Thoughts on gamification and learning

By William Seidman Gamification is a hot idea right now in training and learning.  Gamification is the conversion of specific learning exercises to a structure borrowed from video games. Players score points and advance through levels. The money required to design and build these games is considerable. The assumption behind gamification is that people are motivated by playing games and earning points, and in the process will actually learn something. As I wrote previously, gamification’s effectiveness as a learning tool is very much in doubt. Players learn the game,  but inevitably find ways to win the game without learning. Recently I reviewed a gamified learning program where the game developers had really thought through every issue and had a reasonable solution for every problem. It was a game designed to teach critical product knowledge. The game used a point system and people enjoyed playing the game. There was some evidence of learning, but the game has not been widely adopted because of lack of management support. My questions were: 1. Why did the organization have to go to such lengths to try to motivate sales people to learn something that is critical to their jobs? 2. Shouldn’t they be actively seeking out this knowledge? Instead, the learning organization has to spend time and money to create a learning program to morivate people to learn something that they should be trying to learn themselves. Management needs to directly support learning by creating environments where people learn and grow. What happened to the notion of the learning organization? Organizations that rely on a training department, instead of the individuals and the management team, to be the primary owners of growth and development are likely to get into real trouble.]]>

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