Opinion: Gamification leads the way to success in modern day learning and project management

by External02 Apr 2015
Techniques borrowed from games are now increasingly boosting corporate training.  Today, organisations staffed with young workers are turning to gamification as a way of engaging employees who expect fast-paced, mobile and social interaction and enjoy computer games.
 
In particular, gamification techniques have the potential to benefit project managers from all industries. Projects and games share many traits. They are usually driven by goals, well-defined roles and clear metrics on progression through a defined lifecycle with milestones. Projects and computer games, in particular, are both scenario-based, whether building Sim City or the business’ latest product.

Gamification responds to basic human needs and desires, including competition, self expression, status and achievement. Deployed effectively, gamified learning platforms can support managers in increasing engagement and motivation within their teams, resulting in a stronger and more effective project teams and performance.

Blended learning
 
Gamification works best blended with existing training techniques. A gamified approach alone would often not be enough to cover large amounts of detailed content or to meet complex assessment needs measured against a syllabus. However, it might have a key role to play in preparing learners for tests and scores from gamified tests could even form part of the test and assessment process. The game element may be woven into the learning, perhaps providing a scenario that sits alongside the core learning that a learner can return to at stages throughout the course.

In a typical blended learning approach, a learner might carry out some pre-classroom e-learning followed by a face-to-face classroom session; this could be supported by gamified tests. Follow-on revision notes and supporting video, sent to the learner’s mobile devices to make sure he or she has understood the training. Gamification provides a very useful tool to make large tranches of e-learning content more accessible by helping vary the delivery of the training. It can also create an environment where learners feel less pressured and are willing to try things out.

Gamification in the workplace has the potential to be a very useful tool in learning delivery. It is especially well aligned to supporting project and programme management goals. However gamification is rarely of value on its own and it will deliver the best results in a complex learning environment when trainers and developers pay careful attention to the design of a blended learning programme and the part gamification may play within that.

Top tips to deploy a gamification strategy within a complex learning environment
 
  • Make sure you understand the demographics of your learners – what is their age range and what will engage them? Older learners may simply not understand a complex game format that would be very familiar to a 20 year old, for example.
 
  • Align gamification to learning objectives and make it measurable. Gamified learning has the advantage of being measurable and it is easy to set up metrics that measure how long a person spent on the ‘game’, how much progress they made through the game and what results they got. Results in gamified tests may be measured against final exam results to establish how successful gamified units were in preparing the learner.
 
  • Keep it simple. Game elements that engage people the most are often the simplest and most intuitive, such as the widely understood ‘snakes and ladders’ format.
 
  • Make it fun. Aim to engage people and make them smile. If they enjoy learning something, they are more likely to remember it. Boost the social element – games could be linked to various social media platforms for example.
 
  • Use gamification as part of a blended learning approach. Offer a mix of media, including audio and video, and face-to-face learning too to address the learning styles of all your learners.

About the author

Leanne Ramsay is General Manager – APAC, ILX Group
 

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