Engaging learners, be it in a K-12 scenario or employee training, is a known challenge in development and learning circles.
Over the years, a lot of research has been conducted with the hope of finding out more about how the human brain learns. Thanks to this research, combined with advancements in technology, we now have tools at our disposal that are designed specifically to keep learners engaged.
One well-known technique to engage learners is gamification. To put it into simple words, gamification is the practice of adding game-like elements to a training experience.
It is a proven technique that uses the mind’s reaction to receiving a reward to motivate learners to invest themselves into the training program and ultimately help them perform better.
In order to successfully implement gamification in your training experience, you will require a robust learning management system (LMS) with gamification-enabled features. The right gamification LMS for your needs will depend on the features offered by the LMS, so it’s important to know what features exist and how you can use them.
What Is a Learning Management System?
A learning management system is a virtual platform designed to store and distribute training material. Most modern learning management systems are based on the cloud and allow for training material to be easily shared with the learners.
Modern day LMS also offer tracking capabilities, which allow you to see reports and other data that shows how your learners are doing. These platforms can also be used to deliver a blend of self-paced and virtual instructor-led training, offering a complete set of capabilities like in-built whiteboards and video recording features. The availability of such features may vary among different products and will also have a significant influence on the cost and the user-friendliness of the LMS.
LMS also offer the ability to add game-like features that are scientifically proven to improve your learners’ motivation and, consequently, their engagement with the learning experience. Once again, not all gamification LMS are built the same, and some may offer a different set of features than their competitors.
The following are some of the most basic yet effective gamification features that your LMS should have. Choosing an LMS with all these features will allow you to build a vibrant training experience for all your learners.
Awarding points as a reward of good performance is perhaps the easiest way to implement gamification, in theory.
In reality, implementing a point mechanism is a complex task because in order to truly drive impact with this strategy, you must assign a point reward to every possible action or task that a learner may complete. You cannot, for instance, simply give out points to those performing well in assessments because that would simply be giving out scores after a test.
For this reason, successfully implementing a point system will require a lot of diligence and a solid plan. At the same time, you will also require an LMS that enables you to associate point-based rewards with as many learner actions as you want.
Badges are perhaps one of the most common gamification features used by learning administrators.
When a badge system is implemented, a learner is rewarded with a colourful badge whenever they complete a certain module or achieve something extraordinary.
When looking at the badges feature in an LMS, look for the ability to customize badges. This way, you will be able to create custom badges for specific activities that you think your learners should perform in order to achieve better results.
Another popular gamification feature, levels offer an easy and straightforward way to introduce a simple gamification element to your training experience.
Popular learning apps, such as the language learning app Duolingo, have used this feature beautifully to incentivize learners to keep moving forward with their chosen course and ultimately boost completion rates.
When looking at the levels feature, make sure you enquire about the ability to display the “big picture” of the course to the learner. This way, they will be able to not only see how far they have come, but will also be able to see how far they have to go.
Another popular gamification feature, leaderboards don’t just incentivize learners with friendly competition, they also enable organizations to identify top performers and individuals that can become future managers.
With that said, leaderboards are usually paired with point systems. Therefore, you must first integrate a point system with all the relevant online activities that your learners can perform in the LMS and then think about introducing a leaderboard feature.
Choosing the Right Blend of Features and Utility
While most learning management systems do offer these features, they may not be designed the same way in each product. Your goal should be to pick a learning management system that offers all of these features, without the presence of a complex user interface.
Of course, budget is also a significant consideration. The more features offered by an LMS, the more it is likely to cost. If possible, use an LMS that lets you add features as your budget permits.
Chances are, you will not require all of these features at once. In the beginning, you may be using one or a combination of two features in your course. However, when picking an LMS, it is best to think about your future training needs and find a tool that can not only support your present training initiatives, but can also be scaled up as your organization grows.
Choose Your LMS Wisely
Technology has revolutionized almost all areas of our lives. This revolution has led to the development of habits that have never existed before. When it comes to training, regardless of the level, it is important to address and account for the newly developed learning habits and styles of modern learners who are heavily influenced by digital technology.
Points, badges, levels, and leaderboards may be some of the most basic gamification features that you can employ for your training experience, but there is no doubt that they will add a much-needed element of healthy competition to your training experience.
Choose an LMS with these four features and your training programs will be full of successful learners.