Making play everyday by gamifying career development

While an important part of everyone’s career, learning and development often isn’t something that gets people excited. However, AVADO Digital is looking to change that with its digital-first approach to professional learning, which is gamifying learning and development. We spoke to James Elias, global managing director, to find out more.

When talking about the gamification of learning and development, what does that look like in practice?

Gamification takes elements from games, such as fun, play and competition and applies these to a range of real-world processes inside a business, including learning & development.

In practice, this means online courses that include different levels, badges, and leader boards, which all sit on a user-friendly platform alongside videos, interactive activities and quizzes. For example, each activity that a student completes within AVADO’s Dot Native hub earns them a number of ‘minutes’ – or put simply points. The student can visually track the minutes they spend on the platform, moving to different levels depending on how much time they put in and collecting completion badges along the way. Dot Native’s leader boards also allow students to see how their colleagues are progressing and encourage a bit of healthy competition.

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What kind of skills can be learnt through these gamified courses?

The main benefit to gamification is that learners are not only much more likely to complete courses but will also better retain the knowledge they gain. The technique can be built into a variety of courses, from simple knowledge-based modules that teach basic tech skills but can also be a part of more complex skills like digital leadership. For example, courses that span several months may include certain ‘gamified’ elements, like leader boards, to keep participants motivated by competing against their peers to complete the course in good time.

The benefits of gamification can also reach far beyond the initial course content. For example, our Future of HR and Learning hub helps professionals understand cutting-edge developments in HR and L&D in an informal online environment. Each activity in the hub that the student completes earns them a number of degrees, which they can visually track. Once the student has achieved 360 degrees they are then eligible for The Future of HR and Learning Badge, a valuable award that showcases the student’s CPD achievement for the year.

Gamification is the perfect way to highlight progress, and gives the user a true sense of how far they have come

What is the benefit of gamification?

There are many benefits to this type of learning. Firstly, employees are more inspired to do something in their free or assigned time if it is fun or easier to pick up. For example, if you put a passive PowerPoint presentation in front of a group of learners with streams of text and no clear message or action, this will create a far less engaging experience than bitesize, gamified content.

Learning is always a journey, but sometimes it can feel like you are standing still, not moving forward. Gamification is the perfect way to highlight progress, and gives the user a true sense of how far they have come since starting their journey towards achieving a new chunk of knowledge. Using mechanics such as badges, points, levels, and progress boards, learners can monitor and showcase how far they’ve come, as well as compare how they are doing with colleagues.

Read: What can you learn about business from a stand-up comedian?

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For online learning in particular, this also enables employees to work alongside other learners in smaller groups. By working on assignments together, learners can replicate the same support they feel in a face-to-face environment – but online. Working on the same content as part of a wider group helps people maintain momentum through the course, and allows them to benchmark their progress against their peers. When you’re in a group, and supported with the right community forums and management to foster collaboration, this also gives you a shared learning experience that builds your professional and personal networks.

How do individuals respond to this kind of thing? Do they view it as better than traditional courses?

When it comes to online learning, adding gamified elements can make courses much more engaging and powerful, because they play on motivations and desires that exist in all of us. 

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Our recent research revealed that 43 per cent of UK employees would like the option to access courses online make training more useful and exciting in the future, and one in five (18 per cent) would be keen to use virtual reality.

We’ve also had great feedback on our Dot Native platform, which has several gamified elements. For example, Vodafone is currently using the platform to upskill their employees globally, and already we’ve seen over 9000 people complete the course, with a reported confidence increase of 30 per cent in their digital skills.

Is gamification the future of learning and development?

While gamification won’t be the only element we see in online courses to come, it will certainly add another layer of personalisation to people’s learning. The important thing will be to make sure this is included in a useful way, not just bolted on as a gimmick that has no real impact.

Like all areas of our lives, the future of learning will integrate gamified elements and AI tools to create increasingly bespoke and responsive courses. This means we’ll see learning technology personalise the structure of a course - able to intuitively understand how a learner is progressing and adapt the course to fit their pace. This could mean reinforcing certain modules that require more understanding or skipping ahead when learners are picking things up quickly.

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