Thursday, June 4, 2015

Gamification in eLearning: Touching Base

When Microsoft introduced Windows 3.1, it also introduced the mouse. The hurdle for a DOS-trained computer user was two-fold; the screen displayed visual icons and a new way to move. To overcome resistance, Microsoft installed Solitaire as part of the operating system. Users learned how to use the mouse by playing a familiar game. Play harder; increase mouse skills.

Games Increase Skill, but Why?
We all know that gaming is serious business to the person in play. They are in "the zone." I believe that zone is the momentum of almost mastering a skill. Master it and boredom sets in unless there is a new challenge.

Games Encourage Both Collaboration and Competitiveness
Players help each other improve and yet relish in comparing themselves to each other. One doesn't have to win to feel validated or to earn respect (but it's nice, yes). 

Applying in a Learning Environment
Gamification doesn’t need to be elaborate to promote engagement. You can simply introduce features that would appeal to two types of players: explorers (risk takers) and achievers (reward-seekers).
  • Explorers learn from decision/consequence scenarios. They would also appreciate earning extra information (the educational version of a key or a treasure map).
  • Achievers are motivated by scores—not just grading, but also timing. They would respond well to a series of rapid-fire questions that gives an overall score. They would also be interested in how they are doing compared to other users, so providing a best score gives them a very high goal.
For each type of learner, there are two more categories: new and experienced. Therefore, it is important that the course be of use to each type.

Developing instructions clear enough for a new, possibly uncertain learner will help ensure their successful learning outcome. The instructions should also include a description of how the complexity will increase. This will satisfy the experienced learner that the course’s gaming features will not stay at the beginner level.

A Brilliant Gamification Strategy: Own It
By incorporating gamification into elearning courses, like Microsoft did with solitaire, course providers can attract more users to their product. It just takes a little thought about what types of learners will be taking the course and how to best meet their gaming needs.

About Author:
Susan Wines, eLearning Specialist

Experienced in all phases of creating eLearning courses, I find authors (subject matter experts), apply instructional design principles to course content, improve courseware processes, train internal teams worldwide, troubleshoot, publish, and then engage in social media representing our brand. I work in HTML, XML, and create interactive learning content using flash/HTML5, and videos—even whiteboard.

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