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From the Adventures of You to eLearning Gamification

March 17, 2015 • gal

Remember Edward Packard’s “Choose your own adventure” series back in the late 70’s? First published as the “Adventures of You” series, the series ushered in a wave of interactive gamebooks.  The books’ readers would assume the role of the plot’s hero and make choices that would determine the protagonist’s action and plot outcome.

Why was the series so popular? Quite simple, instead of the reader being an outside observer to the action taking place in the pages before them, the books were written in the second person with the reader as the protagonist placed right in the middle of the action. Presented with several scenarios and having to make decisions that would directly impact the outcome of the narrative, the reader couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Using consequence style branching, if the story ended in disaster, the reader could just go back, use what they had learnt, make better choices and come out a winner. Readers were fully engaged and fully absorbed. Besides the adrenaline, the format appealed to our innate desire and determination to do well, to experience a sense of mastery and autonomy, to bask in the afterglow of accomplishment and completion, and last, but not least, to win!

Now you’re wondering what all this has to do with the enterprise gamification and eLearning.

Elearning and gamification

Elearning gamification incorporates game mechanics into eLearning for training and  onboarding. Going through elearning tasks and completing them is greatly facilitated by game mechanics. And the similarities between gamified learning and Packard’s book series are striking: narratives are engaging and the sense of autonomy and ability to freely experiment is enagaging, just like any good gamification implementation. When one chooses the wrong path, they can go back until they reach a desired outcome, providing the reader/employee with a sense of mastery.

Correctly implemented eLearning gamification has great ROI, especially if it contains these 10 features:

  1. Narrative environments that provide context and a story- such as racing, sports, contests etc
  2. Breaking up learning into small and manageable tasks
  3. Game mechanics that are individual-centric and learner-driven, i.e. the learner is first and not the content, and even if the learner has peers, he/she still senses he is the hero of his game
  4. Small incremental, achievable challenges– good onboarding practices
  5. Creating levels – from novice to master and recognizing them through badges and quizzes
  6. Ensuring that failures are safe, since users can always try again
  7. Game-style progress stats and points, rewards for reviewing materials and mastering skills
  8. Real-time feedback on performance
  9. Many opportunities to go back and practice, thereby reinforcing what has been learnt.
  10. After a few days, weeks etc., increase information retention by posing questions that challenge learners to remember what they learnt

Modern corporate trainers face employees with shorter attention spans, increasing job demands, information overload – and no time to learn.  Elearning and especially on-the-job elearning, can have surprising results..

Here are some recent statistics that illustrate that eLearning gamification is no passing fad:

  • 74% of companies currently use Learning management systems (LMS) and virtual classroom/webcasting/video broadcasting
  • Large companies are the main purchasers (30%) of eLearning products and services
  • 47% of corporate training hours were delivered by instructor led classroom-only settings (as opposed to dumping said learning materials in newbies lap) —  a 3% year-on-year increase
  • 29.1% of training hours were delivered with blended learning methods  —  a 0.8 increase year-on-year
  • 28.5% of training hours were delivered via online or computer based technologies (no- instructor) — a 2.6% increase year-on-year
  • The self-paced eLearning market is expected to see revenues of $49.9 billion in 2015
  • The worldwide mobile learning market is expected to reach $8.7 billion and $12.2 billion by 2017

There are many more examples and statistics, but the bottom line is that the overall eLearning gamification experience creates happy, engaged employees who are better at their jobs quicker and thereby serves the greater good of the organization for the long-term. Why? It targets the exact same innate desires as the “Adventures of You!”

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