Creating engaging content that drives engagement and helps your learners master information and move forward can be very challenging. It requires a deep understanding of the topic area, mastery of content creation, and design skills that help present that information in an engaging, palatable way. Gamification elements are critical in that process.

Gamification has become a buzzword in L&D circles. As a process, it can help improve engagement, bolster retention, and accelerate progress. However, not all gamification elements are created equal.

For HR professionals, it is important to understand emerging gamification trends, how they apply to corporate learning and development, and which are “must-haves” for their efforts. In this post, we will take a deeper dive into what you should know, particularly in light of the pandemic, as we move forward into 2021.

Understanding the Must-Have Gamification Elements for L&D Content

Why You Should Care

Before we get too far into the discussion about trends and must-have gamification elements, let us address one critical question – why does it matter? Simply put, it’s all about learner success. For instance, according to some sources, gamification can boost employee engagement by 60% and improve employee productivity by 50%. Couple that with the fact that 85% of employees are willing to spend more time within a gamified learning environment, and the importance of gamification should be clear.

Important Gamification Elements

It’s important to understand that gamification comes in many different forms. You don’t necessarily need to convert content into an actual digital game to take advantage of these trends, either. While that is certainly one route to go, you can also add any of the four must-have gamification elements to your LMS to bolster engagement.

Points and Badges – One of the key ways to boost engagement and help encourage learners to move forward is to provide them with tangible signs of progress and success. Points and badges give them exactly that. In a sense, both points and badges provide concrete evidence of progress and success. That encourages future performance, as well.

Leaderboards – A sense of playful competition can encourage better engagement and spur learners to spend more time in the LMS. One way to foster that sense of competition is to use leaderboards. Basically, these take points earned for completing content and translate them into a visual format that highlights who is outperforming whom.

This type of setup is used in many different scenarios. For instance, in the language learning app Duolingo, users are awarded points for completing lessons, which translate to a position on the leaderboards. However, as other learners complete lessons, they move up, too, and may displace other learners, moving them down the list. The app then sends notifications that the learner has been knocked out of place and encourages them to complete more to retake their position or even improve their standings.

User Challenges – This gamification element is less used than leaderboards or points/badges, but it can provide some much-needed engagement and help encourage learners to spend more time in the system. User challenges can be customized to almost any degree, but they generally share a few similar characteristics.

challenges offer something of value in exchange for the learner returning to the system within the specified time. For instance, they might gain extra points for completing an extra session during the week, or they could earn a unique badge by completing a specific training module. They also tend to include some degree of exclusivity or rarity that makes them a point of pride for the learner.

Rewards – Finally, a robust gamification strategy takes into account the fact that users want more than just points or badges. There should be a way to translate those earnings into something more tangible. For instance, learners might be able to turn in points for cash, trade badges for paid time off, or earn actual physical prizes for participation and high scores.

Adding these elements to your L&D strategy can offer major benefits across the board. However, it is also important to couple that with knowledge of emerging trends as we head into 2021 and beyond.

Trends in eLearning and Gamification

While many trends intersect within the gamification sphere, several stand out for their value and popularity. These include the following:

  • More Gamified Content – Look for more and more content to go the gamified route. This goes beyond points and badges and includes creating experiential content that mirrors actual games. For instance, rather than reading several pages of text, a learner might navigate a character through situations that mirror what would have been taught in the content.
  • Levels – Leveling up is a major part of the gaming experience, and it can translate very well into L&D initiatives. You can easily integrate levels into the process to encourage learners to move forward to the next stage of their journey.
  • Social Connection – Social learning is a big trend in L&D, and it can also connect to your gamification strategy. Connecting learners together through social elements within your LMS or via a mobile L&D-focused app can help create a more engaging experience, foster a sense of competition, and more.
  • AI – Artificial intelligence, or AI, is used all around us today. Your L&D content should be no exception. You can combine AI and gamification in several key ways that help make the learner experience better and more streamlined, ranging from using AI to assess learner retention and leveling up, to AI-generated pathways through gamified content.

The Future Is Fun

“Fun” often sounds frivolous. However, when it comes to learning and development, you cannot afford to have dry, boring content. That drives down engagement, information retention, and success. However, when you use gamification to create a sense of fun and enjoyment, learning becomes more engaging and learners are happy to progress at a faster rate. Ultimately, it also bolsters information retention and overall success.

At eLeaP, we understand the importance of gamification, and we developed our LMS with that in mind. Contact us to learn more about how to create better engagement with gamified elements.