Trends for gamification of learning 2018

As a result of my post earlier this week on gamification trends for 2018, someone asked me what my predictions were for the gamification of learning in the coming year. One of the reasons why I had made the general predictions post is because I think in learning, gamification has become more and more expected, rather than the “hot” new trend. With more use comes higher expectation and personally, I think that is a good sign of an industry maturing and people understanding more about it. I also think the exciting things coming towards us in learning, are not necessarily related to gamification. So for the trends below I am keeping the field narrow and purely look at gamification for learning in 2018

Experiences drawn from games

In learning, in the past year, we saw the emerging title of learning experience designers, instead of instructional or learning designers. The people behind these terms often draw on both the fields of user experience and game design as well as learning design, which effectively is what we have been doing for a number of years only with a strong focus on what games bring into the mix. Experience design puts the learner in the driver seat, which then allows for more creativity and puts games in an ideal place to serve as inspiration. Games already have a first-person player in most cases, so adapting it to suit learning is a natural fit in my view (also congruent with level 1 of my learning gamification framework).

Mixed reality

Both augmented reality and virtual reality have a definite place in learning. Most organisations can create a blended experience, where traditional classroom training benefits from augmented reality or a blend between regular e-learning and virtual reality. At this stage, the easy win remains augmented reality, tools such as Meta Verse and Zappar to name only a few, allow you to create fun interventions from treasure hunts to knowledge collection points. It is teachers in the educational space that are jumping on these options more readily than the corporate learning teams. Mobile devices are the key to making this work and they are widespread in both educational and corporate sectors. Gamification can act as the bridge that ties the mixed reality experiences into one learner journey or learning experience. Virtual reality requires more investment, which is why the market is slower to jump into this, yet we see the first gamified virtual reality experiences coming up.

Blockcerts to replace Open Badges

Blockchain technology has opened up new opportunities in terms of certification of skills. Open badge technology in the world of learning related gamification has been widely accepted and documented. The first steps have been made to apply blockchain to certification through Blockcerts, with reputable academic institutes looking to have their certifications verified by the blockchain. Effectively, it would allow us all to create a certification verification of all of our courses whether academic, workplace-based or purely things you did out of personal interest in your spare time. The next level, I see for this is to make it real-time evidence-based, where peers can evaluate your skill in the moment and verify that you can apply the skill.

Co-creation and co-experiencing

Co-creation was already thing last year in my opinion for learning, where learners are allowed to create playlists and generate content, albeit with or without curation from a learning manager. Again the education sector leads the way with co-creating stories and learning together with students. In the corporate sector, this is still frowned upon and I am hopeful or wishful that this will become a thing here too this year. From a gamification design perspective, for me it is a pre-requisite of good design, however, I am aware some organisations don’t involve client teams or learners in their designs. Either way both for learning and gamification, co-creation will answer some of the challenges learning faces in terms of relevancy and pitch level. Co-experiencing then takes the co-created learning into practice, where both the designer of the experience plays together with others and with that improves the game or learning or whatever you have called it. Reflection and feedback will then both find its place as enhancers of learning and the experience itself.

Stories over PBL (points, badges and leaderboards)

With the maturation of gamification, it seems like we can finally push points and badges to the place where they belong, aka in the background as opposed to them to be the main driver of learner gamification. They have a place, just not in your face all of the time. Narrative, messaging and storytelling is what is taking centre stage and rightfully so in my opinion. With terms like story branding popping up in corporate marketing and communications, maybe this is the opportunity of the year for both learning and marketing teams to join forces and write compelling narrative consistent for internal and external use whilst drawing on the strengths of both teams.

Obstacles as scenarios

If we define games as ways to voluntarily overcome obstacles, then gamification in learning is the tool to provide scenarios to apply your problem solving or learning to. For me this has been how I have designed learning for years, saying that rapid authoring tools allowed for slide decks to be the norm for information dumping and the “next” button to be the mechanic of choice. More and more result-focused learning designers and thankfully also business managers want results over pretty graphics. In games, we have a scenario at each level and we need to navigate learning at this level through battling opponents, overcoming obstacles, scoring point or simply tending to your resources. Scenario-based learning gamification is the way forward and even if I don’t personally think it is new, given some of the above points, it should be a focus area for 2018 learning gamification.

Closing the feedback loop

Performance management and learning have often been brought together, I think everyone who has experienced a performance review has probably been asked the question what you want to learn or do to enhance your career or job or potentially even been told what to take a course in. Gamification design especially when you are looking at performance-related gamification for a function, allows you to bring both learning and performance together in one place. I would even add management into the equation in that scenario to drive optimum results. Managers often need to learn how to support their individuals. Individuals, in turn, have their own strengths and weaknesses both can be enhanced through helping them focus on the behaviours that work in a role and teaching the specifics of where they are falling short. Gamification can close the feedback loop between both and that is where fantastic success stories will come out in 2018 I hope.

My predictions for learning gamification, may not be surprising, I know I have been pointing out some of these for some time in both this blog and my learning gamification framework. Maybe they are also more my wishlist for 2018 than truly predictions as such. In any case, I am excited about what is now possible with gamification in general and for learning. Mostly I am glad that we can have educated conversations with clients on what works and where it may not be appropriate, which is a welcome change from previous years. Learning without gamification I believe is a thing of the past.


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