THE BENEFITS OF TURNING YOUR LEARNING INTO A GAME
Learning can be tedious, especially if the information presented exceeds a certain amount or is complex and difficult to grasp just by reading, listening or filling in worksheets. Learning is an activity that needs to be done by the learner and teachers and teaching tools can only assist this voluntary process happening within the learner. New approaches to learning seek new forms and media to tackle this problem. But the most important aspect when it comes to learning is intrinsic motivation to stay on the topic and display enough grit to work through the material in a comprehensive and deepened way.
That is why e-Learning seems to be such an appropriate way, because it is easily available and can offer a wide variety of sources and material. Additionally, if you gamify this e-Learning approach by offering level systems, intermittent rewards, score keeping and leaderboards, you add to the level of comparability and create additional aspects for motivation. But as mentioned in an earlier article, gamification is not for everyone. If you focus too much on competition or don’t make the e-Learning tool interesting enough through other means like presentation you risk still being too dull or intimidating.
If you have a look at the potential of creating motivation, games are the most successful medium of our times. The Games Industry is continually growing worldwide and games enter all different areas of communication and education. All games are learning, it is just a question of what the game makes you do and which context it is set in. Serious Games and Educational Games are on the rise and more and more companies aim to bring this potential to their corporate training and professional development programs.
On the one end, you have successful games and companies like Microsoft and Minecraft or Ubisoft and the Assassin’s Creed franchise that are utilized for learning, on the other you have games exclusively built for learning or professional development and corporate training that are used by major global companies. These games are highly effective when it comes to motivation and retention of the material. But they are aimed at learning at school or are expensive to develop so that these all-in-one solutions won’t be available for smaller companies.
So, a third way seems appropriate to enhance learning, motivation and retention. Combining existing e-Learning solutions with tried and tested game mechanics is a promising way. The benefits of e-Learning applications have been mentioned before, combine them with engaging aspects of gaming and you get the result intended, a comprehensive application that engages learners to stay on the topic and create opportunities to experiment, reflect and develop a deeper understanding because it is fun and motivating to do so.
The benefits of using games in learning are manifold. Games tell stories and engage in an interesting plot. They let you try and experiment and making mistakes is part of the learning process. Games…
- are a fun and motivating way to tackle a topic
- are interactive, so you take on an active role in your learning
- invite you to take risks without external consequences and you can try completely different approaches
- create a feeling of agency
- create situated meaning, everything you learn is set in a context
- invite you to explore, think laterally and rethink your goals
- enable and promote the interaction of cross-functional teams and they
- put performance before competence, so that you are able to create your own learning path and focus on the aspects and actions that matter to you personally
Imagine the following, you are taking part in a program to work on your personal and social skills, to develop character and reflect your identity (21st Century Skills like communication, cooperation and creativity are based on these personal traits). Why not make this a game of role playing in which you actually create a character and go through a storyline that matters to you personally together with teammates and create an experience that supports the coherence of the team and helps you reflect on who you are and who you intend to be. You could say, if you play a game like this for learning about yourself, you start your own Hero’s Journey that offers deep insights into your personality and at the same time are immersed in a compelling and relevant story. That is actually what games often do. If you consider the benefits of game based learning mentioned above, using a game like this for learning and corporate training offers exciting opportunities while at the same time creating a setting that is fun and free of real-life negative consequences.
Games can and will change the way we learn radically. Playing is our natural way of learning and at the same time can be the highest form of research. If we know, how to apply it to learning and training settings we can achieve a quantum leap in motivating learners and effectively conveying the content of what we seek to teach and learn no matter how hard this might seem in the first place.