The best way to learn something is by having fun. Albert Einstein thought as much… so how can we disagree? Gaming dynamics are beginning to spread in the field of digital corporate training. This is also demonstrated by the figures from the second edition of exploring eLearning, the national eLearning event on innovation, held on 1 and 2 December 2016, involving 180 companies at the Officine del Volo in Milan. Altogether, 420 HR managers and trainers participated in the event. One of the central topics of the event was Gamification, a method that uses recreational elements, in contexts outside the game, to engage and motivate people. There were 9 sessions devoted to this topic, which registered 392 entries. While the first edition of exploring eLearning, which took place in December 2015, began to cautiously explore the meaning and potential applications of Gamification in corporate training, the most recent edition saw the testimonials present a number of Gamification projects. Comparing the various experiences and discussion participant expectations made us realise that we were only at the very beginning of this journey. Gamification can become a truly extraordinary tool to make training engaging and exciting, capable of encouraging participatory and motivated learning. However… “ending up extinct like the dinosaurs” is easy, to quote ESA’s researcher and physicist Ettore Perozzi, who closed the last session of the two days, urging us to think of far-sighted and effective Gamification paths. There are many difficulties involved in launching a Gamification project and the participants themselves said as much. Here are a few of them:
- finding cases that are truly engaging over the long term
- obtaining internal consensus within the company in order to invest in Gamification projects
- poor participation and corporate culture on the subject
- the fear that the game may distract from work too much
- the risk of it all becoming too trivial.
At the same time, working together during the two days led us to giving meaning, weight and power to this odd-ball term: aside from the conventional definitions, Gamification proved to be entertaining, as well as stimulating the challenge, the desire to give it a try, to escape, to learn. A game can help us achieve a goal and go beyond our limits it makes us feel part of a story, a team: games are exciting. It is a difficult mission, which requires creativity, determination and teamwork. Here are 5 tips to help you get off to a flying start and experiment with gaming paths aimed at learning.
- First of all, ask yourself whether Gamification really could prove useful: does the project have a reinforcing effect or does it detract from the goal?
- Give the gaming experience a sense, starting with the reactions you wish to provoke in the participants: why should they play?
- Use several gaming mechanisms: in addition to rankings and scores, also use storytelling, avatars, missions, competitive mechanisms, graphics and audio gadgets, etc.
- Create a working prototype and test it on a pilot project
- Have the boldness to reorganise, review and question what failed to worked
In a letter to his 11-year-old son, Albert Einstein wrote: […] That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. […] Elisa Cipriani