Gamification of Learning

The gamification of learning: key for learning in the workplace

"Those who believe in using games in a learning environment usually start from a common set of assumptions. They observe that game players regularly exhibit persistence, risk-taking, attention to detail and problem solving skills, all behaviours that ideally would be regularly demonstrated in the workplace"(Klopfer, Osterweil and Salen).

I recently read a fantastic paper published by the ‘National Summit of Educational Games’. The evidence they presented was staggering and got me thinking about how training is delivered. They suggested that learners can only recall 10% of what they read in a course and only 20% of what they hear. This could be things like e-learning, PDF’s or listening to a recording of a seminar. I was surprised by such low figures.

If you add a few pictures and visual aids into your slides, the percentage of knowledge retained increases to 30%. Clearly that puts us on the right track here, especially for the visual learners out there, but surely we can do better than that.

If learners observe someone carrying out an action whilst explaining it, the percentage of knowledge retained increases to 50%. So demonstrating a task, such as how to operate the coffee machine in the kitchen, whilst you explain will help learners to retain half of the knowledge shown.

However, here is the big reveal, learners remember up to 90% if they carry out the job themselves. This could be in either a realistic or a simulated scenario. If we get learners actively involved in what they are trying to learn, nearly all the knowledge can be retained.

There is a significantly increased appetite for learners to control their own learning experiences and so learning providers must be responsive to this need.

The question is this: how do we enable learners to construct their understanding actively and at their own pace? The answer… read on!

The gamification of learning

Gamified learning can enable each learner to advance on different paths at different rates depending on their interests and abilities, whilst also encouraging collaboration, engagement and ‘just-in-time’, on-demand learning. Where do I sign up?!

The facts are clear. We all like to play! So why not use this to our advantage in the workplace?

As a planet, we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video or computer games with over 5 million people playing an average of 45 hours a week! A survey by TalentLMS suggested that 50% of people play computer or mobile games casually, with a further 27% stating they played moderately to fairly often. This represents an overwhelming majority and is certainly something which could be exploited in order to make learning more engaging and interactive.

But don’t just take my word for it! Game-based learning reflects a growing trend within the learning industry. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development carried out a survey of 529 Learning and Development professionals across a number of sectors and found that 69% were ‘extremely’, ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ confident that ‘Gamified Learning’ would increase in use over the next two years.

Gaming and interactive learning has grown in popularity as businesses strive to achieve results in very competitive markets. As I said at the start of this article traditional methods of learning may not be able to deliver the desired results and so new methods are emerging. There is a definite need for a more ‘hands on’ approach to learning which puts the learner in charge.  

I hear you all shouting… "That’s great!… but how do we do it?"

Well, there are a variety of forms that gamified learning can take, and below are two of the what I think are the most effective: Progress Based and Social Based Gamification.

Progress Based Gamification

Progress is one of the most motivating elements of game play. I know that when I complete a level on Candy Crush I can’t put it down until I have at least attempted the next level! The use of progress based games in learning can motivate employees by using a variety of ‘carrots’ and ‘sticks’. These include: points, badges and progress bars. When an employee accrues points for completing a task, they feel a sense of achievement which will motivate them to continue to play and continue to learn.

Results from a survey by Talent LMS confirm the positivity of progress based learning with 29% of people surveyed stating that they would find ‘Progressing to different levels’ interesting or appealing, 27% thought the same about a ‘Points based system’ and 26% would find ‘Progress bars’ appealing.

Social-Based Gamified Learning

Another idea I think is important when talking about gamified learning is the social aspect.

Games have the ability to bring people together. The sense of community motivation when ‘good play’ is recognised, is not lost when you take it out of the gaming context. Creating and promoting gamified learning which has a social aspect at its base will give employees a place to interact with co-workers, share best practice, promote healthy competition and praise good work. This will likely reinforce a sense of collaborative working and increase morale and motivation. These qualities are exactly what we need in our workforce and the qualities we want our people to demonstrate!

At Cloudreach, Cloudy Uni is implementing some of these ideas and very soon the Growth and Development team will be releasing them into the Cloudreach World. When you complete an assignment on a course, a test, or finish a module, you will be awarded points. Points mean prizes which will allow you to gain badges, ‘level up’ and compete against your colleagues in leaderboards, within your teams and the business as a whole.

So now it is over to you: How are you going to get involved? Will you lean towards the social aspects, appreciating your fellow employees for their hard work and recognising their good play? Or are you gunning for first place on the podium and your name in lights?

Whatever you decide, this friendly competition is designed to encourage you to continue to try to gain points, progress, and learn a few things along the way!


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