Gamification in eLearning is a topic that keeps popping up with unfailing regularity. Everyone seems to be incorporating some elements of gaming in their courses but no one seems to have the perfect idea or rather very few providers have managed to create truly immersive game-based learning content. One truly needs to break the stereotypes that we have begun to associate with game-based learning! The usual ones are:
- A drag and drop or ‘match the following elements’ clone
- A race-like sequence where learner answers questions and progresses
- Arcade-like sequencing involving animated icons.
Why Gamification in eLearning Matters?
- It holds the interest of the learners.
- Improves retention of learning
- Definitely works as a stress-buster
- As learners are actively involved, higher success rates
- Effective reinforcement of learning
- Beats the boredom out of looking at presentations
Quite often one loses focus on what exactly one is trying to achieve when building game-based learning modules. The key challenge that course designers have to meet is to introduce games at the right juncture within a course. Plus, what exactly are you testing? The learning outcome prescribed for the course module or the ability of the learner to move a character quickly across the screen?
Games should not end up being a distractor or just a place-holder within the learners’ journey in the course. It is crucial that whatever learning outcome is envisaged at the outset of the course is achieved by the learner and the game built into the course is a logical step forward for the learner to achieve the pre-defined goals.
So how does one strike the right balance?
There is no fixed formula or direct approach that can be universally applied for every eLearning course out there. The target audience, the goals defined by the course, the budget that dictates time and effort are all essential factors. These are not just for the game-components but for the entire course as well.
Some key aspects to make the game-component fun and interesting:
- Easy-to-use instructions
- Right blend of text and audio instructions
- Age-appropriate game-board design and characters
- Sequential flow and learning outcome focused game
- Stress-buster and learning enhancing design
We are going to definitely see Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence play a key-role in games that will feature in eLearning courses in the not-too distant future and this is definitely going to be an interesting case-study when the first mass-market AI or VR-enabled game-based eLearning modules arrive!
What do you think are essential factors that add value to games in an eLearning course? Or do you feel games should not find a place in eLearning courses? Share your thoughts and ideas in the ‘Comments’ section.