Gamification is a powerful tool for engaging learners and enhancing the outcome of the learning experience. However, some features can be discouraging. For example, confusing goals or objectives, constant comparison of learners' performances, or a complicated design can frustrate the users and hinder their motivation. Why is it so important for eLearning gamification features to be encouraging though? Besides motivating the learners to continue studying, gamification should help them retain knowledge and increase their overall satisfaction. Most importantly, when gamification features are truly rewarding, they help learners perform better in the real world. Let's dive into what gamification features you should look for to not discourage your learners.
One of the most inspiring eLearning gamification features is clear goals and objectives. Learners need to know what they're expected to achieve and how to do it. The goals and objectives of any game that you decide to implement in your eLearning platform should be created with the SMART criteria. This means that they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When your learners have their goals planned out, they are more willing to work towards achieving them.
Rewards serve as motivation for learners to complete tasks and achieve the above-mentioned goals. Nevertheless, rewards that are too easy to obtain or don't have any correlation to the game's purpose or storyline can be discouraging. Rewards should be challenging enough to motivate your learners to try to win them, but they must also align with practical outcomes and objectives. For example, is a certificate of completion more beneficial than a badge for learners who need to prove their task mastery?
Learners should be able to track their progress and see how far they have come without being overwhelmed by what lies ahead. For example, a progress bar is encouraging, while a visual representation of what they haven't unlocked might be demotivating for some. The platform needs to provide learners with feedback on what they need to improve but in a non-stress-inducing way. For instance, create a map that features stops along their personalized learning path so that they get a better overview of what they've accomplished and what's up next.
A leaderboard that's available for everyone to see may cause learners to lose their motivation. For some, it creates a sense of comparison, discouraging learners that aren't on top. That said, leaderboards that level the playing field can spark friendly competition. For example, many leaderboards don't display learners' scores accurately since they include performances regardless of when people started using the platform. Thus, you might consider different leaderboards for different stages of the employee journey or specific courses, particularly if they span a longer period.
Gamification should feature collaboration and social interaction. Learners can work together to achieve common goals, share ideas and knowledge, and provide feedback to each other. This creates a sense of community and increases motivation to learn. To add these features, try using discussion forums, chat rooms, and in-game, team-based challenges.
Your learners need to be able to enjoy the learning experience and feel motivated to continue engaging with it. Try adding game-like elements to your eLearning courses. These could be avatars, 3D animations, sound effects, and Virtual Reality (VR) elements. All these will keep your learners entertained while they're learning and make them want to return to their lessons time and again.
Personalization involves tailoring the learning experience to each individual's needs, preferences, and learning styles. Specifically, you can personalize each person's learning path in-game, adapt the platform's algorithm, or use personalized, on-screen feedback. This will encourage learners, as the experience will feel more relevant to their goals, gaps, and interests.
Challenges and difficulty are essential eLearning gamification features that can increase learner motivation. Your learners should be able to feel challenged to stretch their skills and knowledge at all times during the in-game learning activities. However, those said challenges should be appropriately difficult. So, allow users to choose their level of difficulty. If the challenges are too easy, some learners may be bored and disengage. On the other hand, if they're too demanding, learners are most likely to be discouraged or simply give up.
It's important to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the gamification elements in your eLearning courses. One way to do it is by analyzing performance data. This can refer to tracking completion and participation rates and checking your learners' general performance and assessments. By comparing performance data before and after implementing gamification, you can determine if it has a positive impact on learning outcomes. Likewise, learner feedback can show you if the process is effective so that you can make improvements and adjustments. Collect it through surveys, quizzes, or discussion groups.
Whichever eLearning gamification features you implement in your lessons, you need to ensure that they don't compromise your learners' privacy. Some of the above features require personal data, so there must be transparency about how it's being collected, used, and shared. Since you don't want this data to be vulnerable to unauthorized access or hacking, you must have some security measures in place. Also, your eLearning platform should give learners the option to opt out if they ever feel unsafe.
Some of the above eLearning gamification features may exclude certain learners, particularly those who face accessibility issues. As an instructor or course designer, you should provide different methods of representation, such as audio or visual options. Additionally, you can offer alternative gamification activities to accommodate different learning needs and disabilities.
Gamification can improve training outcomes and keep your learners fully engaged. However, you need to be careful when implementing it so as not to discourage and overwhelm them. Follow the above strategies to empower your learners without making them venture too far out of their comfort zone when it comes to privacy and competition. You can also check out our list of Top eLearning Gamification Companies to find the right outsourcing partner for your eLearning program.
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