Is gamification the solution, when my e-learning is a bit flat?
In my view as an instructional designer as well as gamification designer, you can improve content delivery by working in gamification elements. There are a number of questions you would want to answer first, before embarking on the gamification track:
1. What are the learning objectives of the course?
2. Is there an element of behaviour change needed and if yes, what is it?
What I find when organisations embark on learning projects is that they are not fully clear on what they want the learner to take away as key lessons or what they want them to do differently as a result. This is the first step in all learning design that needs to be answered.
I have also found that some organisations see e-learning as the equivalent of a party political broadcast, where they are telling you how they see the world and how you should work within it, which fails to answer the question “what’s in it for me” through the learner’s eyes. E-learning design should be learner centric as opposed to message centric.
In games we learn nearly without noticing that we are, effectively we are causing different levels by overcoming challenges. On a day-to-day basis in work we probably do the same, with varied learning curves depending on your experience and job path. So the best combination of blending these two words is to make learning very similar to real life situations with consequences that are life like only in a virtual setting.
For example, what would happen if you let an employee work through various every day compliance issues where they have to choose an approach based on real life variables? Depending on the choices they make they receive instant feedback like you would in a game. The learning setting makes it safe to allow for mistakes and this in my view is where the majority of ineffective learning happens where only the right course of action is your option in e-learning or you simply get told what to do and al you learn is to click through presentations.
Allowing failure in a course, but providing feedback with it and a chance to make a new choice based on the current conditions the learner has created, makes learning a lot more powerful. By keeping examples real and close to what could be presented in reality, you create the potential for intrinsic motivation to kick in and let the learner explore their options out of curiosity. Invite them to check out if they are skirting on the edge of the law when they make deals with clients?
Let them in the learning setting explore overstepping the legal lines and end up with a fine or in jail for serious breaches. It is more life-like to learn from your mistakes rather than from being told how to do something when the knowledge passed on is not new or based on common sense decision making.
If it is a brand new topic or a very specific problem you are trying to fix, then how to lessons may indeed still be appropriate but the presentation can be more original and gamified. Always test what the knowledge starting point is of a learner, because providing knowledge that is too easy is a massive turn off point from a motivational perspective especially in the busy world of corporates where time is money.
In my view flat elearning courses can probably benefit from a gamification overhaul, when they are really aimed at driving behaviour and have a clear path to mastery.
In the ebook “How gamification reshapes learning” I joined a number of international gamification experts and shared some tips on what we find essential. You can find your copy on this link: www.elearningindustry.com/how-gamification-reshapes-learning.
In a recent presentation I shared the 5 must haves for great learning experiences:
How do you believe you can improve a flat e-learning course?