When people think of e-learning, they might imagine plain slideshows with walls of text and the occasional image – but it doesn’t have to be boring.
Gamification is a potential solution. Gamification is the application of interactive elements into e-learning and can help enhance the user’s learning experience. This doesn’t need to be ‘gimmicky’ or overly complex, either – gamification might involve rewards, such as online badges or certificates to boost learner satisfaction, bitesize quizzes to test knowledge, or interactive scenarios.
The Aviva Development Zone contains examples of effective gamification in the form of interactive scenario-based courses – these present the learner with real-life situations, encouraging decision-making and problem-solving in challenging scenarios. This is followed by learning material that helps the learner to reflect on the scenario and understand how to improve their performance. Once completed, the learner is rewarded with an online badge.
Gamification can make learning more engaging and fun, but it should not stray from its core objective – to educate the learner. If the learner gains something from the experience, then it has served its purpose. If the learner remembers the game or scenario itself but retains none of the crucial information, then it is counterproductive.
As with everything, moderation is key. In order for learners to read and retain information, gamification should be supplementary, rather than the main learning material. It needs to have a meaningful purpose, not just consist of flashy visuals that end up distracting learners and trivialising serious topics. Features such as scores and leader boards could cause learners to compete with each other rather than focus on actual learning and personal development, though if done correctly could promote healthy competition; it depends on the audience and overall learning objectives.
When used correctly, gamification has plenty of benefits. It can appeal to learners who thrive on visual and kinaesthetic styles of learning, giving them an incentive to further their own development. Images and animation can help a learner to visualise a scenario or topic, leading to better recall. Additionally, having visual indicators such as progress bars help the learner easily track their progress and can motivate them to complete their learning.
Storytelling is a useful way of presenting new or complex information in an immersive format. Learners are more likely to engage with a visual story or scenario they can interact with rather than reading a block of facts and figures. The scenario can be broken up into chapters, signifying different learning paths.
The game-like elements could help present learning as less of a daunting task and may encourage learners to work on their development during their free time. It can also help new members of staff ease into the workplace, as part of the onboarding process, as it is may not feel as intimidating as pages and pages of information.
Regardless of how gamification is implemented in e-learning, remember the main objective – to help the learner gain knowledge and further their professional development.