Think back to your teachers from your childhood. How many of them do you remember and why? Chances are that the teachers you remember favourably are the ones who made learning fun.
Fun is the most understated and misunderstood element of learning. Sometimes, trainers do not give enough importance to fun because they expect that their learners (especially corporate clients) come into a training session with complete focus and a deep desire to learn. While that would be a dream scenario, it often doesn’t occur. There is always a mix of enthusiastic, hesitant, and uninterested learners in any group session.
As a trainer, it behooves you to do the best you can for every learner, even if they start uninterested. Making your sessions fun using gamification techniques and principles can convert uninterested attendees into engaged learners.
Gamification can be defined as a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements. Some elements of gamification include points, badges, leaderboards, and storytelling.
The reason gamification helps a learner have fun is because it helps them understand their value of the session and measure their own progress, as well as give them a challenge and allow them to go on a journey.
Gamification creates or leverages a system in which a learner can measure their progress. That measurement creates understanding, commitment and motivation.
Think of losing weight. Suppose you simply tried to lose weight by eating right and exercising, but didn’t measure your progress. Chances are you won’t see early progress and will quickly run out of motivation because you don’t see any changes happening.
But if you got yourself a weighing scale or a body fat measurement caliper, you could start charting your progress on a weekly or even daily basis. Seeing some movement (whether positive or negative) shows you that your actions have a result, and will help you understand your work makes a difference.
Similarly in a training session, a learner cannot measure their progress if they don’t have a system. As the facilitator, you can give your learners that system by using points, badges, leaderboards and other tools of gamification.
Journeys and Storytelling
While stories don’t help learners numerically measure progress, they serve a much greater purpose. A learner may or may not go home to her family and tell them that she scored 12000 points in the session. But she is more likely to say that she struggled at the start and ended up winning the competition.
People care about numbers, but they care about great experiences even more. They care about interesting things or events and the emotions attached to them. They care about going on a journey from one level of understanding to another.
We often use the cliché that you should take your learners on a journey. Journeys are a string of events that allow people to feel strong emotions. By experiencing a strong emotion in the course of a journey, a person can feel alive and excited.
A story is nothing but a journey in written or spoken form. Stories allow people to share their journeys with others, and help them feel the same strong emotions. This is why we love films, music, books, and other art – because they allow us to feel.
Gamification is a tool that a trainer can use to help a learner measure, track, and understand the journey they go on and create a story about it. Such a powerful tool is important for any trainer to have.
We urge you to think about how you can help your learners measure their learnings and tell a story. We will show you exactly how to do that in future blog posts. Until then, stay tuned!