Gamification of education is all about making the learning experience more interesting, exciting, and sticky by applying the very same theories and techniques that make games fun and addictive. This approach to learning assumes greater significance in remote or virtual educational programs that are for the major part based on self-learning. Unsupervised digital learning requires full involvement and committed effort from the learners. It is only then they get to benefit from the learning experience. Gamification makes eLearning highly interactive, encouraging the learner to consume digital content without getting distracted or bored.
Beating the Drudge of Monotonous Texts and Self-Learning
Stories and games have played an important part in educating children and youngsters for generations, no matter the culture or geography. War games prepared armies of youngsters for their battles and board games such as Chess helped work on military strategies. However, in a conventional setting, personal interactions demanded players’ attention and full participation allowing them a better chance of learning a thing or two.
Though eLearning programs too are designed to promote active involvement and interactivity, learners tend to lose interest or attention at times, more so if the content is complex or verbose. Self-learning can get monotonous when there is no scope for involvement or collaboration. Adding fun elements to online learning helps beat boredom. They also make it easier for learners to understand and remember what is being taught or explained.
How Gamification Influences Learning?
The main purpose of games is to entertain and engage players, encouraging them to compete hard and eventually win the play. Gamification strives to trigger the same responses in learners by adopting a healthy mix of entertainment and education. Using games and stories (real-life examples) in eLearning content serves to:
- Break the monotony and stress typically associated with learning.
- Motivate learners to progress through the lessons in anticipation of the next challenge or game.
- Boost involvement.
- Encourage learners to revisit lessons, practice sessions and self-assessments to boost confidence levels.
- Enhance assimilation and recollection.
Gamification, when planned and implemented right, can make learning fun and rewarding.
Is Gamification Effective?
While games and stories may be suitable for teaching children and youngsters, is gamification the right approach to deliver higher education or corporate training? Games and hence gamification too, happen to have an eternal appeal, no matter the type of learning or the age-group of the learners. Several studies and research programs reaffirm the effectiveness of gamification in keeping learners motivated and involved in the learning process, eventually enabling them to successfully achieve their learning objectives.
Signature characteristics that make gamification effective:
The positive impact of the learn-via-play approach is attributable to key principles that are characteristic of games:
- An interesting plot or scenario
- A well-defined goal
- Exciting challenges en route to the goal
- Rules to follow
- Clues and tools to tackle challenges
- Rewards and penalties
- Navigation control
- Interactivity and feedback
While the learning process begins playfully, it gets increasingly informative and educative as learners progress through different levels or modules of the course or program. Throughout the course, learners face both routine and surprise challenges that usually:
- Allow them to explore different learning paths
- Reveal nuggets of “good-to-know” information
- Unlock access to additional features or privileges (access to an external webinar, extra time to submit an assignment,etc.)
- Earn rewards (badges, points, etc.)
- Promote healthy competition (via leaderboards)
The success of gamifying digital learning though depends on how well course creators are able to apply gaming principles to eLearning.
Increased use of gamification in Microlearning and corporate training programs
Both Microlearning and Gamification work wonders when it comes to capturing and retaining learner attention. Each of these methodologies has its own benefits and appeal. Gamification of Microlearning, however, is like the icing on a delicious cake. Gamified, concise, and relevant digital content has a special appeal, more so if there is a good choice of games associated with a specific topic or concept.
Microlearning is fast gaining popularity as an increasing number of people now can afford smartphones; an ideal medium to access small nuggets of content as and when needed. Given the technical capabilities of smartphones, it may be possible to enhance the effectiveness of microlearning with gamification, without compromising on connectivity and accessibility aspects. The challenge, however, is to ensure that learners will still be able to access the spruced up learning material without having to invest in expensive personal devices.
The role of gamification in corporate training programs is quite significant as these programs usually are purposed to address specific skill gaps, build specific competencies, or provide compliance training. When combined with microlearning to facilitate learning outside work hours, gamification can vastly enhance the effectiveness of corporate training. Typical applications of gamified microlearning include but aren’t limited to offering:
- Personalized gamified learning paths for each employee
- Gamified assessments and recommendations for performance improvement
- A secure simulation environment to explore and apply learning without the fear of failure or costly errors.
- Incentivized opportunities to further expertise or skills
The allure of an exciting game is hard to beat. Some games have an eternal appeal that causes players to revisit the game frequently. Gamifying digital learning also has a similar effect on learners, when done right. It draws learners into the experience and triggers their interest and curiosity. It also enables learners to hone, test, and apply their knowledge until they become proficient and confident enough to progress through each stage of the course. The learning process is no longer daunting, but quite enjoyable. With self-assessments and practice sessions gamified, bridging knowledge gaps becomes stress-free. Every time the learner attempts an assessment or practice session, learning is reinforced. Repetitive learning makes it easier to recollect when it is time for final assessments.
Using a reliable learning management platform like ScholarLMS that supports gamification will prove quite helpful to experiment with different gaming techniques and incorporate them into digital learning content for the eLearning experience to be both enjoyable and effective.