Modern Training

There’s a right way and a wrong way to gamify learning

Posted on: July 14, 2017Updated on: September 8, 2023By: Laura Martin

Gamification has been a hot buzzword in the learning space for awhile. All kinds of learning tech—from the LMS to the simple mobile apps—all claim to incorporate gamification. It’s why more than 70% of Forbes 2000 companies had plans as far back as 2014 to introduce gamification into their learning programs. And it is why the gamification industry is growing at a rate of 46% while the LMS industry is shrinking at a rate of 36%.


Gamification doesn’t work as an afterthought

But in the rush to jump on the gamification bandwagon, the truth is that most learning technologies have simply bolted on some sort of gamification add on. Sure, it allows them to say they’ve got this covered. But because gamification has been an afterthought and not top of mind from the get-go, the features fall short of expectations.

This approach has also caused confusion because the word has come to mean many different things. What do you think about when you hear the word? Badges? Game play? Rewards? These are definitely game mechanics that work. But when oversimplified, they don’t do anything to boost learning results. Is it any wonder many leaders still struggle to see their value?

Gamification of learning is more than badging

To truly use gamification in corporate training to boost memory and drive ongoing learning engagement, you have to do it right. This means, weaving in a number of game mechanics (game play, points, leaderboards and rewards) into the way learning is delivered to make it successful. Instead of being add-ons that don’t really have anything to do with the learning at all, you must have an overarching strategy to integrate game mechanics that make sense for driving a specific goal:

  • Game Play – Games are great for driving fun and engagement. Mix microlearning content with the game itself so it’s not a separate entity. That way employees will learn while they play. They’ll even learn more effectively by playing the game because their mind will be put into a state of “flow”.
  • Points and Rewards – Use points and rewards as incentives to keep people coming back. As employees complete training, give them points that they can bank. Then let them cash in their points for prizes.
  • Leaderboards – Use leaderboards to spur some friendly competition and motivate everyone to participate. Leaderboards should showcase how individuals stack up against their peers in their knowledge on key learning topics. And if employees are part of a team learning initiative, they should be able to see how well their team is doing too.
  • Badges – Foster recognition and continued motivation with badges. Display a badge each time an employee achieves milestones like achieving a high score, answering a specific number of questions correctly, completing certain training sessions, and more.
  • Social Elements – Keep everyone in the know about all your learning successes. Use things like news feeds to let everyone know when a team member achieves a high game score or graduates from a learning topic. This allows everyone to cheer each other on and keeps them motivated to continue.

Laura Martin

As a process person, she loves nothing more than taking a business and transforming it from obscure to renowned and beyond. She takes the reins on Axonify’s strategic alliance marketing efforts that put the company on the map.

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