How to Use Gamification to Create Deeply Engaging Microlearning Content

Let’s admit it. We all love games! 

Playing games makes us happy. It takes us back to our childhood, and gives us a sense of freedom. We automatically jump into action and put our best foot forward when we face a challenge in a game. We are more than willing to use our cognitive abilities, jog our memory, pay attention, use our skills – all to somehow win. 

It’s a fact that playing games improves our problem-solving and fine-motor skills, builds better hand-eye coordination, helps make accurate decisions, and even improves our prosocial skills. Playing games gives an adrenaline rush that excites and engages us.

What is Gamification?

When the concept of games is applied to online learning, it becomes gamification. Gamification uses technology to motivate a learner by using game-design elements in non-game contexts. This helps increase engagement and learning outcomes. The forgetting curve gets contained, memory retrieval gets better, and mastery over the topic is achieved.

Gamification uses game-based mechanics that are aesthetically pleasing, tuning the learner’s brain into a gaming mode, increasing their motivation to act. 

With this mindset, learning becomes as natural as play. This in turn promotes faster learning, higher absorption (memory retention), and quick recall at work.

The result? A learner who performs better, who is adept at solving problems. 

How does this happen? Well, it’s due to structural gamification.

How does Structural Gamification Work?

Structural gamification uses game elements to excite the learner through content design. The trick is to create an interesting game-like structure around your content without changing the content. 

When the content is packaged in the form of a game, it immediately becomes very attractive to the learner. 

For example, instead of merely saying “Yes, that’s correct!” or “Sorry, not quite!” to the learners’ responses in the microlearning quiz, you could award 5 points for every right answer. This way your learner’s brain gets into a gaming-mode – it wants to be challenged and gain points, becomes open to feedback (learn from mistakes), and gets into a competitive mode. 

The learner comes alive as an active sportsperson, and becomes more receptive to correct his or her mistakes, and to learn. For such a learner, getting a question right seems equal to scoring a goal in a game of soccer. Imagine how exciting that would be! 

If the learner correctly answers a certain number of qualifying questions, he might even receive a badge. By combining scores and badges, you can increase your learner’s motivation to take the next training.

Participating and Winning – A Learners Delight

Gamification could be made flexible depending on the number of lessons and the complexity of the topic. 

Your learner need not play the entire game from start to finish. Instead, each learner could participate in activities that are suitable for him/her. 

This adaptive element may be introduced in microlearning to target the areas of opportunity, the learning pace, and preferred learning style of your learner.

Game elements could range from earning points, dealing with a challenge, solving a problem, or even receiving badges for accomplishing a set of tasks. 

Some of the common gaming elements are to showcase individual achievements, engage learners with different levels of difficulty in their learning journey, and leaderboards to drive collaboration amongst peers.

The options for gamification can be quite creative depending on the topic and the learning objectives. Gamification could be used to achieve various behavioral changes. Examples include:

  • Doctors practicing surgery in a simulated environment
  • Civil engineers building a bridge in a sequential stepwise game
  • Project managers planning and achieving project goals in a game with multiple simulated scenarios

We very often see game-based elements integrated into videos or mobile games. Similar elements can be integrated into your microlearning lessons to make them fun!

Real engagement happens when your learner just can’t wait to get back to the gamified content in the training.

How to Use Game Elements

Here is a list of game elements and what they can do.

Elements of Gamification How do they help?
Awarding points Measured extent of correctness.Measures efficiency i.e.doing the right thing.Tracks achievements over time.
Measuring process (bar, gameboard) Tracks achievements over time.Checks improvements and progress towards mastery.
Awarding badges Recognises of knowledge or skill obtained.Recognises of an achievement.
Maintaining a leaderboard Measures performance vis-a-vis others.Measures performance against a benchmark or ownself.Fosters a sense of belonging as a contributing team member.
Personalising using an Avtar Tracks an achievement over time.Upholds and encourages individuality.Recognises an achievement.
Tracking level Measures obtained knowledge and upgraded skills.Describes progression towards learning goals.
Story telling Gives the background , context and purpose.
Aspects socialization Fosters a sense of belonging and upholds contribution.Provides a sense of purpose to efforts.

Your choice of these game elements depends on your microlearning maps, and the behavioral outcomes you seek. 

To conclude, game-based learning helps learners quickly acquire skills or knowledge that are useful in the workplace. Gamification puts the learner’s skills to test in a game format. Using game features helps you create a powerful blend of content, context, and outcomes. 

Participating and winning become motivating factors for learners, especially in a gamified microlearning format. So much so that a learning task turns into a non-task!

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