Gamification:
Exploring New Frontiers of learning

Adoption of gamification in learning has been on the upswing for years now. Learning impact studies have been examining the broad range of game design techniques that can be used in learning environments for business benefit. Increasingly these techniques are finding great applicability in motivating the workforce, across learning and development in leadership development, sales training accelerated onboarding and better target achievement among others. Additionally most organizations also realize that it is possible to take advantages of gamification techniques without having to build complex games and re-engineer processes. The fundamental elements of gamification can be applied to training platforms and software, transforming the online environments to enrich interaction.
It is important to make a distinction between gamification techniques and game-based learning. By definition, gamification is a careful and creative application of game design elements and mechanics to business processes. Since business outcomes are directly linked to how engaged employees are with the organization, gamification of a business process can lead to a remarkable increase in engagement. In the learning scenario, this translates to a process where learners become active participants in their learning, and the learning experience is enhanced by using points to achievers, leaderboards, badges and progression through levels. These mechanics and gaming elements are all integrated to help the learner achieve their learning objectives. On the other hand, game-based learning incorporates games into the learning process as an instructional approach to achieving the learning objective. The content is designed to fit into the chosen framework of the game making learning fun, interactive and engaging.
Gamification and game-based learning are turning out to be pivotal in learning and are proven to be an accelerator of engagement scores and knowledge sharing. Companies using gamification for training have reported up to a 50% reduction in the senior management coaching time and a 70% improvement in the knowledge of company and products. A recent survey by Pew Research Center cited that, by 2020 the use of gamification will be widespread across multiple industries and training applications. Reinforcing the same idea, Gartner, a leading technology research organization, predicted that by 2020 the maturation of additional emerging technologies, including gesture control, head-mounted displays and augmented reality will further enable the use of gamification across many domains. The real power of gamification, however, is centered on the intrinsic motivation of the human mind by creating levels of intellectual stimulation lies at the core of good game based design.

The Power of Gamification in Learning

These are still early days for gamification in learning cycle, and no defined roadmap describes all that needs to be done to make it effective and impactful. However, we have seen evidence to believe that embedding the use of gaming mechanics into a learning framework can make learning meaningful.

Game-based learning has three key characteristics:

1. Learning by Storytelling: They draw from a familiar and relevant scenario, creating a story that learner can immediately connect with a real-life work situation.
2. Better Target Achievement: They enable a sense of a common goal that motivates one to learn actively and practice the right way to do things without any threats.
3. Encourage Practice: They allow learners to re-enact a precise set of circumstances multiple times, exploring the consequences of different actions.
4. Progression through levels and rewards: They allow various levels of engagement for a fast learner and a slow one gradually increasing difficulty the in game challenges.

Making Gamification Meaningful

Meaningful gamification cannot just be an application within a website or intranet portal. It will require a successful implementation of the appropriate tools and, more importantly, it needs to affect the mindset and behaviors that prevent learners to be more productive. Integrating social elements of rewards for interacting with the game in positive ways–like sharing, commenting, or chatting – can further enhance engagement. Making the game available on a mobile device can drive utilization through devices that people carry with them every day. Most importantly aligning gamification with the primary strategic objectives makes learning relevant, engaging, and a fun process with a direct correlation back to how people support the business. Successful organizations have used gamification to hasten knowledge dissemination, enable innovation, and encourage collaboration across functional silos to improve productivity. Infusion of gaming techniques can add a real-time, competitive element to making performance management even more meaningful.

References:
*Brian Burke, “Gamification 2020: What Is the Future of Gamification?” Gartner, Inc., Nov. 5, 2012.
Jarod Greene, “The Implications of Gamification on IT Operations,” Gartner, Inc., Aug. 7, 2012.
Nitesh Ambuj, Shahnawaz Khan, “Enterprise Gamification,” Happiest Minds, Social Computing Practice, April 2012, Michael Chui, James Manyika, Jacques Bughin, Richard Dobbs, Charles Roxburgh, Hugo Sarrazin, Geoffrey Sands, Magdalena Westergren The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies, McKinsey Global Institute
Aaron DeSmet, Monica McGurk, Elizabeth Schwartz, : Article, McKinsey Quarterly, Getting more from your training programs, October 2010

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