How to Gamify your Content for Improved Performance
Corporate Training; Small Businesses; K12 Education | By: Erin Patrick-Proza
We often hear the terms “engagement” and “improved performance” in the world of training or learning and development, but what do they actually mean and how do we actually achieve them? Are these achieved with a passing score on an assessment or improved performance on the job? Or both? What does gamification offer to this endeavor, and is it more than trivia recall? In this blog, we will address all these questions and expand on some practical and applicable tips to ‘get you in the game’ with confidence.
Gamification is more relevant now than ever before.
While we tackle the sometimes-nebulous concepts of “engagement” or “improved performance” it’s important to start with this premise, which is that recent data suggests that no matter how fantastic you are as a facilitator, if your participants are attending mandatory training, they will likely not be engaged (Dye, 2020). And if the prevailing wisdom states that low engagement contributes to poorer performance and less applicable knowledge, that’s a big bummer. This also speaks to the ubiquitous external motivators of modern training- even with online options- where learners are directed to participate instead of learners asking to participate. But what if we could rely more on those intrinsic motivators for learning and development? What if we could create an environment where participants had ownership of their own learning process and were motivated to continue their development through engaging content delivery? Enter gamification.
But first, what is an “engaged learner”?
The industry (of L&D or Education) has developed this term to be a bit of a grab-bag mashup of learner subject-matter interest/expertise, attitude, motivation, and mastery. Often, it is conflated primarily with motivation in relation to learning or participating. And it is also something that should have observable behaviors and outcomes. But there is no standard method of measuring “engagement” because we have not been able to collectively define it in this context, and things that are not examined are often hard to improve. We also like to think of learning as a static and fixed-point experience, when the modern research suggests that’s not the case. Learner engagement is rather fluid, sometimes changing from moment to moment throughout the learning experience. This means learners are responding to their learning environment and may be engaged positively or negatively as a result, or not at all.
"Rather than a stable characteristic, learning is better characterized by a continuous interaction within a learning environment to develop expertise."
-Dr. Charles Dye, The Learner’s Guild Research
This creates a difficult challenge for practitioners and facilitators to provide this unique environment that can meet all these learning objectives: create interest; deliver quality content; improve knowledge retention; allow for real-time feedback; and respond to the learner’s need for interactivity. Of course, there are many tools available now for virtual and online learning, but if not employed correctly, they may be a waste of resources and time - gamification included.
How to Gamify your Content
Gamification can help you achieve these learning objectives and improve learning outcomes that are immediate and easily observable. Transcend mandatory training from something people want to avoid to something they look forward to participating in, all through the power of play. Gamification speaks to our intrinsic motivators, whether we’re competing against our colleagues or competing with ourselves to answer the next question correctly, thereby creating a robust experience that encourages engagement and creates a culture of learning that’s also fun.
1. Keep it short and sweet
Microlearning and Gamification are a beautiful fit. Microlearning, as a concept, is all about short learning nuggets that are easy to consume but pack a powerful punch for repetition and retention of knowledge. This requires some planning on your content delivery. For instance, create a short game to revisit a single concept or the last several slides of a lecture, which will also allow for participants to interact with your content. In virtual learning, participants should be interacting every 8 minutes.
2. Upskilling, Reskilling, and ongoing Development
Gamification is also a wonderful way to allow for upskilling and reskilling your talent pool with games and quizzes as ways to solidify mini modules. Create a learning ‘arcade’ with short, self-paced options for them to complete throughout their day in-between tasks with data and analytics to provide valuable feedback.
3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training
Improve your company culture with DEI Training that sparks empathy and understanding through a less threatening environment of games and quizzes. Check out our Pride Month Trivia Quiz as an example, and a reference for how easy it is to create this kind of content!
4. Incremental Learning
Gamification can be your best friend when used correctly. Rather than just a final trivia review, gamify your content to include learning before, during, and after your training sessions. This may be the most underrated but important aspect of gamified training: this approach of incremental gamification paired with your content creates the magical alchemy of serious learning that’s also fun and highly effective. The learners get instant feedback on their progression, and the facilitators also get feedback on the efficacy of their program.
Perhaps some inspiration from how some of our current clients do this would help clarify:
* Use a SPARK quiz as an onboarding/orientation tool to help establish a baseline of their knowledge and proficiency before their technical training.
* Use TALLY to repurpose your PowerPoint content into an interactive presentation
* Use a QUIZ SHOW game during an instructor-led session to review your module
* Use WHIRL to shore up competency after a session and improve retention
Whether you’re looking to improve mandatory training or to boost your company culture and employee morale, gamification is here to deliver. In addition to improved learning outcomes and performance on the job, gamified training also helps bridge the gaps because just about every person loves games. This allows for more communication, collaboration, and innovation in the workplace through improved social channels.
And let’s face it, exclusive classroom training is now a thing of the past, and modern learners expect to have many options for their learning experience and that includes gamification.
At C3 SoftWorks, we’re passionate about helping people find unique solutions to their training and education goals and have over 35 years of experience in those fields. We strive to make gamification easy, and our single but powerful platform can deliver many ways to make your training more engaging. If you’d like some ideas on how to do so, we’re here to help.
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