Gamification of Training & Learning Experiences

Old Wine in New Bottle? If it tastes great, who cares?


Are you one of those who are looking for the answers to these questions? If you are, you’ve reached the right place, for this simple article is written to unveil the nature of these relationships.

Gamification of Learning? So What's New?

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Gamification of training - coffeebeans cartoon.

“So gamification is about adding rewards and awards, giving out points and badges for reaching milestones. Haven’t we been doing it for decades? What’s new then? Just a name?!”

So bellow the critics. I too confess to have bellowed at least once, but upon deeper reflection I realize that when a term is formalized, it makes it respectable - and when a discipline is formed around it, its implementation becomes easier.

Instructional design illustrates this beautifully.

  • Isn’t it common sense to “design” a “learning experience” in a way that it addresses an audience's learning preferences and needs?
  • Isn’t it common sense to gain the attention of your learners before you begin drumming the content into their heads?
  • Isn’t it common sense to make your audience practice the skills they learned?

Our moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grams and gramps, they all had enough common sense to do all the above; and we did too – much before we had heard the first whispers of ID. So some critics should proclaim that there’s no logical reason for this discipline to exist (and they do so with a panache that amazes me.) But the discipline of ID does exist– and it performs a very important role. It provides effective learning design frameworks that help the learning professionals ensure that the learning experiences they craft are designed for maximum impact.

Gamify your Workshops for Maximum impact.

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A conscious acceptance of the prowess of gamification gears up our content and training for maximum impact. It tells all of us, including those who weren’t using emotional triggers in our trainings, that if we used a set of gaming elements in our trainings and elearning content, we’d be make them more impactful. Because there are many among us, whose classes put their learners to sleep. In my classroom programs, about half the participants are trainers – and most have never used any emotion-triggering device (training games or stories,) in their programs. They've been churning out trainings after trainings, without getting an opportunity to improve or enhance them and even when their hearts break watching their audience doze off, they can't do a lot to change things.

If at all, their organizations decided to gamify their training programs, everyone would be happier. The audience would be more engaged and hence learn better; the trainer would be a lot more motivated and a motivated trainer can energize her entire audience; and the organizations would be better off as effective trainings would save them money by improving productivity, enhancing creativity, and reducing errors.

And all because those soporific training programs were transformed into fun-zones. It's a win-win-win situation, folks.

Why Gamification garners Frowns from Some?

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One of the reasons behind the smirks and frowns could be the “seriousness” we automatically attach to learning.

Way back in 2002, I had committed the near fatal error of marking an email about one of our online learning games to a professor of Indian origin who taught in an American University. He replied. My heart burgeoning with hope, I clicked the message open. Inside I found a long-winded discourse on how young Indians (I happened to be young then – just in case that set you wondering,) should find something better to do with their time than creating games! I wonder if the same professor today is gamifying his classes – and for the sake of his students, I hope he is!

So “learning is serious business; don’t play with it,” mentality is something that often hinders our ability to see gamification as something that could change the face of learning. Instead of driving learners away from the classrooms, it could bring them in; instead of participants dropping out of online programs, they might not want to leave them – wouldn’t that be great?

Gamification - Old wine in new bottle?


Yes, gamification is a new term for an old concept but it brings us a new framework made of old and tested gaming elements – and so I don’t care if it’s old wine or new – I’ll partake of it because it’s wholesome and presented to me in a whole new look!

But then, is there a real need for it?
There is - an in the next article of this series, we'll clearly establish the need for gamification.

- Author: Shafali R. Anand


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