In this article, I am going to introduce you a novel concept of Gamification that has been transforming a lot of aspects in the world of learning and development. Even in many of the MOOCs, this technique is being adopted for better learning outcomes. In this post, let me share you whether gamification really works for increasing learner engagement or not, but before that, it is necessary to explore this term little bit.

Games and game based elements have been penetrating in the learning arena for quite some time now.  Even though its definition varies, for the most part, a gamification in learning is the utilization of game mechanics to gamify the content in order to entice and engage users and learners by encouraging and rewarding use. Though, the term gamification was first coined in 2002, it has actually been there for around 40 years, with a number of organizations already applying the features in their work, taken from video games. Surely, we can say that target-based increments and bonuses, loyalty programs and employee of the year schemes are all instances of how gamification is being used since long as an incentive to progress and performance.

The latest trend in the business world has brought the incorporation of game world elements into the real world. The application of game based elements in non game based context is called gamification. The Pew Research Center report says that gamification is 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, free gifts, status indicators like re-tweets, friend counts, achievement data, leader boards and progress bars.

Educators started to adopt a reward structure of video games like badges for prominent achievements, into lesson planning. Incorporating gamification into classrooms becomes best when instructors or trainers are able to think of themselves as not just instructors, but also the game designers. Corporations like Samsung award badges within the company to motivate employees. The Nike+ iPhone app awards achievements to the runners. Yelp and Foursquare allocate badges as users check-in at locations through GPS in smart phones. Mozilla possesses a long list of businesses, schools and non profits that utilize their open badges to incorporate gamification. According to the description of one of the MOOCs named Werbach, businesses are adopting gamification in areas like human resource, marketing, training, sustainability, productivity enhancement, innovation, customer engagement and health and wellness.

It is highly recognized that incorporating interactive activities in e-learning are no more optional extras, but crucial to effective learning. However, it is necessary that inclusion of game based elements in the e-learning programs are just applied in the programming context that enable learner to apply his retained knowledge to real life situations, without any distraction from the overall learning goal. In the context of online business, when you see that the users are engaged, they tend to participate more enthusiastically on your business site, commenting, sharing, voting, posting, downloading, rating and performing other kinds of actions. It had been predicted by Gartner that 70 percent of the businesses would adopt at least one gamified application by 2014, which is proved true.

Now let’s talk about some non-internet cases you would immediately understand. The badges you see in scouting programs are game elements. Sewing a badge on Girl Scout uniforms gives your kids a sense of status and achievement which in turn highly motivates them to participate in troop. Another example is that when you get a punch card at a retail store that enables you to purchase 5 ice creams in order to get one free of cost, is actually a game element. The game elements are developed to increase user’s loyalty by giving concrete measure of growth and encouraging you to carry out particular tasks with a free product as the reward.

Personnel involved in Learning & Development and Human Resource is usually encountered with the issue of ensuring that their designed training and development programs are able to maintain learner motivation and engagement. Gamification is extensively been seen as the best solution for this issue. Especially, the gamification of e-learning clearly reflects unique opportunities for instructors and trainers as they discover additional means to educate and importantly achieve learner engagement.  Gamification can significantly increase the participation in human capital management processes like performance management e-learning, recruitment and so on. HR managers must integrate gamification to the processes having low voluntary participation and look beyond the conventional HCM vendors. In addition, IT manager change initiatives need radical effort to transform people’s behavior. Gamification gives the way to engage employees, and reinforce their behavior, while increasing the chances of project success.

Copyright Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.


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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.

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