“A good game is just a series of interesting choices.”
(Sid Meier, creator of “Civilization” and “Railroad Tycoon” video game series)
“No compulsory learning can remain in the soul… in teaching children, train them by a kind of game, and you will be able to see more clearly the natural bent of each.”
(Plato, The Republic, Book VII)
Employers and trainers are frequently encouraged to include “gamification” with their online curriculum. However, there are some misconceptions about what gamification actually is in an elearning context, and how to implement it in order to encourage effective learning outcomes.
What is Gamification in Elearning?
Gamification is a term widely used in the industry that means different things to different organizations.
To some, “gamification” companies are providers of Skinnerian type rewards for completing things. To others gamification means an immersive interactive simulation experience.
In between, we have adaptations of quizzes into familiar games such as crossword puzzles, or jigsaws, or flash cards.
Presenting a Series of Choices is the Key to Effective Curriculum
The best definition of gamification can be found in a quote by Sid Meier, the creator of the highly popular Railway Tycoon and Civilization:
“A good game is a series of interesting choices”.
A series of interesting choices is what makes for the best learning as well. Choices and varied outcomes increase both engagement and retention. Choices also force the learner to think and to process the information they are receiving.
Choices are More Important Than Graphics and Visuals
If the primary focus ought to be on providing learners with choices and opportunities to make decisions, then the next priority for curriculum designers should be about what the consequences of those choices will be.
Graphics, illustrations and the look and feel of the curriculum should be the last thing to be considered.
For example, in the 1980’s and nineties some of the most popular computer games were pure text, and they were very engaging and developed legions of followers. More recently, many of these text-based computer games have been resurrected on mobile devices. Some people have become quite addicted to them.
Gamification Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Providing Learners With Rewards
Gamification doesn’t have to involve gold stars or badges. It can simply involve presenting the learner with a number of choices in order to lead them down a certain path.
The first, and most easy to implement of those lessons, is to provide choices, and opportunities to make a decision. Even if you can only do it with text, or narration, that will create engagement, and using our scenario templates it becomes easy to add rich media and complex consequences to truly “gamify” your online training.
An online course should help the learner to become engaged by building on their natural desire to explore, to understand new things and master them.
Take a Short Course and Learn How to Add Gamification to Your Online Curriculum
This short Quick Tips online course provides some useful suggestions about how to add gamification to your elearning: Quick Tips: Gamification.
Questions About Online Learning? Contact Udutu for Answers!
Udutu’s free course authoring software lends itself to teams who must collaborate to create training, or to groups who are scattered and to Subject Matter Experts who don’t have the time or inclination to become technologists.
As always, if you have any questions about course authoring and creating effective elearning content, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Udutu.