The use of game elements and game design techniques in non-gaming environments. A tool that organizations can leverage to reach their goals; especially those related to learning and development.
Gamifying Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) training has proven to increase user learning, satisfaction, engagement, and performance levels over traditional training methods. This is the case as “gaming” has become ever more present in our society; video games, mobile games, and we even see games being used in corporations. Have you ever been rewarded a token or prize because of recognition at work? Well that’s gamification at work. Providing instant gratification via a reward is an effective way to motivate and engage adult learners.
My experience with gamification and its benefits began in a gamified Spin class, where my exercise metrics were projected on the wall, keeping me accountable and motivating me to be the best one in the class. This experience was eye-opening, as it allowed for me to see first-hand how gamification can motivate and provide benefit. The same gaming principles are just as effective in ERP training. For one of our clients, Harbinger offered prizes to the user’s who practiced the most in their functional area, and what we saw was a significant boost in the amount of time logged by users practicing in the system.
Many benefits can be derived from adding gamification elements to learning programs in corporate environments. As video games grow in popularity, it’s imperative that we as training designers replicate the same experiences seen in video games, such as autonomy, relatedness, and competence that have come to be expected in people’s tasks. The main benefits of gamification in training are as follows:
Increases learner engagement
Makes learning fun and interactive
Provides the learner with real-world application
Enhance the overall learning experience for all types of learner
You might be wondering, how can gamified learning provide such material benefits over traditional learning methods and platforms? The biggest contributing factor to gamifications benefits stem from intrinsic motivation, and people’s natural desires. This intrinsic motivation is derived through the two major characteristics of gamification; competition and rewards. These two motivators help the learner focus and retain the content, as well as, provide incentive for them to learn the content well.
If gamification is so beneficial, why isn’t it applied in more adult learning and corporate training scenarios? The number one reason is cost. The upfront costs in creating a gamified training are high enough to scare many organizations from investing in cutting edge training programs. Although the long-term ROI can be quite attractive, the immediate costs and time for development can render gamified training programs impractical for timelines and budgets.
Gamification is regularly used as a problem-solver for struggling training programs, so learning professionals attempt to “fix” them by applying gamification principles. Often, however, applying gamification principles without a structured approach, can lead to even greater problems such as;
Learners might lose sight on the learning objective when it becomes too focused on the rewards
Mandatory play detracts from the natural intrinsic motivators
Poor content is still poor content, even if it’s gamified
When gamified learning is not designed around content, but rather for gamification sake, the training can teach the wrong objective (i.e. gamification should not be reward based for empathy training)
Overall, I believe gamification brings more positive than negative benefits to adult learning and corporate training programs. By allowing adults to find their intrinsic motivators through gamified training, it enables them to make their own decisions about how, and what they focus their learning on, leading to greater retention and satisfaction with their training. Although there are many considerations and challenges in putting together a gamified training program, I believe the benefits far outweigh the costs and potential downside and suggest gamification should be considered as one of the tactics for any new training program.
Colin Carmona-Murphy Sr. Financial Analyst / Consultant Toronto