Gamification Discussion Points for #ozlearn chat on April 12

I am excited to be participating in the April 12 April #ozlearn chat next week and as part of preparing of the chat, I’ve written a blog post which I hope to discuss and explore in more detail with the great folks on the chat! See you there!

The gamification market in general continues to grow with some estimates having the general gamification marketing growing to a size of $11.10 Billion USD by 2020. But what does that mean to a learning and development professional? How does one make sense of the various gamification tools to help drive learner performance?

To leverage gamification and to make the most of the positive aspects of gamification, one really needs to examine three core elements that make gamification effective from a learning perspective and how those elements can help to drive learner performance and outcomes.

First, let’s define our typical gamification implementation. In this case we are talking about a system (often cloud
based) in which the learners working in teams or individually compete against one another to answer questions and earn points and/or badges. The answering of questions and accumulation of points happens over time. So a learner might be given a question on a Monday and then another question on Tuesday, etc. until a series of questions over several weeks or months is answered by the employees. Competitive elements are used to drive engagement and can include answering questions faster than others, answering more questions correctly than others and, possibly, answering more questions in total than others. The individual and group progress is displayed in some sort of leaderboard or other visible element to show progress over time.

This process provides certain learning elements that can help drive learning. However, it is important to note that for gamification to be properly implemented, it needs to tie into intrinsic as well as extrinsic drivers. So when rolling out a gamification solution, it’s important that message around the instruction be directly tied to goals related to the work the employees are performing and that an effort is made to explain why the knowledge gained is critical to the organization and employee. Often this valuable step is missing.

Here are three core elements that help drive learning with gamification.

Visible Measurement and Indication of Progress
In many traditional learning venues, it is almost impossible for the learner to objectively judge how much he or she has learned during the course of the instruction. It is typically not until the end of an instructional module (either face-to-face or online) when the learner is quizzed on the accumulated knowledge. Of the learner is given an “embedded” question immediately after he or she has learned the content.

This is a test of immediate recall far more than it is a test of learning. However, testing a learner at the end of a large body of content doesn’t help the learner because she may be unsure of whether or not she is “getting” the knowledge. It is far better to intermittently test and measure knowledge than wait until a large amount of knowledge has been studied. It is also important to test continually to both reinforce knowledge and to access how well a group is learning the content. This allows the learner to know how much of subject they’ve grasped and allows the designers of the instruction to modify it to meet the needs of the learners. Most gamification platforms have robust analytics that can help the learning and development department monitor instruction and learning rather than simply administering instruction and hoping learners “get it.”

Socialization of Learning
Humans are, of course, social learners. We learn from both observing and talking with others. It is important when developing learning to keep a social aspect. Unfortunately, many self-paced learning modules are not socializing, in fact, they are isolating. The learner travels through an online module in isolation not knowing if others are studying the same material, if they are “getting” fast or if they are struggling.

In gamification platforms I have seen, the learners quickly create dialogues around the content being learned. What often happens is that the learners begin to discuss answers and questions and create a discussion around the system thinks is the right answer and what they believe is the right answer. The socialization of the content becomes a powerful part of the learning process with gamification. The learners talk about the content, analyze the content and try to determine why certain answers are correct and why others are not. It’s an interesting process to watch unfold and it’s great for moving learning from the classroom or computer into the everyday interactions of employees.

Small Victories and Excitement
Many people don’ realize it but games contain both big victories (winning at Monopoly) and small victories (answering a trivia question correctly). A well designed gamification experience allows for many small victories and the feeling of accomplishment among the learners. When a question that the learner previously answered wrong reappears, the excitement of then answering that question correctly and “showing off” newly acquired knowledge is exciting. Gamification, when done well, allows for success and both epic and less-than-epic-but-still-awesome affirmation of knowledge and learning. That affirmation may not typically occur on the job (for whatever reason) and a gamified solution can help the employee achieve mini-victories and receive acknowledgement for their knowledge and skills.

So when you are thinking about implementing a gamified solution, keep these three core concepts in mind.

For more about using games and gamification in the learning see my latest book chapter titled:
Choose Your Level: Using Games and Gamification to Create Personalized Instruction


If you’d like to learn even more about gamification here are some resources you may find helpful.


First here is a link to a video I did as part of a course on Gamification for

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    Articles of Interest:

10 Best Practices for Implementing Gamification

Games, Gamification, and the Quest for Learner Engagement.

Gamification Myths Debunked: How To Sidestep Failure And Boost Employee Learning

8 Gamification of Learning Mistakes You Need to Avoid


Visit for more information on gamification and learning.

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Karl Kapp
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