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Incentivized learning is the fusion of online learning with a reward system, encouraging participation to upskill and improve knowledge.

As per LinkedIn's Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees say they are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their learning and development. 

This strategic approach offers many advantages for businesses and learners alike, leading to increased engagement, enhanced productivity, and improved customer service.

However, the shift to online learning environments presents challenges such as low course completion rates, lack of engagement, and absence of healthy competition. Addressing these challenges through carefully crafted rewards and incentives can unlock the full potential of your learning program.

What does incentivized learning mean?

Incentivized learning refers to a learning approach where learners are motivated or incentivized to engage in educational activities through rewards, recognition, or other forms of positive reinforcement. These incentives can take various forms, such as:

  • Financial rewards: Providing monetary incentives such as scholarships, stipends, or cash prizes for achieving certain learning milestones or academic excellence.
  • Recognition: Offering certificates, badges, or other forms of acknowledgment to learners who demonstrate proficiency or make significant progress in their learning journey.
  • Gamification: Incorporating elements of games, such as levels, points, leaderboards, and rewards, into the learning process to make it more engaging and enjoyable.
  • Opportunities: Offering opportunities for advancement, such as access to special programs, mentorship, internships, or job placements, based on learning achievements.
  • Personalized incentives: Tailoring incentives to individual learners based on their interests, preferences, or learning goals to increase their motivation and engagement.

By incorporating incentives into the learning process, educators and organizations aim to enhance learners' motivation, persistence, and overall learning outcomes. However, it's essential to strike a balance between extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivation to ensure that learners develop a genuine interest and passion for learning.

Compelling benefits of incentivized learning

In an ideal world, a learner would enthusiastically take up learning programs and complete them on time. However, the reality is that they need that extra ‘nudge’ to learn willfully, which can be easily accomplished through rewards.

The advantages of implementing incentivized learning go far beyond simply keeping employees engaged. Here are some key benefits you can expect:

  • Increased engagement: Studies show that incentivized learning can boost motivation and engagement by up to 60%. Imagine your employees eagerly participating in training, not just for the sake of it, but for the opportunity to earn rewards and recognition.
  • Enhanced productivity: With increased engagement comes improved productivity. Companies using e-learning tools and strategies can see a drastic increase in productivity. 
  • Improved fustomer service: Well-informed and engaged employees are better equipped to handle customer inquiries efficiently and effectively. This can lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
An article in Forbes states that training is often perceived as something distracting or unnecessary. Despite spending more than $60 billion on employee development every year, many executives question whether it is worthwhile. In contrast, research indicates that your entire corporate learning strategy is one of the most valuable competitive advantages.

Addressing the challenges of online learning

While online learning offers numerous benefits, it also presents challenges. Let's explore some common pain points and how incentivized learning can address them:

  • Low course completion rates: A Columbia University’s teacher college study on edX and Coursera courses shows that MOOC courses have a completion rate of 15% or less. Incentivized learning, with its motivational rewards, can significantly increase course completion, ensuring your employees gain the full benefit of the training.
  • Lack of learner engagement: A study by the University of Central Florida identifies three underlying satisfaction components: engaged learning, agency, and assessment. Gamified elements like leaderboards, rankings, and badges can spark healthy competition and drive social recognition, leading to deeper learner engagement.
  • Absence of student competition: Challenge-based gamification, where learners compete individually or as teams, can improve educational outcomes by up to 89.45%. This fosters a culture of continuous learning and development.

Why learners drop out (and how to fix it)

Understanding the reasons behind course abandonment is crucial for designing effective incentives.

  • Lack of competitive scores & ranks: Limited peer collaboration and interaction leads to lack of motivation to complete courses. Gamification elements like leaderboards and personalized learning paths can ignite a healthy dose of competition and provide a sense of progress.
  • Boring & mundane rewards: Reward is a big gratification to drive behaviors. Offering diverse and relevant rewards is key. Consider brand vouchers, digital gift cards, meal coupons, or even paid time off to cater to various preferences.
  • Delayed gratification for trainers: Online courses lack immediate payouts for trainers, and are not integrated with existing applications. Integrate incentives into the learning platform itself, offering immediate rewards upon completion of milestones or successful training outcomes. This keeps trainers engaged and motivated.

It works! Proven benefits of incentivized learning

Numerous studies have documented the positive impact of incentivized learning. Research shows it can boost course completion rates by a significant margin, helping learners stick with the program and truly solidify their knowledge. 

Additionally, studies reveal reduced time taken to complete courses, highlighting the efficiency gains associated with motivated learners. However, the benefits extend beyond completion rates. 

Incentives have been shown to spark increased engagement, leading to deeper understanding and retention. They also foster a culture of continuous learning, motivating individuals to seek out new skills and knowledge actively, ultimately driving improved individual and organizational performance. 

Let’s get to know it in a bit of detail.

  • Boost course completion rates: Gamification with rewards has demonstrably increased completion rates across various age groups and learning contexts.
  • Reduce time taken to complete a course: By associating rewards with milestones, organizations can significantly reduce the time it takes employees to complete training programs.
  • Customizable rewards: Organizations can tailor rewards to their specific needs and budget, ensuring relevance and impact for diverse learner groups.

Unlocking learner potential with gamification

Gamification is a powerful tool for driving engagement and motivation in incentivized learning. Here's how it can benefit your learners:

  • Enhanced engagement: Leaderboards and rankings create a sense of competition and achievement, keeping learners motivated and invested in the learning process.
  • Social recognition: Public recognition for outstanding performance fosters a sense of belonging and encourages healthy competition.
  • Positive reinforcement: Rewards and incentives act as positive reinforcement, solidifying knowledge and promoting long-term retention.
  • Real-time feedback: Gamified elements provide immediate feedback on performance, allowing learners to track their progress and adjust their approach as needed.

Let’s have a look at one such case study where gamifying helped in  soaring success

How did Duolingo improves its daily engagement rate by 22%

Duolingo, the global leader in gamified language learning, boasts over 500 million active users and an impressive 22% daily engagement rate. This remarkable success story can be largely attributed to its innovative approach, which embeds gamification elements and incentives throughout the learning journey.

Challenge: Language learning often felt tedious and repetitive. Traditional methods lacked engagement, leading to high dropout rates and incomplete learning journeys. Duolingo saw the need for a fresh approach that would motivate users to stick with their learning goals.

Solution: Enter Duolingo's gamified learning system, where language acquisition becomes a fun and rewarding experience. 

Here are the key elements that contributed to their success:

  • Points & badges: Every completed lesson, streak, and challenge earns users points and badges. This creates a sense of progress and achievement, fueling motivation to continue learning.
  • Leaderboards: Users compete with friends and the global community on leaderboards, fostering a healthy dose of competition and keeping them engaged.
  • Streaks: Maintaining a daily learning streak unlocks virtual rewards and motivates users to stay consistent.
  • Lingots: This virtual currency, earned through learning activities, can be used to purchase power-ups and customization options, personalizing the experience and adding an element of fun.
  • Hearts: Users have a limited number of lives, losing one for incorrect answers. This gamified element adds a touch of challenge and encourages focus during lessons.
  • Community Forums: Duolingo fosters a vibrant community where users can connect, discuss their learning journeys, and offer support to each other.

Results: The impact of gamification on Duolingo is undeniable

  • Increased Engagement: Daily engagement rate of 22% far exceeds the average for educational apps, highlighting the success of their gamified approach.
  • Reduced Dropout Rates: Duolingo boasts significantly lower dropout rates compared to traditional language learning methods, indicating a more sustainable learning experience.
  • Improved Skill Development: Users report significant improvements in language skills, with many reaching conversational fluency through consistent practice.
  • Global Impact: Duolingo has democratized language learning, offering free access to millions worldwide, regardless of location or socio-economic background.

Key learnings

Duolingo's success story provides valuable insights for organizations seeking to engage learners and promote knowledge retention:

  • Gamification can be a powerful tool for driving engagement and motivation in learning, especially for digital audiences.
  • By incorporating various reward systems and challenges, learning can become a fun and interactive experience.
  • Building a strong community fosters user interaction and support, further enhancing the learning journey.
  • Personalization and customization options cater to individual preferences and keep users invested.

Duolingo's gamified approach to language learning stands as a testament to the power of innovative educational methods. By prioritizing engagement, motivation, and community, they have not only helped millions learn new languages but also revolutionized the learning landscape, inspiring countless organizations to explore the potential of gamification in their own educational endeavors.

Let's face it, traditional learning can often feel like a slog. Information overload, dry lectures, and a lack of engagement can quickly zap motivation, leaving learners disengaged and dropping out before they ever reach their full potential

Incentives and rewards programs are the most flexible options a company can use to accomplish various goals. Motivating learners can increase engagement, build loyalty, and build great relationships.

Xoxoday can be the platform from which you can automate the distribution of rewards based on learning milestones, eventually driving successful course completion.

It also provides customized rewards to cater to the various needs of the participants. Got over 1 mn+ different reward options from 20+ different categories, including brand vouchers, experiences, and e-gift cards.

And the best part? It's all seamless and easy to integrate within your LMS. 

Let’s make it sound more promising. Have a look at how NIIT transformed employee experience with Xoxoday.

How did Xoxoday helped NIIT increase the employee experience

NIIT is a leading Skills and Talent Development Corporation that is building a manpower pool for global industry requirements. The company, which was set up in 1981 to help the nascent IT industry overcome its human resource challenges, today ranks among the world's leading training companies owing to its vast, yet comprehensive array of talent development programs.

With a presence across 40 nations, NIIT offers training and development solutions to individuals, enterprises and institutions.

The challenge: Limited engagement and cumbersome rewards

NIIT, a global leader in skills and talent development, faced a challenge in keeping its educators motivated and engaged. Their existing reward system, reliant on vendor-supplied vouchers for internal competitions, felt restrictive and lacked variety. With a geographically dispersed workforce and a growing need for a robust recognition program, NIIT sought a solution to:

  • Enhance employee engagement: Foster a culture of appreciation and recognition that goes beyond traditional methods.
  • Offer flexible and diverse rewards: Provide educators with a wider range of options to choose from, catering to individual preferences.
  • Streamline the reward process: Ensure a smooth and efficient experience from nomination to redemption.

The solution

  • A rich reward catalog: A diverse selection of options, including experiences, merchandise, gift cards, and more, catering to varied interests and preferences.
  • Seamless redemption: A user-friendly platform for educators to easily browse, select, and redeem their rewards.
  • Exceptional customer service: Dedicated support to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience for both NIIT and its educators.

The Impact

  • Increased employee engagement: Educators feel more valued and appreciated, leading to higher participation in internal initiatives and competitions.
  • Improved employee satisfaction: The wider range of reward options and the ease of redemption have boosted overall employee satisfaction.
  • Enhanced company culture: A culture of recognition and appreciation has been fostered, leading to a more positive and motivated workforce.

NIIT's story is a testament to the power of effective employee recognition and reward programs. By partnering with Xoxoday, they have successfully created a culture of appreciation that motivates their educators, fosters engagement, and ultimately drives organizational success.

Final words 

Struggling to keep your online learners engaged and motivated? You're not alone. Many organizations face challenges with completion rates and the dreaded "learning slump.” By strategically offering rewards and gamification elements, you can transform online learning from a slog into a stimulating journey.

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