retained information when you were bored out of your mind? Think back to your high school or college experience – those lectures were sleep-inducing, weren’t they? Then why would you expect your employees to be engaged in that type of format? With gamification, you create a fun environment where employees actively look forward to participating. They no longer struggle to keep their eyelids from closing – they’re actively clicking the mouse, answering questions, and performing actions within the eLearning environment.
With traditional eLearning, you find out your score when you finish a test or complete the module. That’s not all that great for ensuring that employees learn the material. With gamification, they get immediate feedback, which allows them to adjust their strategy and really inculcate the material they’re supposed to be learning. They receive feedback throughout the training process, which allows them to improve their performance on the fly.
Let’s face it. Your employees are probably less enthused about completing their training than they should be. That’s understandable. Who wants to sit in front of a computer monitor for 30 minutes or an hour reading text and answering questions? It’s dull and boring. It saps their motivation. However, with gamification, the reverse is true. Training becomes something that your employees look forward to completing, and they are motivated to build their skills and contribute to the organization.
Keeps Them Engaged
Perhaps the most significant benefit of gamification is that it keeps your employees engaged. Ultimately, this leads to better information retention, necessary behavioral changes, and improvements across all departments within your business or organization. After all, the more learning your employees retain, the better able they will be to put that knowledge to work in their daily duties. That, in turn, builds positive new habits while improving workflows and efficiency.
Understanding the Elements of Gamification
Now that we have explored some of the most important benefits gamification can offer your employees, it’s time to consider the elements used.
Story – One of the most important elements of gamification is the storyline. Think of it as the common thread that runs through an employee’s entire eLearning process and that keeps them engaged and connected with the material.
Challenges – All games have some sort of challenge that must be overcome. In the eLearning process, the challenges should be mapped to learning objectives and/or business goals.
Level Progression – Each employee should have the ability to progress at their own pace, but also through their own level progression. With each completed challenge, employees move on to face a new level and new challenges, thereby learning new skills but also building on their existing skills and knowledge. Ultimately, an employee’s learning progression should create a learning path unique to them.
Rewards – Give your employees rewards throughout the eLearning process. These could be mini-games, badges, a spot on the leaderboard, or something else completely.
Points – Employees should earn points for completing challenges and advancing levels. Those points can be mapped to a scoreboard or leaderboard to add in a bit of competition between employees.
Information – The data generated by employees completing levels and overcoming challenges should be mapped to their profile and stored within the eLearning system. This provides at-a-glance access to information about what levels an employee has completed, which ones they have not, areas where they might need greater focus, and more.
Gamification can provide some pretty important benefits for your employees. However, it can also offer significant advantages for your business. From engaging employees to building stronger teams, gamification is one of the hallmarks of modern learning management and should be present to some degree in virtually all eLearning systems.