Level Up Your Learning: The Power of
Gamification in Training Programs

Recently, I observed the delivery of an instructor-led program our company had developed for a client. I often observe our pilot deliveries to learn what went well, what didn’t, and where we might need to tweak the program to better achieve the desired learning outcomes.

I was sitting at the back of the room when the producer brought a leaderboard to the classroom screen. The room came alive! A buzz filled the room as people discussed who had moved up, who had been replaced at the top, and most importantly – “how can I improve my standing?”

The buzz told me that we had made the right decision to gamify this program by introducing a friendly competition.

The term ‘gamification’ was first coined by Nick Pelling, a computer programmer, who used the term in 2002 to describe the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in problem solving. Within the field of learning, gamification has been a hot topic for the last decade and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Why?

Because it works. According to FinancesOnline.com, 80% of US workers believe that game-based learning is more engaging and 60% of companies see an increase in employee engagement as a result of gamified training features. Higher engagement, which measures the level of interest that a learner has in a course, means more effective training. Increased engagement isn’t the only benefit though – here are some additional benefits you can expect when gamification is introduced into training programs:

  1. Improved retention: By creating an emotional connection between the content and the learner, their attention level is increased, making them more receptive to learning. As a result, they find it easier to retain the content for longer.
  2. Increased motivation: Adult learners are motivated to learn when they see how it can be applied in the context of their daily life. Gamification, when done well, can create a link to real-world application of the learning content, increasing that motivation.
  3. Flexibility in delivery: Many cohort-based programs today need to be flexible to meet the needs of both in-person and live-virtual delivery. The right approach to gamification can create experiences that work well in both, making them easy to adapt to your desired delivery approach.
  4. Personalized learning: When gamification is applied in self-paced learning, it’s possible to tailor the experience to meet the learners needs. For example, you may use a system that allows a learner to accumulate points as they respond to quiz questions. A lower number of points earned in a specific area of content may indicate that more attention is required in that area, allowing the course to redirect the learner to that content to view it from a different perspective.

The program I was observing was a cohort-based program that provided points for correctly answering questions related to content that had been covered earlier in the session. The questions, and the related feedback, helped to reinforce key messages in that content which resulted in a double win. The participants paid close attention during the session so they could correctly answer the questions later…and through reinforcement, the content was more likely to be retained.

At Smartfirm, we are always looking for ways to incorporate a level of gamification into a course. Whether it is a simple achievement system where content is unlocked as you successfully progress through a self-paced course to a full-blown competition through a leaderboard as described in our cohort learning example, we can help you increase engagement with your learners. Reach out to us to learn how we can help you!

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