What is Gamification in Education & It’s Importance to Small Business Training Programs
By Greg Nunan
Whether you’ve got the high score on Tetris, an addiction to World of Warcraft, or the closest you get to a computer game is the weekly crossword: Our brain likes gaming. Or more specifically, it likes being rewarded.
This is where Gamification comes in. The idea that completing challenges should be recognised and rewarded, be it that high score or figuring out that tricky 7 across. It’s something that’s really caught on and that’s because fundamentally, it appeals to us.
So What is Gamification Exactly?
Put simply it’s about making something that isn’t traditionally a game, into something that has game elements to it. With the goal being to transform mundane activities into becoming more enjoyable and importantly, more engaging.
And it’s that last point that really hits home when it comes to small business training programs. It’s the power to turn the routine into the riveting. Because let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Back of a dimly lit room, an unmotivated speaker stands at the front, with a PowerPoint that’s more windows ’98 than 8.1, droning on about something that try as you might, you just can’t care about.
It changes this long established formula, bringing new ideas and learning methods to training programmes. There are concepts such as levelling up for completing tasks, as well as delivering a variety in the approaches to teaching and learning through fun methods.
Ultimately though, it’s not so much what is gamification, but what it can do for our understating of the training materials. It appeals to our desire to progress, and it recognises this and visualises it. It puts achievements in a quantifiable and easily understood format. Making it clear to the user, through constant feedback and challenges that they are in control of their learning – and best of all they’re doing well with it.
A great example of this can be seen over at Badgeville, a company specializing in game mechanics. It’s also been put to success within Bluewolf, showing that small business is really taking this seriously.
With it, SMB training can be crafted to suit a users needs more effectively. Allowing companies to tailor bespoke packages of learner centric training. Giving them the best possible experience.
Examples of Why It’s So Vital For Small Business Owners
You might already be recognising your own experiences of this technology, and perhaps why it can be so important to your employee’s training. So from looking at the fundamentals of what it is, the following Gamification examples can be identified as the main reasons for why more businesses need to get on board.
- As mentioned, the most important part of implementing game mechanics is its ability to engage learners. This is such a vital asset, with engagement being crucial to the learning process. When a learner is engaged and responsive, they are doing the task because they want to do it. Not because they must. It leads to increased motivation, and user satisfaction.And it’s not just that tasks can become more enjoyable, it also leads to increased motivation by its very nature. Through the levelling up of a profile, or unlocking badges it gives the learner a reason to return to the task. Motivating them through its methods, as well as engaging them in the activities further.
- Another key point building from the idea of increased engagement, is the idea of play. It’s something we did a lot as children, and you’re encouraged to do so, especially when it comes to learning. Then suddenly learning stops being fun and you’re stuck learning about resource management and logistics. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and in fact play and having fun goes a long way to improving the learning process. Resulting in users becoming more responsive to the information they’re studying.A great example of gamification in education in a non-business setting is at Duolingo, a language teaching company. It utilises a variety of fun tasks, such as quizzes, to get users learning languages quickly and effectively. One of the big successes here is the difficulty level. Not too tricky, but just enough to get users working, and coming back for more.
- Which leads on nicely to the final key aspect: The idea that it can be beneficial for learning to be a challenge. As the Philosopher John Dewey said, “We only think when we are confronted with problems.” Which means that deep learning only really occurs when there’s a challenge, and when you’re pushed just to the edge of your ability, that’s how you improve. And this is what it can provide for small business training. It places learning in a context where difficulty levels can be present and the format allows for the learning to be challenging when necessary. It also gives users the great satisfaction of overcoming difficulty by recognising this with rewards systems.
Gamify Your Employee Training Correctly
It’s pretty clear that the concept to gamify training is grounded in a solid framework of tried and tested educational methods. A fun and engaging method of delivering training that actually improves learning.
A lot does rest on successful implementation and whether your online learning management system supports it. There are common pitfalls, such as lack of meaningful rewards, not setting goals correctly, or even using the wrong kind of content. The biggest issue however is oversaturation.
With an increasing amount of buzz surrounding the topic its only natural that there will be an increase in the use of Gamification, in all kinds of areas. So what businesses must always ask themselves is; are we doing this for the right reason? And will the content work well in a gamified way?
Considering these issues, and knowing where the strengths lie, companies utilising it correctly, can expect to see their training activities achieve great success.