While we know a lot about how learning works, there are still many secrets to unlock. One of the latest trends sweeping the L&D world is gamification. So how does gamification in learning work and should it form part of your corporate learning plans? 

Gamification in learning decoded

Games and game-based elements have been part of the learning landscape for quite some time and here, in a nutshell, is what it means.

Gamification in learning is the utilization of game mechanics to gamify the content to entice and engage users and learners by encouraging and rewarding use.

Quite a mouthful isn’t? Let’s unpack this and explain why game elements in training are not just child’s play but make learning a seriously effective process.

Gamification: A safe bet

While the term Gamification was first coined in 2002, it has actually been around for around 40 years.

Ever gambled in a casino? Maybe not but there are certain elements of casino-based gaming that provide powerful psychological incentives to get involved and stay gambling.

Demystifying the Modern Learner

How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

To increase learner engagement and team collaboration, many companies are incorporating these incentives into their corporate training programs. For example, the use of game-related rules, principles, and wins in a non-game context to visualize progress, encourage and motivate learners.

This increases time spent learning, collaboration among learners, knowledge retention and incentivizes the learner to actively contribute to training by putting them in charge of their own professional development.

All work and no play?

What Gamification actually does is reflect what the successful design and implementation of game experiences can tell us about human behaviour and engagement.

Gamification doesn’t call for the explicit use of actual games, or some notion of ‘play’.

What it actually does is reflect what the successful design and implementation of game experiences can tell us about human behavior and engagement.

Think about your day-to-day life and the challenges it presents. Professional or personal; individual or social; competitive or collaborative; mandatory or optional. So many elements of our day to day lives are affected by the same principles that are prevalent in the modern-day design of video games or board games. With that in mind try thinking of gamification in learning like this; as a way of designing human interactions.

Pay attention class…

If it isn’t too painful a process, think back to your school days where teachers would use a reward structure to celebrate prominent achievements. This is where teachers became more than mere educators.

Giving out a well-planned reward structure featuring well-earned trinkets such as a certificate or a small prize made them more akin to game designers.

Gamification can significantly increase the participation in not only learning processes but, for example, HR functions.

The latest trend in business brings game world elements into the real world. A report published by the Pew Research Center talks about gamification in learning as an interactive online interface that plays with learner’s competitive instincts and usually integrates rewards for deriving action.

The rewards include payments, points, discounts, badges, gifts, status indicators like re-tweets, friend counts, achievement data, leaderboards and progress bars.

With familiar echoes of our best and most rewarding gamified lessons, businesses are now adopting gamification in areas like human resources, marketing, training, sustainability, productivity enhancement, innovation, customer engagement and health and wellness.

Further reading

How Gamification Drives Learner Motivation

Game-on for effective learning

What helps to make a game successful, engaging, and motivating could deal with learner engagement in the same way.

By including game-based elements in professional learning programs, learners are given the ability to apply the knowledge gained to real-life situations without any distraction from the overall learning goal.

Apply this idea to Modern Learning delivery techniques like online programs and microlearning, users are engaged and tend to participate more enthusiastically.

They are compelled to share, vote, post, download, rate and perform other interactive actions. Any sense of a didactic experience is all but eliminated by creating a learner experience that draws the learner in. Who could argue with the idea that we are better at learning when we want to learn?

Look at your learning programs, especially the ones that aren’t exactly sparking enthusiasm among the learners themselves. Gamification in learning can significantly increase the participation in not only learning processes but also, for example, HR functions.

Now imagine how performance management and recruitment could benefit from the engagement opportunities provided by Gamification.

Go on, admit it. You love to play games. Who could have predicted when we were young enough to play Twister without embarrassment that the motivations that compelled us to play games as a child might make us more motivated to learn long after childlike behaviors had left us.

After all, playing is serious business when it comes to learning.