What’s the benefit of gamification? It acts as a system of extrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivation occurs when the learner is motivated to perform an activity to earn an external reward or to avoid punishment.
By optimizing your gamification strategy, your learners are likely to feel more motivated, and therefore more engaged in the learning process. Here are 5 things for you to consider as you build your strategy.
1. Quality, not quantity
When it comes to gamification, more is not necessarily better. “Greater numbers of gamification mechanics does not necessarily contribute to better learning performance,” says a recent study. For that reason, it’s important to undertake regular testing to identify which elements and working and which aren’t, to design sticky gamified modules that are optimized for your learner base.
2. Managing emotions
Selecting the right kind of gamification strategy is very important. There is a risk of negative reaction to ‘completion-contingent’ rewards, as learners perceive that they are being controlled by the game and its developers. ‘Performance-contingent’ rewards better facilitate learning and motivation since learners are rewarded for competence. According to cognitive evaluation theory, this “negates the controlling effect, thereby positively influencing learners’ motivation”.
3. Clarity and communication
Effective rewards “are expected to facilitate positive game experiences by motivating learners to actively participate in learning tasks to obtain the rewards”. The first step, therefore, is to clearly communicate the rules and objectives. What do you need to do to earn points? How do you interact with the game to learn and grow? Are there real-world rewards, and if so, how do you win them?
Another important aspect of gamified system communication is regarding learners’ performance in the short and long term. By regularly receiving communication and clarity on their position, learners are encouraged to update their goals and gain a sense of achievement.
4. Regular updates
Intrinsic motivation of learners involved in e-learning can fall over time, as compared to that of traditional classroom learners. This is partly because the impact of innovation and novelty reduces with time. That’s why it’s important to keep gamification strategies and rewards new on a regular basis.
Different learners have different reactions to rewards, it’s important to study their reactions and tweak strategies accordingly. Gamification’s impact varies with the learners’ demographics and personalities, as well as variations in the reward strategy itself. It’s therefore advisable to take feedback from your learners on the effectiveness of the gamification mechanism and make regular changes to suit your unique audience.
5. Balancing anxiety and reward
While gamification is a source of extrinsic motivation, it can also cause anxiety in some learners. A study showed that a forfeit-or-prize gamification strategy tends to result in higher levels of anxiety. The most important aspect of reward strategy design is therefore to balance between rewards and learning anxiety. By integrating personalized assistance and providing scaffolding in educational games, you can moderate anxiety.
Gamification is complex, and strategy design is not a one-off exercise. Work with an e-learning expert to create and continually optimize your gamification design strategy. Work with Hornbill FX.