VIDEO: Extra Credit: Gamifying Education

There are many flaws to ordinary programs that can be easily corrected through gamification. Like in the case of school-work, gamification can help you motivate your students to even perform better in their class work. This wonderful video talks about how teachers (managers) can empower their students (employees) to make decisions for the future. Highlights:

(1)Explains the concept of gamification in a way you’ve never seen before

(2) Gives real life (practical) examples that anyone can easily relate to

(3)Talks about how games can be used to make education more engaging and keep students interested in revising for their work even after class

This fun-filled video is a perfect spring-board to using gamification in ensuring efficiency in day to day life.

How to Setup the Right Employee Gamification Program

Employee gamification has become quite popular as a method of encouraging employees to be more productive, innovative and to improve employee relations among themselves and top management. This is possible through improved communication, which in turn leads to more loyal to a company. By turning work into play to some extent, the office workplace becomes a more relaxed place to work and some of the rigid formal office attitudes are discarded.

If implemented properly employee gamification has been shown to have a remarkable positive effect on worker productivity. On the other hand, poor implementation has had disastrous effects on many organizations. There are several processes that are to be followed if employee gamification is to be effective in an organization. Here are some tips that can help in setting up a working employee gamification program.

1. Set the goals of the program

Before introducing employee gamification to the office, the goals of the organization have to be set out first and most often, the main goal is employee motivation. However, other goals may be to enhance horizontal communication (Communication between employees at the same level in an organization) in order to increase workflow speed during seasons when the workload is heavy. In addition, to enable top management to have contact with those at the very bottom of the organization. Communication is enhanced, relations are built, and the organization works better.

2. Involvement of employees

When introducing any form of employee gamification, the entire team, whether it is a department, division or the entire organization must be informed of it and be involved in the project. Feedback from those to be involved must be taken into consideration so as to determine if the people to be involved are willing to go along with it.

3. Introduction of the program

The program must be introduced in a systematic manner not in a rushed way that will overwhelm the participants and lead to it fizzling out all together. In workplaces where employee gamification has never been tried out, it is usually wise to start with a trial program that involves a small number of persons. If the trial is successful, those who have experience with the project from the trial can teach the rest on how to participate. A trial program also gives you a preview of how the actual program will be like and any potential problems that occur during the trial can be identified and solved before introducing the full program.

4. Choosing a method of gamification

The methods used are usually those geared to enhance worker productivity and increase worker output. In volume-based workplaces like in retail or marketing agencies, the most common method of employee gamification is based on the number of units sold and the methods used to selling to customers depending on how unique they are. These workplaces are those you often hear having ’Employee of The Month ’competitions. Other workplaces use leader boards, levels, or points to reward hard working workers and those who use unique skills to achieve the goals of the organization.

Overall employee gamification when well-implemented enables organizations to achieve certain goals quickly by motivating employees to perform tasks that they might not be motivated to do thus it is something to be tried out in the workplace.

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3 Great Employee Training Games

By: Jason @TStationBlog Silberman

For the past couple years, the idea of gamification to enhance employee training, alleviate tedium and ensure incentive and reception to training, people have unintentionally placed themselves in a position where they pigeonhole gamification into being applied in a specific way. This gives a wrong view of the scope of employee training games.

You see, it leads people to believe they must have a sophisticated LMS in place, and spend days designing complex games to implement it and get anything out of it. While that kind of definition of employee training games is one that fits, there are many games that can be played socially over web chat, or in person. They’re good ice breakers that can help develop core competencies in employees, while engaging them in a way that actually hooks them better.

Traditional classroom activities aren’t going to go over well, so gamification is important today.

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#1 – Old Fashioned Jeopardy

We’ve all watched Jeopardy, and we’ve all played the game of answering the questions ourselves, to see if we can best the people playing. The rules are simple, and easy to implement.

Jeopardy is a good way to drill in terminology and fact retention, while building self confidence in the players, and giving everyone a chance to feel accomplished, and to shot it in front of others. It also incentivizes those doing less successfully to strive to show off how they’ve improved.

This one’s pretty easy to implement, and it doesn’t build problem solving, but since some fact drilling is going to be needed no matter what, it’s a great way to gamify that.

#2 – What Am I?

This one requires a bit more thinking skill and helps to test and reinforce the more intrinsic understanding of material in the students, and help them to cultivate retention not just of facts, but what these facts really mean in the real world.

In this game, instructors pick something, and they give a creative description of it or its purpose, and people compete to best provide an answer to what they are describing.

This one’s fun, especially if you like practical riddles, and I’ve found it works quite well with most people.

#3 – What’s Behind the Box?

This one’s good to build teamwork and abstract thinking skills. Basically, a picture is hidden behind a set of boxes, which are removed one by one. With each removal, the team then looks at what is revealed of the picture, and vote on a guess for what it is. The first team to guess the right thing wins the round.

These games are simple and competitive in a friendly way. Employee training games are a vital way to remove the tedium of training, and engage the students fully. Not only can you encourage thought and eagerness to participate, but you can build strong team and social skills in your people by adapting these to individual and team play rules. There are many other games out there, and it’s easy to find lists of so many activities like these which people will swear by, so don’t hesitate to not stop here, and keep going to see what other games you might like and that your people might have fun working through.

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Guest Post: Motivating Employees to Learn

This is a guest post by Rajat Paharia, founder and Chief Product Officer at Bunchball.  

Motivating Employees to Learn

There are born learners – people who consume your materials with zeal simply because they enjoy learning new things.

Then there’s the other 98 percent of your workforce.

Despite all your efforts to design materials and tutorials compelling enough to keep employees engaged, learning anything new can quickly feel burdensome to already swamped employees now forced to familiarize themselves with your new in-house CRM platform or learn about your company’s latest products, services and positioning.

Employees will tell you they don’t have the time for training. But what they really lack is motivation.

This is what I’ve concluded after years of helping companies cultivate sustained engagement among consumers, employees and partners with the websites, applications, social business networks and learning environments that are crucial to their business.  I’ve also concluded something else: that human motivation is the cold fusion of engagement – an endless source of energy, commitment and enthusiasm.

So how do you harness that engagement engine to transform too-busy employees into committed learners?  For a growing number of companies, the answer is gamification.

Most people know gamification by its visible mechanics, such as badges, points, levels, missions and leaderboards. These are the markers of a gamified environment, but the key is in how the experience encourages specific behaviors.

That’s because well-designed gamification environments stimulate the innate motivators that exist in all of us: the desire to have control, to improve, to make a difference, to progress and achieve, and to connect with others. As it happens, tapping into these drivers is essential not only to creating successful video game experiences, but successful training environments as well.

Companies that use gamification to drive adoption or learning take a similar approach: the gamified experience is designed to motivate specific behaviors that, over time, move users to where you want them to be.

T-Mobile: Motivating with gamification

Consider the experience of T-Mobile, the wireless giant with 45 million U.S. customers. After a major redesign of its T-Community social business environment, T-Mobile gamified the rebooted community. Why? Because T-Community is designed to be the go-to resource for more than 30,000 customer service center and retail store representative. Those employees work in a rapidly evolving environment – the company introduces 30 to 40 new devices a year – and customers expect them to be experts on everything T-Mobile sells. In a market where mobile consumers overwhelmingly base their satisfaction on the quality of the customer service they receive (and especially on the knowledge of service personnel and their ability to resolve issues quickly), the pressure is always on to arrive at the right answer fast.

With T-Community housing the knowledge and resources frontline employees need, learning the new environment is a business imperative.

Using gamification elements that are seamlessly integrated into the T-Community user environment, employees can now earn status and rewards for using T-Community, posting and answering questions, and liking content. Meanwhile, competitive elements enable them to monitor and compare their progress with that of their peers.

Within the first two weeks, more than 15,000 frontline employees had completed an array of Getting Started tutorial missions – far better than historical adoption rates for self-guided tutorials. Within six weeks, user participation in T-Community had increased 1,000 percent. Employees were so active and quick to adopt the new platform that T-Mobile awarded 187,000 achievement badges in the first six weeks.

Best of all, call resolution rates and customer satisfaction scores have been improving each month since implementing gamification.

Clearly, T-Mobile employees are motivated. They’re engaged. And they’re living proof of the motivational power of gamification.

Interested in learning more? Join me for a special webinar, “Making Employee Training Stick,” with Ari Tammam from WalkMe, at 1 p.m. Eastern (10 a.m. Pacific) on Sept. 10. We’ll discuss ways to transform training from dull to memorable, while improving employee performance over the long term.

Rajat Paharia, widely recognized as the father of gamification, is founder and chief product officer of Bunchball. His new book, Loyalty 3.0: How to Revolutionize Customer and Employee Engagement with Big Data and Gamification, is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller.

Some More Reader Feedback on Gamification in Training

I wrote an article a couple of weeks back on gamification, and it sparked a nice discussion in social media. Thought I would share.  It’s a fun little debate about the newness of gamification in training, and to what extent it can be impactful.  Interesting to read reader feedback.

A lot of people mentioned that gamification wasn’t something new, even if the name is.

Jim Hicks from Profession Cube wrote that “Gaming (sorry I cannot use the made up word gamification) is one instructional activity among dozens from which a designer can chose. That’s why it may seem that it’s not being widely adopted if you are unfamiliar with all those techniques. Some folks confuse the technique, activity, strategy or the delivery medium with a “trend” that can be universally applied. Gaming is not appropriate for many learning objectives. And, rewards, challenges, badges, etc. is not appropriate for many adult learning settings..”

Methew Georgiou of brand Metal wrote: “There is some debate on what “gamification” exactly means, but generally, gamification is much broader than just using games for learning. And badges, points, etc. are only a narrow selection of tools that can be used to motivate learners. Gamification really is about discovering extrinsic and intrinsic motivators that can be applied to make learning, marketing, and other non-gaming activities more engaging. Just as games have proven their amazing ability to motivate people to spend money and lots of time on an (often meaningless) activity, this same power can be harnessed in other ways. And, this is not limited to Gen X and Y. It’s about human behavior, which often transcends age and culture. For example, while I have designed bleeding-edge technology tools over the years, I have also designed non-technology game-based learning experiences to train African farmers how to improve their planning and decision-making skills. The designed experience is more important than the media used to deliver the experience..”

Interestingly, Heika Bauer of Johnson Controls writes:

“There could be a differentiation between ” games”, simulations or ” serious games” and the concept if gamification. Gamification is different in that it is about using game-elements (like the concept of rewards, progression, and fun) for non-game purposes. what a gamified approach or system looks like can vary greatly depending on purpose, content and audience. and that’s what makes it so powerful.

Is this new? Again, depending. Whatever gamified systems utilize new technology, it probably is. And at the same time, some of it isn’t. Like the toy or sticker collection that comes with your cereal pack.

What’s important with all gamified training or system is that you reach a sustainable chante in behavior. no matter if that behavior us a change in commnication patterns, more exercise or buying a certain product. the learner or user should – through the gamified routines- develop intrinsic motivation to keep up the desired behavior. not in order to earn points or badges, but because they see real personal value coming from the targeted activity.

If gamification can help reach this sort of intrinsic motivation and will to learn, then it is worth a try. where it doesn’t it’s just another hype.”

Utilizing Gamification in Making Training More Engaging

A strategy that is gaining increasing adoption recently – in training and in many other fields – is gamification. This concept has been broadly applied into several domains already, including websites’ design, and it is expected to change the employee training environment as we know it.

For previous posts on gamification, click here.  

What is gamification?

I will start with a a direct example to showcase you the benefits of gamification: The Go Game. The Go Game is the kind of program, which applied in various situations, fits this category perfectly. There are also many other training programs around the world which apply the principles of gaming into various learning situations. Here is why.

Gamification involves applying game design techniques (the process by which content and the rules of a game are generated in the pre-production stage) in order to solve problems and increase audience engagement in contexts that have nothing to do with games. Suppose a teacher motivates and rewards students with its super playful points and badges (symbolic rewards) for good answers given in class. In the end, they will be able to use the points they accumulated to improve their final grade, to motivate their absences to the seminar, or to choose various bibliography books that the teacher gives as a prize. It’s a simplistic example, but gamification works exactly in this way.

Because it is able to capture your attention

Gamification is a trend that has emerged from the development of technology and gaming industries. Computer games and the increasing popularity of console games have led to the creation of a global market with a value of 95 billion dollars. That’s because the people who are using joysticks now are both children and adults. A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in the U.S. show that more than half of adults play video games, and one in five does this on a daily basis.

The observation that games generate involvement, and even addictiveness, has led to some asking themselves the question: What if I use this passion and dedication to develop or solve some serious cases? What if the time, energy and creativity that the 8 million players of World of Warcraft, for example, would be used to find a solution to the lack of water which drought and poor administration caused in some countries such as Africa?

From another register, but with the same philosophy, how would it be if for the testing of airship pilots we would use simulators and games instead of the traditional tests which involve measuring the attention level and reaction speed? Or what if simulator-based games would be used to educate and train young firefighters to intervene in natural disasters?

Who and what

Of course, the challenge here is not in asking questions, but putting this concept into practice. Many industries have already taken this approach and extended it into the most varied areas. In advertising, special games which are created specifically for the launch of new products are used to connect the customers directly with them. Domino’s Pizza, for example, has created the “Domino’s Pizza Hero” game, an easy-to-use application for PCs, smartphones and tablets in which people can create their own pizza and order it directly from the game.

The European Central Bank also took an initiative of this kind when he created the “Economy” game, in which anyone can play with the monetary policies and observe the results of certain states through trial and error or understand how the inflation occurs. In the context of the global economic recession, such game comes on time.

But perhaps the best known example is Foursquare, the social network which developed services based on people’ geographic location. Every time you “check in” to a new place – in cafes, airports, hotels, or if you are more frantic, even at home – you receive points and badges to boast your popularity in your friends’ list.

The future of gamification for the employee training industry

For now, as explained by the TED speaker Jane McGonigal, the gamification trend is still in an early (but I would add bold) development stage. For instance, in this moment it is tested a transposition of its principles over a social cause, in order to resolve it with the help of gamers. If this works or not remains to be seen. However, gamification still remains a very important element in the employee training industry, one that is able to make the difference between success and failure.

The Main Organizational Learning Perspective of 2013

A couple weeks ago, I had coffee with my colleague, and he raised an interesting point I’d overlooked in my training literature in the past. He pointed out that different groups of companies have a varying organizational learning perspective. So do these perspectives, as a summary zeitgeist of the business world, change over time, like any social philosophy or preconception.

Neither I or the blog have really touched much on this in the past, beyond citing the learning philosophies that were long-upheld before organizational learning or any of the newer theories came into practice. Well, that should change, and I have to thank Todd the next time I have coffee with him, for making me aware of this.

Well, I’ll talk about the organizational learning perspective in its many facets as I get the chance, but I can’t do it all in one post, because it would be a tome. So, let me just start with addressing the most immediate thing of relevance, and that’s the global organizational learning perspective of this year, 2013.

This is to say, what is the general opinion on which methods are effective, appropriate and popular, and what are the characteristics of this current mindset? What has led it to be as it is, and what can we expect to happen in the future, permutating off of things as they are now?

Well, the biggest word in the subject is, as I have demonstrated in my recent backlog of talking on the subject, gamification. The problems of making training (or even daily work) less stressful, less tedious and more of an overall pleasant and constructive process.

It throws a lot of old rules about training out the window, just as the main concept of organizational learning did before it. Where organizational learning threw out the “everyone for themselves” formal classroom or seminar environment, now gamification throws out presentation, grading systems and abstract attitude for all new ones.

Gamification has been a theoretical practice for quite a few years now, but it is just now being taken dead seriously by the business and educational industries, as well as many others. Along with the knowledge management model, which is replacing the less refined earlier organizational models, this combination of new engagement and group centrism which this marriage creates is very powerful and very unlike training or work environments of the past.

What led to this is the very cooperative and collective worldview the internet has given people since it has integrated as a new dimension of complete society in the past decade and a half. Along with this, the ever growing and sweeping prevalence of gamer culture in all walks of life (where once it was a strict singular demographic) has made people realize that life is serious, but it should also be a bit of a game. What is life if not a puzzle to solve in a mysterious world we explore and learn in? What else is a game but this?

Along with this, and more so in the near future, is the integration of the digital into training. Learning software such as WalkMe and other boxed tutorial systems work as teaching aids, self-aware and content-aware, these smart systems integrate with just about anything, and are an amazing aid to the trainers, in measuring and managing the learning process of all trainees.

Along with this great set of metrics and micromanagement power, these systems are proving to aid as a great platform to carry the rules of your tailor-made gamification model, and run it in parallel with your expertly-crafted organizational model.

In the future, we can expect this to remain a core organizational learning perspective. Where now it is just a new philosophy, in the future, all styles and perspectives had by different companies at different times will almost certainly be highly sophisticated and even media-rich variations of this burgeoning concept.

More Thoughts on the Benefits of Games in Company Learning

A couple of weeks back, Bo Amidor wrote about the Benefits of Learning Games in Oranizations, examing gamification techniques and strategies utilized to train and engage employees.

The post got some feedback in social media, so I wanted to share with you some of those responses now, to add a bit of meat to the grill, so to speak.  Here what’s they said.

Lisa Stapleton, Instructional Designer at Briljent: As an instructional designer and trainer, I agree that games definitely break up what can too often be tedious and potentially static training, and I like the idea that we can also use games as a kind of metric to see where learners are in their understanding of the material. One of the biggest benefits I have uncovered in thoughtfully creating games that support learning objectives or key employee responsibilities is that the games reinforce learning, helping learners internalize important information they need to perform their job duties successfully. So, it is another way of moving from potentially static and temporary learning to interactive and internalized behavior that supports key, corporate goals. When we make learning fun, everyone wins.

Dianne Crampton, West Coast Team Development Strategist at TIGERS Success Stories: Games are effective when hooked directly to initiatives. I agree with Lisa that they can reinforce learning.
I do think that game deployment in a training is more than training. It is a facilitation process with a highly structured debrief process that links the experience to on the job performance. Otherwise it is entertainment.

Entertainment probably won’t give you transference and subsequent ROI.

For example, when I was asked to speak to the National Institute of Applied Business Ethics about our model for group development, I invented a game to teach the behaviors to this group in 90 minutes. It was hands-on, high impact and offered high levels of transference. Reports from the meeting planners were rather astounding.

I had no idea where the “game” would go next. It was requested by a large defense contractor to help them engineer their downsize due to the peace dividend in the 90’s. Then this became a case study presented by that defense contractor to OD interests in LA. Then start up companies wanted it for aligning culture and team development to establish cooperative and collaborative enterprises from the get go. Then it has been used for mergers.

A well structured game that engages employees to champion change, for example, should have specific outcomes that deploy the employee’s suggestions for the overall change process. A well structured game should also have 360 impact, which requires leadership commitment to the process.( I realize this comment is more of an OD response than a training response).

Other games that require leadership commitment to deploy include Red-Green and variations of that game with the goal of breaking down silos. I also love to use the Owl, Inc. game for leadership development not as a training but as a facilitation within the leadership development process for high achievers.

Daniel Kos, Management Analyst at New York State Unified Court System: I consider games and simulations to be two pretty different things.I have found that the best uses of games is to explore values and support shifts in attitude. The games themselves frequently lack any meaning in and of themselves; all of the value comes in happens during the debrief and processing.

Benefits of Learning Games in Organizations

Learning games are useful. There’s no arguing that gamification is a powerful new tool which makes leadership happy, and is a godsend to otherwise unengaged, bored, put-upon workforces and learning groups. Where with traditional work or learning, there is a dry, forced nature to it for which the only motivation is fear of unemployment and a desire to make a paycheck, gamification brings a new vigor, a new interest and makes the processes less of a chore for those who cannot avoid them.

Learning games are beneficial because they disguise boring, tedious learning or work with a veneer of engagement through gameplay and escapism. It also adds genuine work ethic via competition both with others and oneself, meaning that work gets done and information gets absorbed. The achievement and completionist urge of modern game players is harnessed as a driving force for learning or even daily work.

So, I’ve said it’s beneficial due to the engagement and motivation it provides, but there’s more to it, surely? Well, yes. Let’s look beyond just the surface of this, and see what other positive effects its introduction can have.

With the motivation provided to achieve rewards and notoriety through the rules of the gamification, not only are people motivated to learn, but this gratification can be carried further. Well, once this directive is imprinted, a higher level of reward can be provided by team accomplishment. This will help to motivate the formation of team work and selflessness for a greater cause.

The benefit of this is that, in any organized learning environment, teamwork is important. If students help one another, and all balance their combined strengths and weaknesses for a solid dynamic, things just simply work better. If all the gears turn in tune, the machine works properly, in other words.

Along with this, if team work is in place, it also offloads some of the logistics of leadership, making everything easier to manage. It allows you to conform your team to the learning models you’ve chosen, and to get better metrics with a sub grouping dynamic introduced by gamification. This means that you have a purer sense of success and failure in your training, and therefore can guide things with far more precision.

Beyond this, the learning games themselves can in fact provide spot on metrics for a variety of things themselves. The statistics of students within the game, and of groups within the game are pure measurements of success and failure in a multitude of topics within the learning dynamic as a whole. So, while it provides a great spoonful of sugar to coat the tedium of learning for the students, it’s also a great measurement tool on top of this.

The rules of gamification are entirely up to you, but with a lot of training situations, the best way to go is to base it on tabletop gaming models, rather than to try to take inspiration directly from video games, unless you have a remarkably flexible digital environment as the slate for learning. This is doable, with onboard tutorial software, but that’s some hardcore gamification right there.

A Few Gamification Examples in Business


Today, I am going to show you some real gamification examples in business. We’ve talked about gamification quite a bit, and I’ve spent a good amount of time lauding how innovative it looks on paper. I cited theoretical scenarios where its many unique strategies can make the training process far smoother and less tedious, and I think most people are in tune with me on this, at this point.

The naysayers have mostly silenced, and the proponents have grown in numbers. It is being used, but we haven’t given you any real world examples of gamification in action, and it is only now that I realize this. Well, that needs to be remedied, I think. So, let’s look at a few gamification examples in business that are being practiced today. These aren’t necessarily training-related, but the principles apply either way.