by Sarah Sweeney, Marketing Assistant at Aurion Learning.
Many 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?
- Gamification isn’t about games, but the learners.
- It isn’t about knowledge but behaviour.
- It extracts the motivational techniques out of games and uses them for life-applicable learning.
- 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.
By Glynn Jung
Whichever product or service you seek, an organised, comprehensive selection process is required – perusing websites of e-learning companies just doesn’t work. The selection process for a suitable e-learning vendor should be guided by whether they are supplying:
- off the shelf e-learning titles or
- design and development services.
It helps if you develop a checklist, (indeed most purchasing departments demand this) so that you are consistent in comparisons. We recommend listing all the attributes of a perfect-fit vendor and deciding which features are must-haves, whether these are immediate needs or future growth and finally how important each feature is (“points”).
We also recommend that organisations adopt the “MoSCoW” method for determining their needs. This is based on agreeing:
- ‘should have’
- ‘could have’ and
- ‘would be nice to have’ – most organisations concentrate exclusively on “must have”.
Below is a sample checklist that you might consider as a starting point for your own selection of a technology vendor.
In any e-learning vendor selection process there are generally a number of important criteria, such as pricing, technology, quality, service and so on. With regard to technology, ensure your vendors know what they will be dealing with in your organisation.
|Attribute||Must Have||Now or Future||Points|
|Does the vendor serve organisations similar to yours?|
|What do current customers similar to yourselves say|
|Is the vendor’s customer base sizeable enough to ensure continued operation?|
|Are customer references available?|
|Does the vendor support customer implementations with training and support?|
|Can the vendor assure you of a successful implementation?|
|Does the vendor have a proven plan for implementation of its system?|
|How long has the vendor been operating in the e-learning market?|
|Is pricing in line with similar offerings?|
|Does the vendor rely primarily on revenue from its commercial system or is customization a large part of its income?|
|Does the vendor offer a base price that scales with volume?|
|Does the price include everything you will require to get started?|
|Can you see a relationship between cost and quality?|
|Does the vendor guarantee successful operation?|
|Is there a stated quality policy?|
|Are “bugs” resolved quickly or do they wait for a future release?|
|How easy is the system to use: How much training is required?|
|Does the system require minimal resources for administration?|
|How reliable is the system: How often and for how long does it go down?|
|Do the technical qualifications reflect our technology|
|Is the system’s technology up to date? State-of-the-art?|
|Does the vendor rely on outside support for its basic services?
Is the system capable of delivering current types of media?
|Does the vendor provide multiple solutions for your needs?|
|Can the system support with various authoring tools?|
|Does the system support the browsers we need supporting?|
|Does the system support mobile devices?|
|Does the system support our compliance requirements?|
|Are maintenance fees readily available?|
|Does the vendor require the purchase of periodic updates?|
|Does the vendor provide 24/7customer support?|
|Does the system support multiple languages?|
|Does the system support the accessibility we require?|
|Can the software be placed in Escrow?|
Bespoke e-learning development
If the need is for bespoke course development or off-the-shelf titles many of the same technical considerations still apply. You need to ensure that any course content can be accessed and viewed using devices which your staff will be using. You further need samples of their work to compare but before you do this we recommend you identify:
- who will be using the courses,
- where they’ll be using them and
- what you consider to be fit-for-purpose regarding design of content.
For example if your IT people operate a “no download, no plugins” policy that the course material requires no extra software, will operate properly on your LMS (if you use one) or as a web-playable course and on any special devices your learners may use.
Location of learning is significant – if it’s in a retail store, warehouse or factory audio is rendered virtually useless.
Your list may be modified as you start talking to potential vendors: the critical thing is to keep your absolute priorities and needs in front of you at all times and not be swayed by sophisticated marketing or sales.
Project planning and management.
Ensure the vendor provides a clear project approach which is logical and understandable – they’re the experts so they should be able to keep to plan, warn of any pitfalls and deliver on time, within budget and to agreed benchmarks.
The final thing I want to talk about is working relationships. Working with willing, supportive, responsive and flexible vendors can quickly develop into a true partnership: if you really solely on numerical weighting systems you run the risk of attempting to work with people who don’t fit your organisation’s or people’s style and culture.
Demand three personal referees similar to yourselves in their client base. Talk to these referees; don’t use a pro forma reference form: find out what they’re like to work with and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Also find out who will actually be working on your project: assess them as people when you come to interview your shortlisted companies – have a get-out clause ready in case the sales time disappears after they’ve closed the business and there’s no-one to talk to in the vendor organisation who understand your needs.
What checklist do you use when selecting a vendor? Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this checklist.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Glynn Jung
Glynn Jung is Non-Executive Director at Aurion Leanring. He has over 25 years’ experience delivering innovative and cost-effective learning and process improvement strategies for a wide range of public, private and third sector organisations.
A big welcome to Steve Curtis, EMEA Channel Director at NetDimensions who is our guest blogger for the next six posts.
In this series of blogs, Steve will give us an over-view of Talent Management, taking in competencies and ratings; competency assessments; terms and box reporting; performance appraisals and PDPs; and succession planning. In this first blog post, Steve provides a top level overview of talent management.
What is Talent Management?
The reality is that Talent Management has been around ever since people hired people. As companies got larger and larger it became more and more difficult to sort out the good from the bad, the workaholic from the lazy, etc. Human Resource Management groups were born, and as software evolved then groups like PeopleSoft came to the fore to sell solutions to these groups. I worked for PeopleSoft for 8.5 years and even though nobody ever used the term Talent Management, there were still a group of applications that did the functions that Talent Management systems of today try to do.
The second real truth. Not one vendor of software has a fully functional Talent Management solution. Not one. Many vendors claim to have Talent Management solutions, and some cover a number of the vertical pillars of Talent Management but nobody does it all. It is actually very difficult to provide all of the vertical components; even Oracle is not able to do this yet…so if you get into a debate with a client always bear this in mind. So back to what it is… I will shortly share a diagram that I liked about it, but basically, Talent Management covers recruitment, workforce planning, performance management, succession planning, learning, and goes all the way through to compensation management. It is a full circle approach to the management of the people within your business, where performance affects compensation, compensation affects performance, learning affects performance, performance and potential affects succession planning, etc etc. I’ll cover much more detail on each part and what to think about when selling and talking about it at a future stage…but back to the high levels…
Who do we sell Talent Management to?
We then come to the conundrum of selling Talent Management….most companies that you sell into do not have an integrated Talent Management strategy. I found over the years and am still finding it today that a business’s internal structure will tell you a lot about what you can sell them. Most companies still have someone responsible for L&D, and you will often find three things about this person:
- They don’t talk very often to the HR Director.
- They know nothing about performance and Talent, and if they do, they have very little influence over any decisions related to this.
- Their budget and their empire is very much focused on Learning.
Talking to HR Directors you find that most of them have very little real interest in Learning. HR Directors are focused on three things:
- How do I support the CEO’s aim to maximise shareholder value – otherwise known as operating profit?
- How do I make my business an *attractive place for people to want to work? E.g. How do I attract the best Talent?
- How do I minimise the churn rates in my business?
They are often looking two or three years in the future, but at the same time you often find in talking to them that fire-fighting takes much more of their day to day activity than they would like. IT systems are often seen more of a challenge, and with Learning only being one component of a full solution, in actuality they are more likely to take the view that a single corporate view of people from a single system would add a lot more value than multiple silos for learning, development, performance, compensation etc. However since the business has a group who just looks after the L&D requirements you are actually likely to find that the HR Director has a HR business that is not ready to take on an integrated system – so most businesses will still come to market with a specific part of Talent Management and with an RFP where the “strategic direction” they want from the software vendor is for an “Integrated Talent Management Strategy”. In reality most businesses current structure will make this a difficult thing to implement…
Ok – so I hope this helps – top level on Talent Management, and top level on who NetDimensions sells Talent Management solutions to. I intend to drill down in the coming chapters into the different functional areas, and next week’s blog will link us from learning into competencies and the management of these things – the positives and the negatives, how most vendors talk about competencies, and the average HR Director’s view.
Bye for now, Steve.
By Maresa Molloy, Instructional Designer
We love when clients come to us full of enthusiasm for a new e-learning programme but comments like: “Our staff need to know our policies – let’s put them online into an e-learning programme,” or “We need to make sure they’ve read all the material – an e-learning programme is perfect!” can set the alarm bells ringing.
Educating staff on new information, and identifying whether or not they’ve read and understood the material, are perfectly good reasons for developing an e-learning programme. Bombarding your staff with everything you know about the information and making sure they can recite it word perfect is not.
Imagine trying to educate your staff on Health & Safety and providing them with pages and pages of policies and procedures on Health & Safety and then expecting them to list these verbatim. This is clearly not a good idea – they’ll never remember all of the material and they’ll get bored fairly quickly.
Now imagine providing your staff with a course which teaches them the key information on these policies and procedures and showing them how to apply these in their work. This is clearly more effective.
But how do you split the wheat from the chaff?
At Aurion Learning, we believe that the key to designing a successful, performance based e-learning programme is to identify current performance gaps. To do this, we use what we call our ‘DIF analysis’:
- What tasks do your learners find Difficult?
- What tasks do they find Important to their jobs?
- What tasks do they do Frequently?
Once you know these tasks, you can design a course which targets what they really need to learn, and furthermore, you can spend more time and resources focusing on making this content more interactive and enjoyable.
|Assume that your goal is to increase their knowledge.||Identify what they need to do differently.|
|Provide all of the information you have on the subject.||Provide only the information that can help them do something differently.|
|Ensure that they know all of the information.||Ensure that they can use the information.|
(Source material Cathy Moore)
In summer 2011, Aurion Learning hosted an e-learning masterclass in Dublin. Delegates came from the Irish Health Services Executive (national health service), health agencies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies from across Ireland, and included human resources, IT and training professionals. They all had one thing in common – responsibility for delivering learning and development across their organisations. Several delegates were already experienced in delivering e-learning and blended learning projects, while others hadn’t yet started the journey of online learning.
During the event, we wanted to get a better understanding of the challenges learning and development professionals in the health sector are facing today and so we carried out some market research with our delegates.
Here are our findings:
What is the biggest learning & development challenge facing your organisation today?
- Lack of funding /resources/manpower
- Lack of time to develop training
- Securing management commitment
- Learners not being given enough time to actually participate in training
- Lack of structured training / continuing professional development
- Identify what we want to do and can do – moving from strategy to implementation
- Responding to learning needs with small training budgets
- Achieving relevance
- Adopting a coherent coordinated approach across a large organisation – multiple departments & contacting trainees.
- Speed of delivery
- Lack of confidence/competence in use of e-learning
Getting others on-board / Culture change
- Changing the organisational culture into a learning culture
- Securing buy-in from management & staff to blended and e-learning programmes
- Low staff motivation
- Resistance to change (moving from traditional face-to-face model to e-learning)
- Knowing which technology to choose to support learning (learning management systems, e-learning authoring tools, learning portals etc.)
- IT support
- Staff access to IT systems and technologies (restriction to many educational websites/firewalls)
- Administration support & maintenance of any systems developed.