October 15, 2020

Gamification improves learning and here’s why you should care

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A few months back, the world of education, training and anything related to learning, was faced with one of its biggest challenges: engaging students, at a distance, so everyone could still reach their goals. Though grown-ups, and kids, quickly grew tired of the Zooms and Teams solutions, it became clear that consumer behaviour was heading towards long-term change and maintaining fun, efficient learning environments was going to take more than what already existed.

At a time when attention spans are disbanding and households and businesses are struggling to define their new normal, you probably imagine that maintaining or enhancing engagement is no small feat. Fortunately, that’s not the case.

Any business owner knows that the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. Reinvention is key and your efforts to enable smart, effective learning will ultimately translate to human and financial growth.

This is where gamification comes in. You see, using game-like mechanics and dynamics in a non-game environment such as a learning platform, allows you to:

  • boost consumer or employee engagement
  • increase knowledge
  • influence behavior.

Interested? Let’s see how this all works.

What does gamification do exactly?

For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on aspects that are specifically relevant to the learning industry.

Gamification creates micro-habits that change outcomes

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In Atomic Habits, James Clear makes a compelling case for the power of micro-habits to change behaviour and favor whatever positive outcome you’ve set up for yourself. Gamification helps you reward the milestones that are necessary to achieve the learning goals. By breaking it down and highlighting accomplishments along the way, we carve out a success path and turn a huge chunk into palatable bites. Creating micro-habits that evolve into behavior patterns favor whatever outcome you’re trying to achieve.

Gamification offers real-time feedback.

Think about annual employee evaluations, or even report cards, for a minute. Traditionally, it took forever to know how you were doing and what needed to improve. Nudging was weak, with encouragement often imperceptible. Understanding that agility is key in our fast-paced world, we can probably agree that delayed gratification won’t work.

Gamification teaches and displays real-world applications

Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman suggested you should always teach something to make sure you truly understand it. Gamification gives learners the opportunity to see, experience and understand real-world applications. From that, your teams can imagine how they could use it for business outcomes and other tangible applications.

Gamification combines ease and efficiency

Centers on the user (UI and UX)

Gamification helps you feed information while a user is in action, versus giving loads of content prior to someone embarking on a path. This provides your user with a better sense of control over their learning environment, while also providing options in terms of learning paths.

Sets smart goals

With gamification you can set specific, measurable, relevant, challenging, yet attainable goals. By creating intelligent, intuitive paths, you make it simple and pleasing for users to engage with your tools. Tools can include quest lists, countdown timers, and narrative.

Regulates tempo

As mentioned above, you want learning to be challenging, but not overwhelming. American psychologist Carol Dweck, a pioneering researcher in the field of motivation studied why people succeed (or don’t) and how to actually foster success. Per Dweck, the secret lies in developing a ‘growth mindset’. Gamification finds that sweet spot between boredom and hyperstimulation. Relevant applications of this approach could be progress bars, levels and last-miles drives.

Keeps things exciting

If anything at all, gamification is exciting. This means a variety of rewards, channels, and fun ways to learn. Cues that engage, paths that make sense and kid-in-a-candy store level elation that makes learners want to come back. To achieve this, we use leaderboards, evolving UIs, and other game techniques.

Stacks and builds on knowledge

Though gamification makes things pleasurable, it’s built on hours and hours of programmed foundations. Solid groundwork creates the infrastructure to grow and withstand change, uncertainty, and beyond. Clear, deliberate paths are established to make learning successful, without users feeling restricted or constrained. Badges, points, and refreshing content help support this goal.

Work with the brain’s natural needs

Gamification uses the basics of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to help humans enhance their learning experience. The goal is to ignite passion for learning, so an individual completes a specific training course. Depending on the context, we aim for a sense of accomplishment, competitiveness, self-fulfillment, and pleasure. Here, virtual goods, elitism, and avatars come into play.

Encourages self-assessment and interaction

We can focus levels, categories, and specific challenges towards teams in specific locations, departments, and more. This creates awareness of competencies for both individuals and groups. Social involvement can be enhanced with friend invites and instant feedback, for example.

Sparks, triggers, provokes, and inspires

Maintaining motivation to progress is challenging at best. Gamification designs intuitive tools that ignite passion, nudge, encourage, recap, and reassure learners along the way. It’s technology adapted to normal human behavior. Countdown timers and lotteries are among the features that can support these reactions.

Sounds great. But how hard is it to implement?

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This is the best part: it’s not hard, overly costly, or frustrating. We know your IT team probably hates extra work. We do, too. The great thing about gamification is how easily it adapts and integrates. With a good authoring tool, you can even make the process seamless.

Last, but not least, gamification provides unbelievable ROI. Yes, unbelievable. Not only does it make learning fun and interactive, it’s a smart investment for your business. More learners, more growth. More growth, a better future. Need we say more?

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Igor Radić,

Funifier Partner & CEO

Expert in Change Management & Engagement Solutions

igor@funifier.com