Feeling starved? Just go to an online food app, choose the food item of your choice, add to your cart, pay the bill and within no time (almost!), the food is on your table! And what’s more! You even get discounts (coupons), cashbacks, points just for doing this! That right there, is effective use of gamification. Many websites and apps have successfully incorporated the game elements to drive engagement – the Nike app, Duolingo App, eBay, Mint.com, etc. are a few examples.

The trend of gamification shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, according to the Global Gamification Market Report by Mordor Intelligence, “The global gamification market was valued at USD 2.17 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach USD 19.39 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 44.06% over the forecast period (2018-2023). The exponential growth in the number of smartphones and mobile devices has directly created a vast base for the gamification market. This growth is also supported by the increasing recognition of gamification systems as a method to architecture human behavior to induce innovation, productivity, or engagement.” And the influence of games isn’t restricted to food or retail apps, but has influenced various other sectors and workplaces and training too.

Gamification doesn’t mean turning the workplace/training into a playground. Quite the contrary really. Rather, it focuses on the psychology behind engagement in games i.e. rewards, resolve, pride, competition, and ranking. By definition, it is the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service. With the inclusion of millennials and Gen Z in the workforce, the demand for positive experiences, device flexibility and even emotional quotient has increased. Not to forget that the generation that is hooked on PUBG (a popular online multiplayer battle royale game), seeks adventure and a sense of accomplishment. But, how then are the elements of games successfully incorporated in learning and learning technology, in particular to Learning Management Systems (LMSs)? It’s about Playing to Learn and Learning to Play. But not limited to that alone. It’s also about staying true to the basic premise of games and following the various levels of successful gamification strategy as discussed below.

1. The Entry Level– Context/Relevance and UI Design: The success of a gamified learning experience depends on the purpose. But, for that to work, learner participation matters too. The entry level strategy of gamification includes UI and UX design, intended to grab attention, make navigation easier and to lead the learners towards the learning goals. And though gamification aims towards learner participation, adding points and scoring system without a competitive arena or in other words a leaderboard and user profile (avatar) doesn’t really work. The level one of gamification strategy hence, revolves around why learners should opt for the system, the purpose of learning and the benefits.

2. The Journey Level– Progress: Does the story of gamification end with user/learner log in? No, that’s just the beginning! Gamification is about the resolve, and in a gamified system it is about how confident the learners feel about moving forward. While the context provides the initial purpose, gamified LMS/training is about the goal or what they are ‘expected’ to do. Say, for instance, – finish 5 courses for basic certifications. The value attached to it, the benefit it brings to them is relayed through communication- i.e. internal email notifications or Informal Learning tools.

The headway within a gamified system also depends on the navigation and roadmap that chart the progress. Mapping systems, simple progress bars, milestones of achievement etc. all are often included to provide learners a game-like feeling and make the journey seem manageable and to deliver a great user experience.

3. The Conquest Level– Explorative Environment: Learners/users prefer to have control over their actions, a notion driven by pride. The conquest level in gamification strategy harnesses this emotion. As leaving the controls entirely in the hands of the learners is neither appropriate nor recommended, gamified strategy focuses on leading them towards their learning goal. This involves gameplay, mini games, funny puns, video clips, etc. that lead through the initial process of use, provide an overview of the system etc. and thereafter entrust the learning path to the learners. The gamified LMS or training is built with structure and exploration as the foundation to allow learners to explore around with an ability to subtly guide them through various levels/ learning quests!

4. The Bonus (Super Power) Level– Analytics: Competition is one of the biggest drivers behind games, and it can be at different levels, either with self or with others. In a gamified system/LMS the analytics and dashboards replace the normal scoreboards to build competition. The ‘personal bests’ and ‘previous records’, often prep the learners to come back and try again, improve the scores and in the end improve the learning outcome. A gamified system also utilizes graphs and reports to allow the learners to inspect their own learning path, mark the achievements and also have a look at the ranking at a workplace level.

5. The Treasure Trove Level– Loyalty: One of the biggest motivations for game play is the reward system. It is hence the key strategy of gamification too, i.e. providing something the users/players receive and feel positive about. The LMS gamification ideally revolves around a rewarding system (one if not in-built, at least easily integrable with HRMS/ other similar systems), scores/ points/ badges, rewards to encourage engagement and loyalty. Things like unlocking new features, creating separate communities, are simple elements used to trigger long-term behavior change in the learners and elicit loyalty towards the system.

6. The Ultimate Goal/Final Level– Achievement: Games are all about achievements. While most online games focus on levels cleared, unlocking new features, adding cores, bonuses, modifying the avatars and so on, at the end it is all about what users do and what they get. This is the final strategy of gamification. In case of LMS gamification it is essentially about what the learners achieve. The ultimate goal of assessing training content i.e. certification, change in roles/level of expertise, etc. And how the learner is evaluated? Through inbuilt assessments and evaluations, tracking and reporting system, hence gaining from the core features of LMSs.

As for any gamified system, LMS gamification strategy isn’t just about adding badges and points. It involves genuine understanding of the learning context, content and learning ecosystem (devices, OSs, browsers, and the whole mix) and most importantly the learners. The aspects that often make a good LMS. And with the current global trends and the user demographic all driving towards more creative and engaging formats of learning, LMS gamification is now high on demand greatly influencing the global gamification trends too. And as stated by a senior analyst at Technavio for education technology, “The implementation of computer associated training programs and customized learning solutions directly impacts the growth of the global gamification market in the corporate training sector. The solutions must be associated with the business objectives of end-users and must be specially designed as per their training needs.”

To learn how you can adopt a successful gamification strategy with an LMS, talk to us.

Author

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Amit has played a key role in bringing an innovative approach to the traditional Learning Management System (LMS) and has been instrumental in putting UpsideLMS on the global map.With over two decades of work
experience across IT and eLearning, Amit has a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience in start-up management, project management, technology solutions consulting, and technology solutions architecting and development. At UpsideLMS too, Amit continues to wear multiple hats as the key idea generator for UpsideLMS' tech-ops team, a Sales and Marketing orchestrator, a learning technology solutions consultant for his clients and prospects, a sounding board of ideas for his team of experts and a mentor for all the function heads. All product offerings birthed and led by Amit, be it the Learning Management System or the Mobile Learning Apps, have been disruptors in the eLearning industry and ahead of their times.

                                                                                                                                                         

Amit is an active contributor to the company's blog and many eLearning forums. He has been profiled by Learning Solutions, a leading industry publication and the official online publication of the eLearning Guild, for its 'Leaders in the Limelight' series. He distils his expertise and experience into articles, which are regularly published in leading L&D and HR publications across the world.

                                                                                                                                                         

Amit has spoken at various L&D events in the US, has co-hosted webinars alongside leading industry experts and has authored eBooks on Learning Management Systems. He has served as a judge for the Brandon Hall awards in 2002 and 2004. Amit holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science (NIT–Kurukshetra) and a Masters in Business Administration (IIM – Lucknow).

                                                                                                                                                
Connect with him on LinkedIn.