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Gamification and learning:Two Truths & a Lie

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Employee engagement and participation in learning and development programs has always been a challenge. With the rapid development and deployment of new tools and technology in the workplace, though, there's more to be learned and mastered than ever. Leaders are now looking for methods to tackle this issue head-on, and driving demand for changes in learning managemen. Enter gamification.

 The use of game mechanics in non-game environments to improve user experience and participation is rapidly gaining interest as a solution for improving learning management. We're told it can fundamentally change an organization's learning and development processes, but many still aren't sure how--and have questions around what gamification really is.

 The Truth About Gamification

Let me be clear: Gamification is not about turning work into a game, or making work fun. As Andrzej Marczewski of Capgemini explains, employees won't be sitting at their desks, "with Call of Duty-like games on their screens, shooting at reports and running around 3D spreadsheets." At its core, gamification is a tool for motivating your people to show up and perform to the best of their ability.

 Gamifying a process takes basic elements of gaming (e.g. levelling-up, progress bars), brings them to a non-game environment (like an elearning module) to enhance user experience and motivate employees to take a more active role in the work. But it takes more than badges to effectivey gamify a process.

 "Gamification isn't about turning the office into a circus," says Molly Kittle, VP of Digital Strategy at Bunchball. "You're taking things that are fundamental to motivation, which have been proven to work, and applying them in a very non-game way."

 Why Gamification Thrives in Learning Management

Though application of this strategy is still in its infancy, there is undoubtedly an opportunity for gamification to make a stagnant learning management program more dynamic and training

Learning and development for many organizations is dry at best. And, as Kittle points out, "Leaders are intrigued by gamification because it allows you to tie learning to things that aren't stale," like business objectives and performance goals.

 Newsflash: The workforce is getting younger and more demanding. Employees have come to expect a deeper level of interaction in the workplace. It's important to understand what gets your employees going, and that's the greatest opportunity gamification has to improve learning management.


About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is the HR Analyst at Software Advice-an online resource for talent and learning management software selection. He's written numerous software buyers guides, and reports on trends and best practices in HR technology on his blog.

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