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Game on? The use of gamification in e-learning.

by Sarah Sweeney, Marketing Assistant at Aurion Learning.

SQUARE imageMany HR and L&D professionals face the problem of ensuring that their training and learning programmes maintain learner engagement and motivation. Gamification has been regularly recognised as an opportunity to help solve this problem.

In this post, we consider whether gamification can enhance the learning experience. Before we consider if it is game on for gamification in learning, it is necessary to look at what gamification essentially is.

What is Gamification?

Games and game like components have been invading the learning realm for quite some time now. Although its definition differs, for the most part, gamification in learning is the use of game mechanics to ‘gamify’ content to engage and entice users by encouraging and rewarding use.

Although Nick Pelling first coined the term “gamification” in 2002, it has actually been around for some time – 40 years in fact, with many organisations already using features in their work from video games.

Indeed, it can be said that loyalty programs, target-based bonuses and employee-of-the-month schemes are all examples of how gamification as an incentive to growth has been around for a long time too.

Examples of gamification in learning include:

  • Training: technology giants, Microsoft use gamification to train users of Microsoft Office on how to use the new ribbon interface effectively.
  • Education: New York based school – Quest to Learn, advocates game-based learning to make education more engaging and relevant to children.
  • Employee productivity: Management tool Arcaris uses gamification to improve productivity in call centres.

Now that we know what gamification is and where it is being used in learning, it is necessary to see whether it actually works.

Does Gamification in learning work?

The gamification of e-learning unquestionably presents unique possibilities for learning technologists as they explore additional ways to educate and importantly engage learners.

It is widely recognised that adding interactive activities in e-learning are no longer optional extras, but essential to effective learning. However, it is important that the addition of game like elements into the e-learning programme are only applied in the context of the programme that allow the learner the opportunity to apply their retained knowledge to live situations, rather than distract and dazzle learners with wizardry from the overall learning goal.

Frequently, my social media feeds are inundated with social games, although irritating at times, there is no escaping the surge in popularity of online gaming and social media. The site, DevHub, reported an eightfold increase in the number of users completing their sites after adding gamification elements to the process. If there was any indication that the gamification was a fad, according to research from M2 it’s here not only stay, but increase in its use.

The global market for gamification apps and services will grow to $2.8 billion by 2016.”

The enthusiasm for gamification has however met with some criticism. Game designers Radoff and Robertson have criticised gamification for excluding aspects like storytelling, an important element of learning. Whilst university researcher Deterding, has argued that current approaches to gamification create an artificial sense of achievement.

What does the successful application of gamification in e-learning look like?

  1. Gamification isn’t about games, but the learners.
  2. It isn’t about knowledge but behaviour.
  3. It extracts the motivational techniques out of games and uses them for life-applicable learning.
  4. It allows quick feedback of progress and communications of goals that need to be accomplished.

Gamification is made appealing for e-learning because of our human tendencies.  On the whole, we generally enjoy actively participating engaging and competing with others. Gamification allows learners to connect and learn together with playful applications and incentives, particularly when there are engaging game design elements used.

Today’s learners are however no longer placated with trivial reward systems but rather sophisticated experiences that hold real value. Organisations embracing the gamification in learning can stand to see learners more engaged and retain more information, but only if it is applied aptly to the e-learning programme, achieving the overall core learning objectives.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

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The benefits of using (#)hashtags for e-learning

facebook-hashtagBy Ciara Cunningham, Marketing Manager  

Facebook has joined the #hashtag revolution, allowing users to add the # symbol before a word and making those hashtags #clickable.

Although typically associated with Twitter, hashtags are nothing new on the social scene – Tumblr, Pinterest and other social networks already use hashtags, and Google has announced that it will add these to its Google+ service shortly.  You may have even used them on Facebook, but until now they had no functionality.

So now that Facebook has joined the hashtag revolution, what impact will they have on #elearning?

The new hashtag function is already available to about 20% of the 1 billion+ Facebook users and over the coming weeks, this will be available to everyone who has a Facebook account.

If you are a user or not of Facebook, this new functionality will benefit both the learner and the administrator of the e-learning programme as the use of hashtags will make it easier for users to search for content, and easier to find that topic in search – that is of course dependent that everyone involved in the e-learning programme agrees to append a certain hashtag about a topic!

Additional benefits include:

  • Allows better interaction on a subject.
  • Helps to generate a discussion or raise awareness of a topic.
  • Users can discover other communities discussing the same topic, providing a forum for discussion and broader learning environment.
  • Can be used for monitoring a particular topic.
  • Building a community around content.
  • Makes it easy to aggregate like-minded users under a certain category.

If you are not already using hastags for e-learning, the first thing you need to do is create a hashtag identifying your subject, project, workshop or any other topic you want to track. Before you embark on a hashtag frenzy, you need to do research what you’re about to hashtag before you actually use it.

You can use search hashtag directory services like tagdef.com and hashtags.org to see if your desired hashtag is in use. If you introduce hashtags into your e-learning early, it will also increase learner and user engagement.

Facebook has said that it would roll out additional features, including trending hashtags, in the near future, so we will see then if there are any additional benefits to the e-learning quest!

Happy clicking!

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates. 

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