Our recent Raytheon Learning Symposiums in London & Frankfurt provided many best practices and take-aways from organisations such as SAP. The topic of gamification in learning, and why L&D practitioners should not hesitate to include it as part of their learning blend, was a compelling one.
Don’t be scared of ‘Gamification’
In her presentation to delegates, Emma Barrow, Senior Manager Learning Solutions at Yorkshire Building Society, revealed that the worst thing L&D heads can be is scared of the word gamification. She argued that because it understands the psychology of how people learn, gamification actually “makes hard things fun.” She myth-busted some of the popular stereotypes around gamification, including saying that it is possible to do it incrementally; and that learning managers don’t have to be experts. But in saying all this, she issued a warning – that unless L&D heads stop worrying about gamification, the opportunity it presents them with could actually pass them by. “We have a duty as learning professionals to promote it.”
Gamified learning could include elements of:
- Scores/leader boards
- Jeopardy (situations or questions)
- Badges that can be earned
- Feedback, involving storytelling
Emma’s advice to companies was simply to go for it – even that they should drop the G-word entirely if it gets in the way of people’s understanding. But one has to remember that the key standard any gamified learning must reach is the right level of user experience and the right narrative – which can still be achieved on limited budgets. Without both of these elements, she told delegates, learning chiefs would not get far.
“The key standard any gamified learning must reach is the right level of user experience and the right narrative – which can still be achieved on limited budgets.”
Emma Barrow, Senior Manager Learning, Solutions at Yorkshire Building Society
What will work, are gamified eco-systems that truly provide a learning context, including one that focuses on the learning narrative. “You’ve got to get people to want to do the learning, without them feeling forced into doing it, so intrinsic motivation is a powerful motivator to capture with good design.”
Engage through Gamification
Emma told delegates she didn’t want to be at the same symposium in two years’ time and hear people still hadn’t tried gamification. And it was on the same issue of L&D heads needing to realise its potential that Isa Sammet, Education Lead for Gamification & Internet of Things at SAP, also addressed the Frankfurt delegates.
Isa concentrated on the advantages of games-based learning – how it makes learning fun, and be part of a team – mainly because it is built with only positive feedback (rather than failure) in mind. She also revealed that during gamified learning, people’s brains are much more engaged, meaning they learn (and remember) much more. “People won’t learn a lot in situations where they’re in a classroom for five days. In fact, it’s estimated they’ll only remember 10%, and in four weeks’ time, only 10% of this 10%!”
At SAP, Isa praised gamification for allowing staff to learn in teams, and 24/7 – time convenient to them. She revealed SAP tends to have lots of ‘explorers’ in her organisation, so its learning is built around finding information. But she also revealed that her journey hasn’t always been the easiest in terms of managers accepting gamification. “I was convinced of it, but I’ve had to convince others since. There are people who don’t like gamification at all, and there are full time trainers who say, no, this is not the right way to go. But the advice given is don’t be shy. Be innovative.”
“People won’t learn a lot in situations where they’re in a classroom for five days. In fact, it’s estimated they’ll only remember 10%, and in four weeks time, only 10% of this 10%!”
Isa Sammet, Education Lead for Gamification & Internet of Things at SAP