Using games to enrich learning is by no means new to the education industry. It’s not rare for elementary teachers to have students compete in order to show how much they’ve learned from the class, and several schools are still fond of holding education-based competitions like spelling bees and debate contests.
Gamification is the practice of essentially making games out of things that aren’t games. Don’t mistake this for making light of something serious, however—this is, simply put, putting game elements into something in order to keep the audience engaged. This is decidedly easy in a classroom setting: You can pit students against each other in little competitions. It gets a bit trickier when you’re creating modules for online training, which a student is meant to complete on their own.
Fortunately the gaming industry itself has no shortage of immersive single-player games that an educator can draw upon in order to motivate their learner to push just a little bit harder.
Always remember that the components to a game will always include 1) a win condition and 2) mechanics (a.k.a. rules). This can be as simple as ‘winning’ by getting a trivia question right, with the mechanics being your choice of whether the trivia is multiple choice or True/False. The idea here is to draw your ‘player’ (the learner) in by providing clear-cut “win or lose” scenarios in order to better motivate them to learn from the online training module.
With this in mind, here are a few tips for enhancing your gamified eLearning experience.
From the simple letter mark rating to player rankings along a ladder, people have a tendency to work harder when rankings are involved. Let people gauge how well they’re doing and they’ll be more ‘into’ what they’re learning.
A large part of gamer culture goes into recognizing achievements and showing them off. Credit someone’s achievements and allow them to share it with their peers—their showing off will make the learning feel ‘worth it’.
The simplest way to make someone work harder is to make the task harder. Time pressure, difficult questions, surprise challenges—these are just some ways to increase difficulty…and make overcoming the challenges that much more satisfying.
People feel good when they win—now motivate them to not lose. No need to be cruel, but make sure that the learner feels it when they fail.
The greatest beauty of gaming is the ability to try again when you fail—real life rarely offers that opportunity. Just because a learner failed the test, doesn’t mean they can’t have another go.
Remember that the idea is to enhance the eLearning with gamification, and not let the game take precedence over the knowledge you’re imparting. Put in just enough ‘gaming’ to make your eLearning module more interesting, but at the end of the day you’re still educating a learner here.
It’s all about achieving the right balance between fun, competition and education.
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