Gamification, as a concept, can be perceived as a simple application of reward and point system. Targeting external rewards creates a cognitive dilemma for the learners and, eventually, becomes uninteresting and loses the power to incite intrinsic motivation necessary for learning. Thus, it’s integral that gamification is customized and tailor-made to suit the user. Game-based training is an effective implementation of gamification.
So, how does one go about implementing gamification in a meaningful and effective way?
It is vital that we target learners’ internal motivation for longer-lasting interest rather than stimulate external motivation systems like points that are superficial, and can become boring easily. Kumar (2013) states all game-based training techniques can be classified into 3 categories: elements of behavior, progression, and feedback. Within the category of behavior, game-based training elements focus on human behavior and increasing intrinsic motivation. The category of progression, game-based training focuses on structuring the accumulation to promote meaningful learning and feedback, encompasses all the tools to guide and correct the learning experience.
Elements of Behavior:
- Open-type problems: Challenging but interesting for learners as there are multiple paths to a solution. Game-based training enhance interest and activate learners’ critical thinking skills and creativeness.
- Assessment Framework: Move away from a static score or grade for assessment. Such a framework stresses and hinders learning. Frame goals as work plans, or “players” or simulate a career path for them to follow and use it to enhance engagement and improve learning.
- Freedom of Choice: The self-determination theory states that greater control one has over his/her actions, the greater reinforcement for self-motivation for participation. (Deci et. al, 2009). Allow learners to explore content according to their own rules.
- Imagination: Transform mundane content by creating a vivid and compelling narrative around it, once again pushing intrinsic motivation to keep participating.
- Emotion: Emotional memories are better remembered. Engage learners’ sense of anxiety, curiosity, fear, and enthusiasm to help retain the information.
- Act on Challenges: Emphasize challenging or action-filled periods to increase excitement.
- Research & Discover: Let learners discover new abilities in an unexpected manner, through the learning process. This boosts confidence and increases the likelihood of the learner to challenge themselves to utilize new skills.
- Multiple Roles: First, the learner occupies a managerial role, as they manage their own learning. Second, within the learning process, one can undertake roles of a mentor, supporter or coordinator of an entire project. This allows the learner to develop into his own skillset and recognize the limits within which he learns and operates.
- Team Cooperation: Teamwork contributes to positive learning experiences as it makes it a sociable experience. Observing peers engage in an activity validates the process as learners observe the multiplication of represented viewpoints.
- Interaction: Create avenues for interaction, between learners, between instructors and learners and a combination. Working in teams enables feedback, confidence and some social motivation.
- Pleasure: Ultimately, we all love games, they are inherently enjoyable. The player-centered framework allows learners to determine their outcomes, learning needs, goals, and interests.
Elements of Progression:
- Difficulty: Challenges in game-based training should be progressive, it has been proved to raise intrinsic motivation. Learners are in a position to tackle progressively difficult challenges as it provides intermediary cognitive skills and cognitive abilities
- Development/Progress: Visual representation of the progress within the whole learning simulation is essential. It must be detailed enough to identify progress in thinking, learning and creating to instigate self-reflection and metacognitive objectives on the learner’s part.
Elements of Feedback:
- Time limits: Introduce time limits to increase excitement, convey the importance of maintaining deadlines and rearrange learning development to accomplish the activity within the time allotted.
- Feedback: Failure is to be expected and embraced with immediate feedback from the instructor/platform. Questions, clarifications, and discourse is encouraged
- Reward: Unexpected surprise to boost engagement. Motivator to move to a higher difficulty. Reward after completion of a series of challenges or even for participation in Game-based training but keep it relevant to gameplay and/or the learning experience.
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