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Elements of LMS Gamification

Amber Rasmussen August, 2017
Elements of LMS Gamification

The workplace has changed dramatically throughout the years and no other generation like the Millennials have changed the landscape in such a profound way. Those born in the 1980s and 1990s are now firmly established in the workforce and they grew up with computers, gaming and social media. So, it’s no surprise that they demand these tools to be available in the workplace.

Gamification became well-known in 2010 and hit critical mass in 2015. So, what exactly is gamification and what are some of the features and benefits it provides? We’ll discuss these questions in this blog along with tips on show to utilize gamification in SharePoint.

What is gamification?

A white paper from True Office forecasts that gamification will grow by 67 percent from 2013 to 2019. At this rate, we should all know exactly what gamification is and how it can potentially change the way we train.

In its simplest form, businesses are attempting to use game-like incentives to motivate employees, improve training and build stronger teams. Gamification involves incorporating gaming elements, such as leaderboards, rewards and badges, into everyday situations.

Wikipedia explains it this way: Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. Gamification commonly employs game design elements which are used in non-game contexts to improve user engagement, organizational productivity, flow, learning, crowdsourcing, employee recruitment and evaluation, ease of use, usefulness of systems, physical exercise, traffic violations, voter apathy, and more. Gamification can also improve an individual's ability to comprehend digital content and understand a certain area of study such as music.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of how companies have utilized gamification in the workplace.

  • Cleaning fun

Company A was having a difficult time with sales forecasts because of disorganization and ‘messy’ pipelines. To combat this they implemented a two-week contest to streamline them, rewarding points for updating opportunities, updating close dates, logging prospect phone calls and logging prospect meetings.

The contest was responsible for generating the same amount of sales activities in two weeks as had been created in the prior 7 ½ months.  

  • Lifesaver

A health organization needed to train their staff on CPR. They used a simulator as part of their gamification process that used interactivity and live-action film to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Gamification features: Game-based and experiential design, timed decision-making activities, strong storyboarding and scripting, real time game-style progress stats and points, formative feedback at each decision level.

  • Virtual reality house

A plumbing company needed to train their workers in a realistic situation before going out into the field. Gamification allowed trainees, such as plumbers, to practice their skills in a fully immersive virtual reality simulation. This provides a safe environment to learn and build confidence before entering the profession in the real world.

Gamification features: full simulation virtual reality environment (scenario-based approach makes the training very realistic), learn by “doing” (step-by-step training process – planning, costing, and installation), gaming style hand-held console/nunchuck is available that works wirelessly with the online system to improve the virtual experience.

Elements of Gamification

There are many elements of gamification that you can incorporate into your training. Here are the top ways:

Leaderboards

Leaderboards are one of the most competitive gamification elements, as they encourage corporate learners to surpass their peers in order to achieve “first place” status. It’s the ideal game mechanic for those who want to be publicly recognized or praised, which makes it more extrinsic than intrinsic when it comes to motivation.

Points
Points are earned by completing tasks or participating in voluntary online training activities. Once learners have collected a certain amount of points they can trade them in for a reward or unlock new course levels.

Certificates and/or badges
Certificates and badges are more tangible rewards. Corporate learners must reach their goals or show their expertise in order to receive a certificate. When more “minor” milestones are reahed, they can receive a badge to track their progress.

Certificates are ideal for compliance online training courses, such as online safety training. If necessary, the certificates can have an expiration date, at which time a corporate learner must renew their certificate by retaking the online training course.

Collectibles

Whether it’s baseball cards or in-course items, humans tend to enjoy collecting things. Corporate learners can work toward complete their course collection. This same rule applies to trading. If another corporate learner has an item they are missing from their collection, they must communicate with them in order to strike a deal. This process makes your online training experiences more social and interactive.

Course Currency

Who doesn’t like money? You can use this to your advantage by creating a course currency that corporate learners must amass throughout their online training. They can use this currency to unlock online training content, access helpful tips, or even purchase tangible rewards. Be sure that you create a set of guidelines and stress the fact that the currency doesn’t hold any monetary value.

Virtual raffle tickets

Give corporate learners the opportunity to earn tickets during the online training program, then hold a raffle at the end where they can win prizes. This particular game mechanic can be tricky, since corporate learners aren’t participating simply for the sake of learning—they are in it to win, as they say, and earning rewards is their primary goal. This is why it’s always a good idea to pair it with another game mechanic that is more intrinsic.

Keys and/or rarities

This is a gamification element taken straight from video and PC games. Corporate learners must complete an online training task or module to earn a key. That key will unlock the next level or they are required to save up a certain number of keys to unlock a reward. If you want to take it a step further you can even create keys that will grant access to “hidden” content, treasure chests, or doors that lead to supplemental online training resources, like fun games or puzzles.

SharePoint gamification features and how to incorporate them into training

While gamification has great potential, analysts like Gartner agree that is it not considered a ‘must have’ feature for training. It can require a large investment to replace existing learning systems and create customized solutions.

There are alternatives to dip your toe into the gamification world. This market is still evolving, so it’s tough to find ready-made solutions that address all your needs. The alternative is to ask your LMS provider to customize a solution or to create one in-house, both of which may be too costly for companies that have limited IT budgets and infrastructure.

There are still small-scale gamification initiatives, using SharePoint for instance, that you can launch in the meantime to improve productivity and morale.

By nature, SharePoint does not have a full feature gamification system. But, since it is highly used for training needs, it makes sense to utilize a few fun features.

Crowdsourcing has become popular in the training space. It essentially is where employees can ask questions to a broad group of people for their input, expertise and opinions and is a great way to access the collective knowledge of a group.

SharePoint has a fun gamification feature in badges.

SharePoint communities are a great tool to cultivate discussions in an organization. It provides opportunities for people to share their expertise and seek help from others who have knowledge in specific areas of expertise.

A great example is in the onboarding process. New employees often times have questions and having a discussion area available to them is invaluable. Community sites also contain a history of all posts and replies to make it easy for the learner to find the answer to a question.

Community sites also offer gamification by encouraging and rewarding members for participation. The more they participate the more reputation points they earn for posting, replying, and receiving likes and best answers.

Another great feature is badges. An employee can be given a badge for their profile that says “new hire buddy” or “peer mentor” to identify them as someone whom a new employee can go to for answers to their questions.

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