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Tricking people into learning using gamification

Over the past year at Quadmark, we have seen a distinct shift to online learning — a shift that has made it more important than ever to deliver memorable and engaging experiences. One of the most effective and innovative solutions we have found is gamification.

It’s easy to confuse gamification with games, but gamification is far more sophisticated. It involves applying game elements and thinking to non-game situations, like training, in a way that tricks people into learning. It’s based on the principles of “human-focused design”, a process that prioritizes human motivation and remembers that people have feelings, insecurities, and reasons why they do or don’t do certain things. 

Using gamification, training content can be transformed into something fun and enjoyable, which motivates participants to persevere in their learning, whether they realize it or not! As a result, gamification leads to increased engagement, motivation, and knowledge retention — all things that companies should look for when training their people. 

So, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can apply gamification to training.

Implementing gamification in learning

One way to incorporate gamification into learning is to place the key information within a story, also known as “content gamification”. Maybe your learners have to solve a mystery by playing the role of detective, or have to gather information from different characters to crack a code.

At Quadmark, we have used this method to turn a 3 hour certification course for Retail Sales Associates (RSAs) into an interactive game environment that includes mini-games, boss battles, and helpful journal entries to inspire better recall. The new course is structured around a quest where the learner has to save an entire village who have had their memories wiped by an evil character. To rescue the village, learners have to remind the villagers how to use settings, features, apps and more on their devices, before being tested on this knowledge by the end-of-level boss. With each level, they build their knowledge in order to get closer to their ultimate goal of defeating the villain. 

The villagers that the RSAs interact with have real-life customer problems, so they can take this knowledge straight out of the game to use on the shop floor. While the goal of defeating the villain might be what motivates the RSAs to continue, they are learning the core knowledge of the certification along the way in a fun and imaginative manner. By gamifying this course, not only have we been able to add interactive elements, but the course now takes half the time to complete.

Applying feedback to reinforce information

In a gamified environment, feedback is a great way of helping the player to proceed and making sure they learn as much as possible. There are different types of feedback to choose from, such as correctional feedback which guides the learner towards the right action, and explanatory feedback which explains why an answer is incorrect.

In our village-based adventure, we have included corrective feedback within each mini-game. As well as reinforcing information and guiding people towards the right action, this helps us to accommodate for learners with different levels of knowledge, providing a challenge while not making it too difficult for them to reach their goal.

Adding leaderboards to build competition 

If you want to keep your content the same, but need to make a more effective learning experience, why not try adding some game elements? You could include rewards and achievements such as points, badges and leaderboards, which can help learners to focus on the goal. Elements like leaderboards encourage competition and cooperation, whether that means a learner being able to show what they know or working in a team towards a common goal. Rewards could be physical certificates, prizes or virtual currency — whichever option you choose, rewards should celebrate learners’ abilities and help them to feel confident. These game elements could easily be incorporated into a face-to-face session too, so companies don’t have to rely on technology for fun learning.

Understanding the enjoyment value of gamification

Fun and enjoyment has been directly linked to successful learning and increased wellbeing. In a study by Dorothy Lucardie in 2012, where 40 adult students and nine teachers were interviewed, 63% of learners said fun and enjoyment impacted their learning, improving their concentration and making them more likely to “have a go” at something if it was explained in a fun way. And importantly, increased enjoyment led to increased engagement and retention rates, because learners associated the knowledge with the fun experience.

Learning can also be more enjoyable when it involves social interaction. Gamification allows you to incorporate social engagement into learning, through competitive or cooperative tasks. This has the added value of creating discussion points outside of the “classroom”, so participants continue their learning through conversations with each other. Social aspects like new friendships increase participation rates and encourage learners to motivate each other, ensuring that they are more likely to return to or continue the training.

Time to get your game on! 

At Quadmark, we love working on projects that use gamification to create an incredible experience for learners. However, there are a few things to bear in mind when considering gamification.

1. Identify an educational need for gamification, rather than applying it to any project. Remember, it’s all about the user and what they will get out of the experience, so make sure this is the best format for the project before proceeding.

2. Don’t forget the learning. While gamification helps to trick people into learning by giving them a clear goal, the learning content should be at the center of the game. Start with the end in mind — think of the business outcome and pin down those learning objectives, ensuring that all the activities feed into at least one of these. 

3. A clear outline is key to ensuring that the gamification experience matches and enhances the learning points. Let participants build their knowledge with each stage or level, so their learning provides the path to their end goal. Keep it simple.

 So what are you waiting for? Get in touch to see how we can help you build your next gamified learning experience.

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