Instructional Design

Engagement Through Gamification

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It’s not a new story—educators through time have struggled with engaging learners. Today’s instructional designers must find a way to engage eLearners while developing skills or changing behaviors to meet the goals of the training. Learners and designers don’t interact during the learning, so running nails down the chalkboard isn’t an option to wake a snoozing audience. Utilizing corporate gamification can engage and even bring some fun to the learning experience.

Design the Game to Fit the Audience

If you’re new to the idea of instituting gamification at work, it might surprise you to learn that you need to turn a paradigm on its head. Instead of it being “all about the material and the goal of the training,” it’s really “all about the audience.” Engage your audience by identifying their characteristics and behaviors and matching the design experience to them, and they’ll learn. Don’t engage them, and you don’t have a chance of teaching them a thing. Are your learners Pacman or Pokémon people? Select an appropriate game and fit your material to the game, keeping your goal in mind.

Identify Appropriate Game Elements

Game elements should be consistent with the theme/tone of the training and across trainings. In the eLearning sphere, familiarity breeds comfort, not contempt. Imagine if clicking an app icon on your smartphone led to an unexpected result. Other factors to consider include:

  • Too many details and too much realism can disengage your eLearners.
  • The game is simply one component of the learning experience. It shouldn’t suck all the oxygen out of the air.
  • The design experience (the learners’ travels through the game) should be relevant to the work experience—that’s one reason to spend some time selecting the right game metaphor.
  • Ensure your interactivity is intuitive. If not, include explicit direction.

Gamification Quality Control

If you designed your game components with a clear plan to reach your goal, kept your audience in mind, and used the material you’ve been given (the cards you’ve been dealt) to reach the stated objectives of the trainings, the quality control phase will be relatively painless:

  1. Ensure your content is accurate and that you’ve made no mistakes in its presentation as you design.
  2. Take the journey from the learners’ point of view as you design.
  3. You’re familiar with the content, so call in the usual suspects to help you test when you’re finished designing. Test for engagement, usability, intuitiveness, etc., along with ensuring that the game engages and uses appropriate game elements.