Does Gamification Improve the Effectiveness of Learning Programmes?
As blended and virtual learning increasingly comes to the fore, people are increasingly looking at things like mobile learning and gamification to augment and improve learning programmes in terms of engagement and efficacy.
We quite like both of these features and few would argue that making learning accessible on phones, any time, anywhere in the world is a bad thing. However, gamification remains a more debated topic.
What is gamification?
Gamification is the practice of designing assessments, quizzes, exercises or other activities, that learners complete in a competitive or semi-competitive manner. That is to say; they are mini competitions within the programme.
Now if we look at the benefits of gamification; there are quite a few. Firstly, fun games and competitions made out of activities that are part of the course makes the work more enjoyable to complete and seem less arduous.
Secondly, the element of competition can bring the best out of some people and increase engagement within the programme. This engagement will bleed into other areas too, like increased engagement with workshops or training sessions and coaching sessions.
An aide to memory retention?
Gamification can also aid memory retention and assessment results by encouraging people to concentrate on and retain the information since people know they will have a competitive activity to complete following the session.
However, there are some perceived cons to gamification, such as the addition of a certain amount of pressure. Some people learn well under pressure, and we could argue that leaders, managers and high performers need to be able to deal with pressure. We could also suggest that some people learn better without the added stress and that perhaps the learning environment is a place that does not require additional pressure.
Secondly, for people to compete, and for people to win, there also needs to be people who lose or do not do as well. Competition could therefore actually result in a loss of engagement, embarrassment or otherwise negative feelings towards the programme.
Additionally, sometimes these competitions are added in, on top of compulsory assessments, which is not necessarily the best way to go about it, since then the activities could add to the overall workload of the participants.
Overall, we think that gamification can be an excellent thing, the pressure is part of life and seeing this reflected, to a small degree, in learning programmes. Plus you can allow people to use pseudonyms to complete the games if they are hosted on an LMS, meaning that people who do not do as well, are not necessarily ‘named and shamed’.
Ultimately it is not for everyone, or rather, not for every programme, but for the right programmes, where you are trying to assess people’s potential, a bit of pressure and competition may well be a good thing.