Employee training is serious business. It can help your organization achieve major goals through a more educated and engaged workforce, while simultaneously helping you retain valuable talent.
But the act of learning itself doesn’t have to be boring. Learning providers are always looking to develop new ways to make learning more fun and engaging.
What is one such innovative way? Gamification in education! In this post, we look at what gamification is, what the benefits are, and how you can use it in your training initiatives.
What is gamification in education?
Gamification definition: the application of game-playing elements to areas of your organization where learning new skills is required to help improve student learning retention and engagement. Examples of game playing elements include scoring points, getting rewards, and competing with others.
Gamification can be applied to both face-to-face learning as well as eLearning. You can implement the same principle of a rewards system in your business by using a rich LMS, such as GoSkills, to improve learning retention and make acquiring new skills fun for your team.
Let’s dive into the benefits of gamification and some examples of it in education, specifically eLearning.
Benefits of gamification
Let’s start with the foundation of any good strategy - statistics.
Between 2020-2024, the higher education market is expected to grow by USD $37.82 billion. The worldwide market for eLearning is estimated to grow by 5 percent between 2016-2023 to more than USD $240 billion.
Within the eLearning market, game-based learning product revenues are estimated to grow from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $7.3 billion by 2021. That’s big business.
Gamification of learning comes in many different forms, from incorporating a few gamified learning tactics to fully developed games. The overall aim is the same: increase engagement, improve retention, and enhance learning.
A gamified LMS, such as GoSkills, allows learners to achieve certain learning goals, unlock levels of achievement, and see how they’re doing in comparison to teammates.
Some of the benefits of gamification are:
- Higher engagement because of increased competition
- Increased learning retention through involvement and creativity
- Real-time feedback and progress tracking which increases satisfaction and engagement
- It enforces that learning can be a game, not solely a test with a pass or fail.
- It provides a safe environment for employees to practice real-life situations and challenges.
- When gamification is combined with repeated retrieval and spaced repetition, it can drive behavioral change.
- It can be used in learning across the organization (learning new soft skills, creating more awareness among staff, adhering to compliance). It can even be used to onboard new staff, and train customer support representatives.
Through eLearning, employees can learn in their own time and at their own pace. With gamification, that learning process becomes just a bit more fun and engaging, which helps to increase student motivation and create a sense of achievement.
It’s also a great way to get your employees hooked on continuous learning, as dopamine is released when our brain wants to reward us, which in turn makes us feel good. So by implementing a reward system for your staff’s learning efforts, you’re intrinsically creating an environment that encourages consistent learning and development. Now, who doesn’t want that!
Let’s have a look at a few examples of gamification in education.
5 examples of gamification in education
There are several elements that together make a great gamification learning strategy. You can use them separately, but they’re more powerful together. As always, if you want gamification to be successful within your organization, you need to put in the time to properly plan your strategy and execution.
Doing a skill-gap analysis may help to determine what areas need more attention within your organization, and what strategies and tools might be helpful to close the gap. A skill-gap analysis can also help you to understand how your staff prefers to learn, as everyone is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
However, most of us love to play games, so here are a few examples of how to implement gamification in your organization’s learning.
Rewards are often used to change behavior. On a personal level, this occurs when we promise ourselves a treat for instance after we’ve done something we don’t want to do. An insurance or electricity provider, for example, giving a discount for paying on time is an example of a reward system on a business to consumer level. You can use the same rewards system to encourage learning within your organization.
One of the ways to implement it is to use a points system, where points are distributed and allocated to employees based on their learning performance. A rewards system encourages a bit of healthy competition among your staff and increases engagement.
If you’ve ever played a game of any kind, you know the thrill of completing a level and getting access to another. It’s that curiosity and desire to conquer that makes levels motivating for learners.
When applied to eLearning in an LMS, employees progress through levels such as beginner, intermediate, and advanced as they work through courses. You can make reaching certain levels extra special by linking the level of expertise to a promotion or expert level authority within your business. At the core, reaching new levels gives your employees a sense of reward and achievement, and it also clearly indicates the learning structure and what they need to achieve in order to succeed.
Badges act as both a rewards system as well as a goal-setting tool. When implemented in online learning, employees receive badges when they’ve accomplished certain milestones, such as five days of learning in a row, or if they’ve scored enough points to reach a particular level.
Badges commonly used in games are:
- Basic badges: emblems rewarded for achieving basic course work
- Achievement badges: awarded to staff for completing complex material
- Awards: given in recognition for employees putting in considerable one-time effort on a subject or course (such as completion of a whole course).
All types of badges help to drive learners to pursue objectives and reach milestones. Plus, because it’s a form of reward, it helps to keep them hooked on learning new skills in order to gain more badges.
Roleplaying is a great way to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, increase empathy, and learn new skills. It can be applied both in classroom or face-to-face courses, as well as online.
Let’s say you’d like to train your compliance team on handling difficult situations with the public. You could use roleplaying as a way to explore different ways of handling the same situation. You could do this by having one of your employees play the role of the customer. You could also do this by running through a virtual situation online where different responses create different outcomes of the same example in the learning environment.
A leaderboard can be used to list the points employees have received as part of their courses. But it’s a double-edged sword. For example, if you ranked 350 out of 500 employees on a particular skill, would that make you work harder or not motivate you at all?
The answer you choose depends greatly on the personality you have. There’s also a difference between wanting to win and wanting to avoid losing. Two different meta-analyses found that:
- The beneficial effects of competition depend on whether the player is wanting to perform better than someone else, or if they’re just wanting to avoid performing worse. In the latter case, it’s reducing their performance, whereas, in the first example, competition is shown to improve performance.
- Wanting to win only improves learners’ performance if the game is supporting feelings of mastery, otherwise, it’s not enough to shield employees from the downsides of competitive social situations.
Instead of having a leaderboard based on individual skills or hours spent learning, you could rank employees based on their overall performance in acquiring new skills, which allows for a more balanced comparison.
Wrapping it up
Gamification in education is a great way to engage your employees, make learning fun and exciting, and increase retention. Game-based learning is here to stay and can be implemented in both face-to-face learning as well as online learning through an LMS such as GoSkills.
Other benefits of using gamification in the learning and development strategy of your organization include real-time feedback and progress tracking, providing a safe environment to practice real-life situations, and driving behavioral change.
Gamification can be used across your organization, wherever there’s a need for continuous learning. Whether that’d be onboarding new staff, creating more awareness and empathy within departments, or learning new soft skills - you name it, gamification can make it fun!
Are you ready to turn up the fun and create an engaging learning experience for your team? Try gamification for free with GoSkills and get started today.