Over the years, the learning industry has been working on various options to find answers to two core questions: "Just how does one make learning more effective?" and "What is the best way to keep learners engaged and motivated with the content?"
For over a decade now the single universal response to these questions has been to bring in the "game" element to learning. The success factors have been to create compelling challenges, well-defined tasks and rules, achievable goals and rewards, and accelerated feedback. The aim has been to narrow down the concepts that can capture (and retain) attention, challenge, engage, entertain, and of course, teach.
All research and studies support this notion: in its first avatar as "game-based learning," where content is visualized in the form of games, and next with the concept of "gamification," where elements of gaming experience are overlaid on the learning content.
The latter is deemed more popular and successful as elements like progress through levels, score, contextual feedback, progress bars, etc. scored higher engagement value with learners than features like avatars, virtual rewards, and being a part of a story. This is truly the game changer. It is, moreover, the highly recommended approach for retention of knowledge.
Today, the key question is, will the current approach to gamification actually take learning to the next level? To where it is expected to play a major role in enhancing learning, and predicted to be a $10 billion industry by 2020 (from its present size of $2 billion)?
Probably not, unless it is able to evolve unceasingly as an ever agile system—orin other words, become data-driven to reach the goal.
Gamification is not a mere solution to the problem, but a tremendous opportunity to allow learning to take the next big leap. It has the potential to redefine the questions stated at the beginning.
The key here is to lay out a matrix of the three dominions at the outset—the dominions of content, technique, and purpose. Content may range from a multi-choice quiz to a role-play in an Asgardian fantasy (being meaningful and relatable are probably the dominant parameters here), built around gamification techniques such as badges, levels, leaderboards, rewards, challenges, and avatars.
These two aspects are interrelated with a purpose, or a set of purposes, such as improving engagement, motivation, goal-orientation, retention, teamwork, and team building.
Well-marked content seamlessly connected to purpose and expressed through gamification techniques is premier learning material. Herein is a huge opportunity to exponentially grow the value of this content by using the data derived from its usage.
Here one can safely assume that techniques used in gamification set it apart from other learning products in terms of configuring data points, as it enforces content construction in blocks of micro-content and stitched through a logical progression.
From a product point of view, the derived data would offer tremendous insights on the effectiveness of the content. For example, what is working—and what is not—from an aggregated analysis of learner performance.
And for learners, who could get an almost immersive learning experience, it would reveal the basic level of analysis of learning accuracy, as an individual and in a group, to an advanced knowledge of how the learning took place, or did not.
In addition, a crucial layer of conclusions can be obtained from behavioral traits and patterns that can originate from learner interactions and retention trends.
So, the script is ready. The screenplay is in the making. Are we all set to take the game to the next level?