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In today's rapidly evolving world, technology has become an integral part of virtually every sector, and education is certainly no exception. There has been a notable surge in the use of technology in classrooms in recent times.
From school halls to workplace training programs, all educational spaces are jumping on the opportunity to utilize modern-day tech in their lessons. Amongst all popularly adopted approaches, one particular trend that stands out in this regard is gamified learning.
In this article, we will explore the meaning and relevance of gamified learning. We will also discuss the key drivers of the recent remarkable growth observed in this industry.
What is gamified learning?
Gamification of learning involves a strategic infusion of game-like elements into the educational process.
By incorporating competition-sparking elements like timers, leaderboards, instant judgment and feedback mechanisms, and enticing reward systems, educators can elevate the learning experience and make it more fulfilling. Similar to the thrill of playing a game, this approach offers the students a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
The gamified learning industry has been expanding swiftly owing to its several benefits. As per a report by Market Data Forecast, it is currently growing at a substantial CAGR of 36 percent and is expected to reach a valuation of a whopping $2317 billion by the end of 2026.
Why gamify learning?
The fusion of fun and learning has a long history of success. Today, with Generation Z and Millennials leading the world, gamified learning has reached new heights of relevance.
With over 3 billion active gamers worldwide, the concept's importance is now greater than ever before. Let us take a look at some of the primary advantages of gamifying learning:
- Creating a Fun and Enjoyable Learning Experience: A study by Research Gate found that 86 percent of employees believe that gamified learning makes work more enjoyable. Gamification at work involves rewarding employees based on their performance. This concept of performance-based rewards triggers the release of dopamine (or the 'happy hormone') in individuals whenever they get recognized, which is often in a gamified environment. Therefore, such workplaces tend to have a generally motivated workforce.
- Improved Retention and Application of Knowledge: A gamified system allows students to be fully immersed in the learning experience. This helps heighten focus and leads to a better understanding of course materials. An engaging experience like this also helps with memory retention and improves an employees' ability to apply the knowledge practically.
- Enhanced Feedback Mechanisms: Gamified learning employs point systems and leaderboards to establish a real-time, transparent performance evaluation system. This eliminates feelings of injustice during performance reviews and encourages employees to wholeheartedly embrace their performance scores. As a result, gamification can also contribute to increased harmony within the organization.
- Increased Motivation and Freedom: Within a gamified learning environment, individuals are often more open to experiencing setbacks or losses. This approach promotes a culture of experimentation and nurtures innovative thinking. Embracing the idea that failure is a stepping stone to success empowers employees to learn better and also helps bolster their self-confidence.
Key principles of gamifying learning
Gamified learning offers numerous benefits, but its success hinges on proper implementation. Since each organization is unique, what works for one may not be successful for another.
The ideal strategy can vary significantly based on individual needs and expectations from the process. Some essential factors to consider when developing a gamification strategy are listed as follows:
- Clear and Definite Goals: The effectiveness of gamified learning depends on the quality of goal setting and feedback mechanisms, as indicated by a psychological study conducted by Research Gate. To achieve maximum results, expectations should be crystal clear, and feedback should remain consistent. For example, if you implement a point system, employees must fully understand the rules and the significance of earning these points. Any points awarded or withheld should come with a clear explanation as well.
- Progress Tracking: It is crucial to establish an easy-to-read, transparent metric for tracking progress. Companies may choose to measure performance through different metrics like badges, points, or leaderboards to infuse a gamified appeal. Additionally, communicating the rewards of each process well in advance ensures employees understand what's at stake and helps maintain motivation.
- Challenge and Competition: While fostering healthy competition among employees can make work more engaging and enjoyable, organizations must retain control of the process. Tasks and challenges should be designed with a balance in mind, making them neither too easy, nor too difficult. If competition begins to breed unhealthy rivalries or conflicts, employers must intervene swiftly to mitigate any unpleasant feelings or disputes.
- Collaboration: Promoting teamwork alongside competition can be achieved through regular team-based games. This approach enhances team relations and encourages collaborative problem-solving.
Effective use of rewards in the learning process
As per Harvard Business Review, happy employees perform better and generate higher revenues. To effectively motivate employees, it is essential to understand their motivators.
Knowing what truly drives each employee and customizing rewards to match their unique motivations is key to a successful reward strategy.
For example, a financially secure employee may not find a $15 Starbucks card inspiring, and thus this approach would not help to motivate him. There are two main types of rewards you can use:
- Extrinsic Rewards: Extrinsic rewards encompass material or financial incentives such as salary hikes, perks, and bonuses. They serve as effective starting points in an employee's journey and work best during the initial stages. However, their impact may diminish over time unless consistently provided or increased.
- Intrinsic Rewards: Intrinsic rewards are based on the psychological aspects of human fulfillment. They tap into the emotional and self-esteem needs that a person has at their workplace. Some examples may include positive feedback and recognition programs.
The key to an ideal reward system lies in striking a balance between both types. This equilibrium should be established through a unique ratio tailored to each employee, based on a comprehensive understanding of their individual needs and motivators.
Types of rewards
When it comes to rewarding employees, there are several tried-and-tested systems that are popularly used across firms. They are easy to track and measure, and can be used in conjunction. Some examples are:
- Points: Points are a user-friendly and convenient way of tracking performance. They are flexible to use over different periods of time and for rewarding a variety of achievements.
- Leaderboards: Leaderboards help spark a feeling of excitement and healthy competition. They can motivate employees to improve their performance drastically since there is both an extrinsic and intrinsic benefit to coming out at the top. However, it is imperative that companies maintain absolute transparency in performance measurement to avoid jealousy and feuds while using this system.
- Certificates: Certificates serve as tangible proof of skill acquisition or course completion. They can help encourage learning and upskilling in both new and old employees. Certifications can even be added to an employee’s resume which enhance their charm as an incentive.
- Badges: A badge system is ideal for long-term performance tracking. Badges can be used to recognize specific skills or significant milestones achieved by employees during their tenure with a company.
While implementing reward systems, organizations often encounter common challenges, such as:
- Picking the Right Timing: Deciding when to award employees—either instantly or at specified intervals—varies based on the nature of the reward and the circumstances. Timing is crucial for maximizing the impact of rewards. If given too early or too late, a reward may lose its value. Smaller rewards like certificates or points are best awarded immediately, while bonuses or salary hikes are typically more effective over a longer duration.
- Over-Rewarding: Rewarding employees regularly is important, but excessive rewards can lead to complacency and undermine the value of the entire rewarding process. Maintaining a balanced approach is vital.
- Proportionate Rewards: The value of a reward should align with the task completed. Offering a $500 gift card for completing a mandatory training course, for instance, may lead to financial strain for the organization. Striking the right proportion is essential to avoid such challenges.
In the end, a successful reward strategy hinges on finding the balance between motivating employees and maintaining a responsible approach. Organizations that master this balance excel in fostering employee engagement.
Case studies: Success stories in gamified learning
If you have made it this far in the article, it is safe to assume that you are now well-equipped with a basic understanding of gamified learning, its components, and best practices. Now let us explore some real-world success stories where global brands have benefitted from the efficient application of this approach:
1. Use of gamification in employee training
Deloitte, a global professional service firm, has gained recognition for its innovative gamified learning methods. They employ a gamified approach in their training program known as the "Deloitte Leadership Academy".
This program seamlessly integrates gaming elements like points, badges, and leaderboards to motivate employees to complete training modules. After years of usage, Deloitte has reported positive results, noting a surge in engagement, completion rates, and employee engagement.
The approach has also reportedly helped improve the leadership skills of its employees.
2. Integrating game elements with education
Practical and hands-on learning is gaining prominence. In the present day, Montessori schooling, which prioritizes experiential learning over traditional curriculum-based approaches is becoming increasingly relevant.
While Montessori education isn't exactly the same as gamified learning, both share common principles of practicality and immersive experiences. Thus, looking at the growing acceptance of Montessori education, we can say that a gamified approach to education is definitely a promising venture.
3. Online learning platforms and reward systems
Duolingo, a popular digital language learning platform, also employs gamification in its learning model. It offers users a variety of rewards to maintain engagement. Elements such as daily challenges, streaks, and an in-app currency called "lingots" encourage consistent language practice.
Users receive rewards for completing lessons and maintaining streaks, which fosters regular engagement and language learning. Duolingo's gamified approach is widely celebrated as a central factor contributing to its popularity and user retention.
Gamified learning is a game-changer in the world of education. To maximize the benefits of this revolutionary learning approach, companies need to learn the key principles and proper application techniques.
Several popular global giants, like Deloitte and Duolingo, have embraced gamified learning and yielded significant benefits, showcasing its transformative potential.