5 ways to improve engagement and increase retention

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In recent years, gamification has been an emerging trend in learning. Is it fair to say that it has finally arrived? Well, almost.

The basics: what is gamification?

Even those familiar with gamification often define it differently. At the basic level, gamification involves applying game-like elements (scoring, competing with others, and game rules) to other activities. Although we are concerned about the gamification of learning, it is also used in areas such as marketing. Gamification guru Yu-kai Chou
octalys frame is a good starting point for those looking to better understand gamification and the different techniques available.

Enter the game

A lot of research shows that gamification works:
90% of employees say gamification makes them more productive at work, and
80% of American workers believe game-based learning is more engaging. AT
near-lifewe’ve seen first-hand how learners in fields as disparate as healthcare, law enforcement, banking, and retail have benefited from gamification.

Whether using standard filmed content, 360 degree videos or interactive animations made with a tool such as Vyondwe particularly focused on how to maximize interactivity to deliver gaming experience.

You can create gamification using simple techniques, such as creating time pressure around interactive decision-making, or explore more complex ideas, such as quests or the “hero’s journey”, to build engagement . For example, interactive videos and animations can easily be put together to create branching scenarios that provide an adventure gaming experience no different from the popular Choose Your Own Adventure book series.

These five actionable tips can get you started on your gamification journey:

1. Consider your audience. It may seem obvious, but sometimes we forget that not everyone responds to the same type of approach. An interactive learning game for kids about handwashing should be very different from the scenario-based interactive video games we have created to support the World Health Organization Emergency Medical Teams Program. People respond to learning by doing – experiential learning – and they retain information through techniques such as immersive training and virtual reality (VR), but not all playstyles will suit all public.

2. Link gamification to learning goals. Make sure the game-based approach maximizes the value of your learning objectives. Reflecting on your efforts is more than just putting together a few slides. If it’s a game to support customer service and you’re associating points with achievements, make sure the scoring architecture supports the behaviors you want to promote. Or if the training is about making decisions under pressure, incorporate features like time limits. But don’t let the structure become so cumbersome that it becomes a barrier to that increased engagement, even enjoyment, that is essential to effective learning design.

3. Track and measure behavior. Put numbers on how learners interact with your content. When you deliver content passively through videos or slides, you collect much less information about your users. If you use techniques like scoring, you have a ready-made way to measure performance. At Near-Life, we also find that tools like xAPI are a great way to get a much richer picture of engagement with games and learning simulations.

4. Personalize comments based on interactions. If you are able to track how a user interacts, you can also provide personalized feedback directly related to the interactions a learner has made. In some of the user projects we’ve supported at Near-Life, content designers are able to set up detailed behavioral pathways, where the choices learners make receive contextualized feedback. It can be a powerful tool for any learning professional to ensure that digital learning is tailored to the individual and supports two-way engagement.

5. Use interactive video in your gamification projects. You don’t need to design, code and build a complex game from scratch to get started with gamification. Video is a simple solution that doesn’t have to be expensive: tools like VyondPowerPoint or Cloth can form the basis of your interactive games. For example, we used Vyond to support playful learning with mini-quest style games. It’s an add-on to our own authoring product, but with a bit of creativity you can use any e-learning authoring tool to apply basic gamification to video. Done right, interactive video combined with gamification can save time and money, while delivering better results and a more engaged workforce.

So there you have it: five things to think about when looking to get started with gamification for learning. Once you embrace gamification, you will see that the scope of the topic is vast. It opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities around engagement, and getting started is easier than you might think.

You want to know more? Check out this handy guide on what near-life is all about and how it can support your plans. And feel free to join our discussion group on gamification and learning on LinkedIn.

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