When people are interested in learning, they learn. Creatively gaining and maintaining learners’ interest in learning content is the primary opportunity opened up by eLearning.
Gamification, or the presentation of material through learning games, is one of the most exciting technologies in eLearning. Learning games are a feature of eLearning that engage learners through creative themes such as mystery, exploration, points, scorecards, and leaderboards. Games can range from simple word puzzles or a knowledge check to fully developed video games.
A growing body of academic and organizational research supports the value and effectiveness of learning games in engaging learners, animating the learning process with interactivity and play. Learning games are rooted in constructivism, one of the leading fields in educational theory, which views learners as the creators of their own unique knowledge.
Game-based learning fosters a deep learning experience by infusing knowledge acquisition with emotion and subjective experience. This type of learning provides a safe environment for students to fail and experiment, which enhances comprehension, and learners are motivated by rewards systems and competitive elements. Learning games are shown to improve the speed of cognitive development and skills acquisition, especially when incorporated into complex process-based learning.
Learning games have become increasingly popular, especially in the corporate context, and the gamification market is expected to grow by over $17 billion USD in the next 3 years (Technavio).
There are as many ways to gamify eLearning content as there are to play. The creative opportunity created by incorporating learning games into eLearning material is to balance learning and fun.
Common approaches to this balance include adding quizzes and assignments into games. Learning games also often allow participants to compete against each other, which, for many, drives motivation and engagement. Competitive elements foster interactivity between learners, which is an asset in the virtual learning environment.
Learning games are particularly useful in scenario-based training, in which the learner becomes a character who is challenged to make decisions at key points. Story-based games are both fun and useful, and their use is growing within learning and development departments across industries.
Game Types and Applications
To save costs, many businesses invest in out-of-the-box solutions, or ready-made games, to train their employees. Larger companies invest in serious game development, often through an external eLearning agency.
The most innovative learning and development departments at large companies invest in either external eLearning agencies or in high-tech gamified authoring tools.
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