"Gamification is simply another term for creativity and thinking outside of the box. Gamification for eLearning can take training to a whole new level."
eLeLearning is a fascinating line of work. Now maybe I’m the odd one out here, but I didn’t grow up saying to myself, “Boy, I want to be an eLearning developer.” Actually, I wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to be a video game designer. I was torn between the two because I enjoyed reading and writing, but I’m also an avid gamer. My gaming experience dates back to the Magnavox Odyssey and the Atari 2600.
Of course, I soon found out that programming games requires a lot of math. And physics. I also discovered through much trial and error that getting published isn’t easy either. Fast forward a few years and a web design degree to myself accepting a job as an eLearning developer. Who knew?
With the rise of gamification in eLearning, creating courses often brings similarities to creating video games, just more purposeful and educational ones. The industry has come a long way from simple bullet point and picture slideshows. Gamification is a tool, however, and while it’s a powerful one, it’s one that must be used judiciously. Not every eLearning needs a suite of achievements, levels and a leaderboard. Sometimes a simple, well-made video will suffice.
You can, however, sprinkle that “gamification” feel into all kinds of training. Without turning all your courses into full-fledged gaming masterpieces, you can still add elements such as trophies, point tracking, interactive menus, or other small touches to liven it up. For example, I worked on a course covering what could have been a rather dry topic – compliance training and billing procedures for vision care and pharmacy centers. We were able to spice it up, however, with a comic book style design that has users reading the material graphic-novel style (with appropriate voice talent) and then finishing with a randomized quiz in the same vein.
Another, more simple idea is including a world map or overworld into your training. We used this concept when creating an orientation course for an electrical utility company. Instead of a table of contents, the users would select topics represented by sections of a darkened town map. Once they completed each topic, that section of the map would light up as if it had regained power.
These are just a few examples of how incorporating gamification into your training doesn’t mean having to turn it into the next smash video game hit. I believe that gamification is simply another term for creativity and thinking outside the box. It means that the industry has accepted that training is a serious concept that can still be fun and innovative. So next time your client requests that you “gamify” their latest training, don’t feel too overwhelmed. Take a long, honest look at the content with an eye to how you can update it to feel fresh and exciting. Check out some examples online for inspiration, and work with the client to figure out just how far they wish to go. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, and save anything that you don’t wind up using now for future projects.
In case you need more inspiration, here are some other examples to get you started:
*Authors Note: The title is a throwback to my days playing the massively multiplayer online game Everquest, where leveling up in a skill was heralded with the text “You have become better at xxx! (number)”. For example:
Author: Laura Morgan, eLearning Developer