Why does gamification work? Because it makes learning enjoyable and efficient? To an extent. Because it engages learners? One of the supplementary reasons. Because it rewards us with something other than learning? Now we’re getting somewhere.
Gamification is effective due to it being a type of behavior enforcement training. It works because it taps into our natural instincts – competition, exploration and curiosity. Gamification has very little to do with games, and more with the psychology that games use to get us addicted to them. The idea is to get learners addicted to learning by rewarding them for their learning. Gamification harbours elements used to gamify an eLearning course, such as points, levels, badges, power-ups, leaderboards and star bars. They help give learners a sense of achievement when they collect points, level up, get a badge or a power up, get their name high on a leaderboard and finally get a certificate for developing a skill. It is something that has been scientifically designed to trick our brains into getting hooked to learning. But, in addition to tricking people into getting addicted to learning, gamification has a number of real-life benefits. Let’s have a look at those.
Gives Them A View Of The Real World
In the real world, each action a person takes has a consequence. Because gamification is usually designed to simulate practical, real-life scenarios, it helps to cement skills by letting learners apply them in a safe, virtual space where a mistake will lead to a negative consequence, like loss of points or levelling down, while a correct action will give them rewards, like levelling up and badges. Employees learn to understand that their real-life actions will have real-life consequences too. This is a carrot-and-stick analogy that forms the very basis of learning.
Makes Them Competitive
Human beings have a desire to compete, both with themselves, as well as with others, and win. Gamification fuels this desire, and teaches employees to be competitive, a quality that is a requisite in corporate organizations. By showing learners their own statistics, gamified eLearning courses motivate them to beat their personal bests and push themselves further and harder. Leaderboards, on the other hand, teach healthy competition with colleagues.
Teaches Them Teamwork and Collaboration
Being too competitive, however, especially with one’s teammates can be a problem, and thus gamified eLearning courses usually include activities where winning is impossible without teamwork, in order to keep the spirit of competition in check. Teamwork and collaboration are necessary qualities for one’s success in the corporate world and reinforcing these will go a long way by transforming learners into efficient and productive employees.
Gives Them Freedom To Explore
Curiosity is another one of the basest driving instincts in human beings. By giving learners the freedom to make multiple choices, the consequences of which they might not know, gamified eLearning courses intrigue learners. Every choice they make helps them learn something, which is the whole point. In a way, it is teaching learners to explore their options in real life and be curious about learning new things.
Teaches Them About Rules
We live in a world which has a number of social constructs, like laws and rules. Following these laws and rules help us to be productive members of society. Different environments have different rules of different magnitude, for example, answering your phone in the middle of a meeting will be, at best, frowned upon and repeatedly will likely get you fired. Gamified eLearning courses make the use of rules too, and different environments can have different rules. This teaches employees to be aware of what they are doing and where they are doing it at all times.
Using gamification has lead many companies towards success as it works on the very principles of how human beings learn. However, it depends completely on how it is applied and on the context. It is not a magic pill and there are a number of gamified eLearning projects that fail. The better the research, planning and implementation, the more likely organizations are to get positive results.
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