Corporate America today utilizes online learning and computer-based courses for employee training with great regularity. It is flexible and fast, giving employees the knowledge they need quickly, with no classrooms or conflicting schedules. One way that eLearning engages people to the greatest degree is through gamifying the courses. Gamification uses digital games to make learning more engaging and fun for students of all ages. For employees, this type of eLearning is more engaging because it allows competition among peers and offers incentives for completing tasks, like badges or virtual currency that can be exchanged for rewards. Gaming is now a widely accepted process for learning and discovery at all ages – including children, secondary education, and with business professionals.
Playing a game that helps reinforce how to close a business deal, or learn the specifics about products or services that you are charged with selling to your clients is a fun and interesting way to go about the process, especially when there are rewards for getting it right. This certainly seems more interesting than listening to a long and boring lecture online. However, there are pros and cons to gamifying eLearning as well, and the challenge is to use gamification effectively and relate it well to the purpose for which it is used.
Here are some basic pros and cons to consider before you decide if game-playing is the right learning platform for your business and your employees:
- Game-playing helps develop positive mental attitudes toward learning dry subjects.
- Portability is great; employees can often play on their desktop, laptop, or portable devices.
- Alleviation of boredom and tediousness in mastering subject matter is a plus.
- Gamification can help employees focus on the material and absorb more of the information.
- Role-playing games can guide employees to advanced academic understanding.
- eLearning increases the ability to learn independently.
- Gaming-based learning shifts the focus to the process rather than the outcome or goal of the course.
- Games that help confront fears and anger have been shown to be a safe alternative for releasing emotions.
- Games like online chess make students slow down, concentrate, and think moves ahead – definitely good skills for employees to master.
- Music and movement augment the learning experience in a positive way.
- Game mechanics can teach critical thinking and interpretation skills that are crucial to learning.
- Replayability gives people permission to fail, which encourages exploration and discovery.
- eLearning has to be monitored to be successful; it is important to classify what is learned from the games played.
- There is still research that needs to be done to figure out how and why gamification works and why it is effective.
- Extrinsic rewards can lose their value over time, and actually lessen the motivation of players.
- Some games do not use the experience to properly motivate people to really learn and be engaged.
- Game-playing can result in a lack of strategic connection. The challenge is keeping it relevant to the tasks at hand.
Overall, game-playing can make eLearning more fun and entertaining for employees and is a good way to invest time and money for training. One of the biggest challenges will be to ensure that gaming is not over-used, because that can be a negative factor; careful monitoring can alleviate this problem. Often, information that is learned via classroom lectures is quickly forgotten; gamification can serve as a long-term platform to help them remember the processes or patterns that you desire and that will allow them to be more successful in their roles. Online gaming is growing rapidly and programming technology is increasing rapidly. Combined with the utilization of portable platforms like smartphones and tablets, the time for utilizing gamification to enhance business knowledge and education is now.