Increase learning engagement and effectiveness with Gamification

If you are looking for innovative, engaging and effective ways to get your people learning, linked to the current trends and New World of Work, this is the right session for you. ASTD2012 W102: Driving Engagement and Performance with Gamification…


Robert Pearson and Mary Myers kick off their session by underlining the idea that many of our innovations come from new and interesting fields. This particular one comes from the world of consumer entertainment. But why is this interesting for learning? Can we really learn something useful whilst having fun?


Firstly, be clear: This is not another GenY fad. Although GenY will love it, do not ignore this. According to Mary and Robert, we live in a society of gaming. We always have. People love to play games. Online, face-to-face, at dinner with friends or in a gaming-group with strangers. Poker, Monopoly, UNO, Pacman, World of WarCraft… Watch this film and you’ll see that mutatis mutandis, given the choice between game and no-game most people take the game.


What is going on when people play games? Why do I care?
Reason number 1: According to the Neuro-Scientists, when we play games the brain releases dopamine. Dopamine = Pleasure. Pleasure is good for learning.


Reason number 2 is more fundamental. It’s about human nature and the 4 basic drives of human beings: Drive to acquire, to defend, to bond and to create. Robert Pearson says that if I you want to create change (the business of learning) you have to work on ALL four of these drivers..


OK, I believe. Let’s get technical ….
Gamification is the application of game-mechanics to a non-game environment in order to bring about learning and behaviour change.


Game dynamics are the different elements that arise when we play games. Based on the kind of outcomes learners search in their game, different elements must be found in the game: For example, if you are interested in reward, the game must include points and the possibility to move to a higher level. If you are interested in other outcomes, use other dynamics.


Getting started with Gamification
As with all new trends, it is important not to start Gamification just because it’s cool. Start as with any learning need by defining the basic important learning design elements: What are you trying to achieve? What must people learn? Who are the learners?


These elements may already give you an indication of where Gamification could play a value-add role. Mary Myers has found that sales people at Ford taking part in game-based-learning worked faster through their learning programmes and more learners achieved certification than with non-gaming initiatives. The Ford certification process and demands was no different to the non-gaming predecessor. But the results were significantly better with Gamification.


John Chen, author of this book on Gamification and present in the audience asked: But what were the business results? Did Gamification actually make a difference to business results?

  • The immediate answer to this question is to repeat that Gamification is just/firstly a tool to a improve learning process/design. The initial learning design itself should already include the necessary elements to ensure business results.
  • The second answer is that Gamification is actually in itself a learning-results upgrade: People do learn better with games. They do acquire knowledge, skills and attitude more when stimulated in the ways outlined above.
  • Finally, Robert and Mary add that in fact, Gamification can be applied to many arenas (not just learning) to improve results. Have a look at this fantastic application (film) by Volkswagen on the use of gaming to help increasing respect of speed-limits…Speed Camera Lottery


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Published by Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

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