Gamification in Authentic Learning Experiences
gamification

Get your head in the game when it comes to L&D

Humans learn by sensing, thinking, and doing. These three stages are reflected in the building blocks of the brain: sensory neurons, interneurons, and motor neurons. Integrating elements of games with educational stimuli fits with the sensing-thinking-doing functionality of the nervous system and the natural needs of the brain, which are: 

  • To survive
  • To feel good
  • To play
  • To be rewarded
  • To save energy

Using gamification tactics in learning meets these needs by making the brain feel in control, stimulated by fun and rewards, and addressing the need to save energy by having a congruent story. But a common misconception is that successful gamification requires actually creating a game—which doesn’t work in many business contexts. We’re going to take a look at why gamification works and how it can be applied to authentic, simulated learning environments.

Which is better for business: gamification or game-based learning? 

A quick clarification on gamification vs game-based learning (GBL)

Gamification is the integration of game elements (such as point systems, leaderboards, badges, or other elements related to games) into non-game activities to increase engagement and motivation.

Game-based learning involves designing learning activities that include game characteristics and game principles within the learning activities themselves.

As you can see from these two definitions, there’s a lot of crossover between gamification and game-based learning. Gamification allows learning designers to take advantage of the benefits of game elements without the need to turn the learning itself into a game. 

In the business environment, we’ve found that games are especially good for team building and in many eLearning contexts, but they fall short when building skills. Although game-based learning can be great fun, tying the game back to the business requires an extra step and is not always immediately obvious to participants. At Blueline, we don’t use games to teach (i.e. game-based learning). We use the engaging characteristics of games to help motivate and engage our learners through realistic simulations of real-world work environments (i.e. gamification).

When it comes to work-relevant learning, gamification provides the same incredible benefits while immersing learners in real-world dilemmas. Where appropriate, gamification can be used in learning experiences to bring the dynamics of engagement, competition, and fun to learning—while presenting challenges in real-world contexts and enabling learners to acquire and practice new skills as they would on the job. Gamified learning can be serious and business-appropriate because it doesn’t require the artificial constructs (e.g. a fictional world and characters, made-up storylines, etc.) needed to create a true game.

How does gamification enhance learning objectives?

Although it is becoming increasingly sophisticated and digitalized, gamification in the realm of corporate L&D is nothing new. And for good reason. Not only do game elements meet the brain’s inherent needs, but they also increase cognitive activity by firing up different areas of the brain:

  • The visual brain: evidence supports the attentional benefits resulting from the use of gamification tactics
  • The motivated brain: winning and receiving positive feedback stimulates the reward center of the brain
  • The creative brain: creativity is stimulated by simulations, symbolic thinking, visualization, mentalizing, and curiosity
  • The social brain: cooperation and competition evoke different reactions in the brain
  • The emotional brain: games are emotionally engaging and help us remember events better
  • The cognitive brain: gamification helps with the application of knowledge, and there’s also a positive relationship between adrenaline and memory

From a neuroscientific perspective, the benefits of gamification depend on the design of the learning experience and the individual’s unique neural responses to educational stimuli. According to Jan L. Plass, Paulette Goddard Chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences and Professor at New York University: “Good games aim for the ‘sweet spot’, where players can succeed but only with some struggle.” 

The combination of success with a side of struggle is an inherently engaging experience. And in the field of learning, engagement translates to retention; retention translates into application; and application translates into results. If you want to drive results, you need to focus on learner engagement. Gamifying learning is a surefire way to engage learners.

Here’s how gamification brings extraordinary levels of engagement to learning

Research shows that play is a potent force in learning contexts in all spheres of life. The freedom to experiment and the joy of experience are not merely techniques to enhance the learning process—they are the learning process.

Another element of gamification comes in the form of collaborative competition, which harnesses natural group competitiveness. When it comes to immersive learning experiences, working with a team and competing against other teams takes engagement and commitment to a whole new level. It isn’t about being cutthroat, but about furthering learners’ investment in the overall outcome.

Common to most gamification techniques is the ability to access immediate and constant assessment of where one stands in the learning process. Gamification offers a number of ways this can be accomplished, such as badges, leaderboards, and other point-based mechanisms. When feedback comes from a publicly visible leaderboard, it is both engaging and motivating to the learners. As an analogy, consider your level of effort working out at home in front of a video, and then going to a class at the gym and doing the same workout with a group of people. Being in an environment with other people naturally raises the stakes, even when they’re all equal participants in a shared activity. Now turn it into a competition—say you could see who is pedaling fastest out of a group of people in a spin class. Wouldn’t you push yourself even harder to beat the other people in the room? That’s the power of a live leaderboard, and it translates extremely well from athletics to many other activities.

These elements can all be included in a complex simulation that still maintains verisimilitude with the work environment. While game-based learning is a form of escapism that takes learners out of the workplace, gamified simulations keep learners immersed in their very real daily challenges while still providing an engaging and fail-safe environment for practicing new skills.

Blueline is no stranger to the learning game

We have been perfecting the use of gamification techniques to increase learner engagement for the past two decades. Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDER™ digital design platform synthesizes the most powerful of these gamification elements in one tool. The synchronous, customized simulations designed and delivered through ExperienceBUILDER incorporate teamwork, live leaderboards, peer challenges, real-world application, and feedback mechanisms to leverage the benefits of gamification; the most important of which are learner engagement, knowledge retention, and concept application. 

At Blueline Simulations, we combine the elements of play, competition, and feedback to enrich our designs and support learners in achieving better outcomes—but no one is playing around here. We have perfected the use of immersion techniques like simulation, gamification, and storytelling to design synchronous, team-driven discovery learning that drives business transformation. We are also breaking new ground with hybrid learning designs that are just as effective as live classroom experiences. Get in touch with the Blueline Simulations team if your organization is ready for this next chapter.

Recent Posts on the Blueline Blog

· Areas of Expertise

4 tips for onboarding cohorts in the hybrid workplace

The current talent shortage has made it more important than ever to find—and retain—good talent. Hiring top talent is a critical aspect of building a productive team, and a new hire’s onboarding experience can determine whether they succeed in the new role, or even stay with the company. In fact, a negative onboarding experience results in new hires being two times more likely to look for new opportunities. 

bluelinesims

engaging employees, ExperienceBUILDER, hybrid work, Onboarding, team-driven, team-driven learning

· Areas of Expertise

The top 5 leadership skills to develop in your people

In the post-pandemic context, developing leadership skills has become more crucial than ever. On-site interactions are becoming less frequent, employees’ mental health and well-being have come to the fore, these, combined with the talent shortage mean employers and leaders must do everything they can to create a supportive environment. Here are the five most important leadership skills.

bluelinesims

adaptability, Communications, Empathy, Leadership, Leadership Development, leadership skills, self-awareness, teamwork

· Areas of Expertise

How to improve onboarding with Zoom

In the hybrid working world, companies are turning to technology, such as Zoom, to onboard new remote employees. We know that employee onboarding is essential to retaining new hires, prioritizing employee satisfaction, and maintaining a productive office environment, but the question is: how can an onboarding program be delivered effectively over Zoom and other remote engagement tools?

David Milliken

custom learning solutions, ExperienceBUILDER, immersive learning, immersive training, Onboarding, onboarding solutions, remote employees, team-based simulations, zoom

· Areas of Expertise

The 4 secrets behind successful onboarding  

The Great resignation, and widespread adoption of hybrid and remote work has added further complexity, as employers are challenged to engage and motivate their employees without the guarantee of physical proximity. Winning employers have realized they need to step up their game to attract and retain top talent, which is one reason there’s never been a better time to focus on strategic onboarding.

bluelinesims

culture focus, Engagement, ExperienceBUILDER, hybrid learning, hybrid work, Onboarding

· Simulations

How to make the most of cohort-based learning  

Whether virtual, in-person, or hybrid, modern work is all about teams. Businesses today require collaborative work that often spans time zones, hemispheres, and organizational levels. The complex, team-centric nature of work is reflected in learning and development trends, leading to the growing adoption of cohort-based learning and team-based learning models. Forbes has claimed cohort-based learning is transforming education.

bluelinesims

Cohort-based learning, collaboration, ExperienceBUILDER, Simulations, team-based simulations

Tel. 813.269.7467 Ext. 212 | 218 E. Bearss Ave. | Suite 419 | Tampa, FL 33613
All rights reserved. Explore Blueline Simulations | Privacy Policy