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How to Enhance Online Learning with Games


The culture of learning and development within most organisations has changed dramatically.

Although online learning programmes are now recognised by the majority of corporate businesses as a great way to train busy and mobile staff, there has traditionally been more resistance to using stand-alone games.

Why is this?

The reasons relate to a number of challenges, including but not excluding:

• It is generally considered more complex to create engaging games with a valuable learning benefit than it is to create online training programmes
• Unless the games are off the shelf, then it can be fairly expensive to develop customised games which sit well with learning objectives
• Not everyone likes gaming and, for some, even the best games would have them questioning whether it’s a good use of their time. This resistance and lack of buy-in certainly risks reducing the learning benefit
• When games are used for ‘serious’ learning than getting the learning methods wrong can result in people finding the experience patronising or boring

Using Games in Learning

When corporate learning games are well designed then they can certainly be effective as stand-alone solutions.

However, without the necessary budget or skills to develop in-house games of the standard necessary to provide a stand-alone positive learning experience, then this becomes far more of a challenge.

An option to confront this is to avoid producing stand-alone games and instead mix an element of gaming into the online training experience. This blended approach can be incredibly effective and enhance learning greatly. From our perspective, gamification doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Most good online training programmes use an element of gaming to help increase learner engagement and to diversify the learning path.

Online training can be incredibly dry if it’s limited to slides and voice-over or video. However, creating the content in such a way that it tells a story and allows the learner to explore different themes while presenting them with relevant challenges and quizzes, presents an element of game playing which, in a way, provides the ‘middle road’.

Learners who are put off by games are essentially playing them but in a subtle way and learners who enjoy the gaming challenge and, who are less motivated by slides and voice-over alone, are given the opportunity to test their skills and challenge themselves.

Adding scores into the equation can further add to the experience.

This approach essentially caters for most learning styles.

By including challenges, quizzes or case studies the learner is required to think more deeply about the learning matter at hand. The learner is required to take meaningful action and think about how situations might apply to them.

Essentially, the online training approach has, at this point, moved from passive learning to engaged learning.

Adding this suggested soft level of games to the online training experience is not too difficult to accomplish. Most learning management systems include interfaces or add ons which allow the user to easily create them.

Not only does this remove the need for a developer's skills, but it also simultaneously reduces the budget.

Essentially the person developing the course should not be put off by the added technicalities of this process. By exploring the LMS system and its add ons in detail, the user will quickly gain the skills needed to manage this process effectively.

With the culture of training and the expectations of learners changing, it’s essential that the skills of L&D staff do too. Increasingly, L&D staff who are skilled in diversifying the learning path through gaming technology will certainly be more in demand than contemporaries without these skills.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

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