In part one of this blog we revealed the results of a question asked by Mike Byrne at the recent eLN CONNECT Conference. They suggested that, whilst their remains enormous amounts of goodwill towards gamification and a general belief that it is ‘getting there’, for most it has far from actually arrived. Now we turn to making it happen.
It’s not hard to understand why moving to a gamified elearning strategy is a challenge. Most organisations today have plenty of elearning content which they are perfectly happy with. Gamification may offer brilliant benefits in terms of learner engagement but it can be complicated to implement.
Structural gamification’s continual, real-time assessment of progress provides important information to both the learner and the administrators as learners complete portions of content, takes quizzes to gauge knowledge acquisition and move toward the prescribed educational goals. The continual assessment of progress helps identify strengths and weaknesses.
There are simpler routes to gamification though. One such route was (as far as I can work out) first mooted in a paper by Kapp, Blair, & Mesch in 2013 and taken up again by Karl Kapp in a recent blog. Described by them as ‘structural gamification’, the game-elements are applied to the structure around the content to create pathways for a learner, but without changing the content itself. Instead, the management structure around the content becomes gamified. So typically, in an implementation of this type, the scoring elements of video games, such as points, levels, badges, leader boards and achievements is still adopted. It is just applied externally.
Structural gamification’s continual, real-time assessment of progress provides important information to both the learner and the administrators as learners complete portions of content, take quizzes to gauge knowledge acquisition and move toward the prescribed educational goals. The continual assessment of progress helps identify strengths and weaknesses.
This has already begun to emerge as a quicker win for organisations wishing to bring in the benefits of gamification. Some might see this as a kind of ‘gamification light’ solution. But it can also offer much more to an organisation than gamifying elearning content alone. Some of these benefits are critical in overcoming the reasons for the slow adoption of gamification:
- Structural gamification makes it much easier to link into your overarching company initiatives and incentives. This is especially true if other parts of the organisation are looking to use gamification solutions. Learning professionals are, of course, not the only people in organisations looking to use gamification to improve performance. Marketing, HR, production, transport and others are all seeing this as a solution.
- Some learners can feel uncomfortable with content that is clearly gamified. They may feel that they are being judged on their ability to ‘play the game’ rather than learn the subject. This is less likely to happen where the whole structure is gamified and the results more clearly tied to overall subject knowledge.
- It means you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can keep all your key elearning content just as it is
Given this is such a good idea with almost no limiting factors, what might you ask is holding it back? Well I suspect one limiting factor is that nobody actually ‘owns’ the subject. I’d hazard a guess that there are few, if any, job titles of ‘Head of Gamification (CGO?). Some may think this to be a temporary challenge but former vendors of knowledge management systems in the 90’s also thought that and never brought them into the mainstream. It may wither on the vine for this reason alone. Or it may be a great opportunity for learning professionals all over to grab the stick and make it happen themselves.