Gamification in e-learning

Over the past year or two the using of the word "gamification", to the point or not, has increased significantly. Just for fun, we even have checked how many times it was found in the Yandex queries. In February 2015 people typed the word "gamification" (in different versions) into a search engine about 2000 times. Today (April 2017) that number comes to 4700 requests per month. In social networking strips over and over again there are messages about courses, webinars, books, articles on the topic.

The understanding of what the gamification is differs. When it comes to a specific practical application, for example, the gamification in e-learning, some people understand by that an interesting story, some just system of points, etc.

In this article, we will share our understanding of the following issues: how to make the e-learning course passage more interesting; how useful may the gamification be in it; what we rely upon, when we offer our customers this or that decision. 

What is the gamification?

In the book "Gamification in business" by Gabe Zichermann, a leading expert of engagement strategies design between the companies’ employees and customers, the founder and CEO of Gamification Co, the gamification is the introduction of gaming techniques and mechanisms into business (the word "business" can be replaced by "training/e-learning", etc.).

In the field of e-learning, we should separate the concept of the «game» and «game course».

The game itself consists entirely of gameplay and mechanics. Even if it is an educational game, the user mostly uses his existing knowledge and gets minimum of theoretical tips.

The game "VSP Simulation", that we have developed, can serve as a good example of such games. The player's task is to effectively manage a Sberbank branch, i.e. to work with individuals, hire employees, motivate and develop them, manage their schedules, avoid queues, keep customers happy, etc. This is the application and honing the player’s existing knowledge. In this case, a person spends playing 100 % of the time.

Another thing is a playing course. Its main goal is classification and acquiring new knowledge. The forefront here is the learning. Only a small part is borrowed from the games, just some of the game mechanics. In this case, most of the time — 80-90 % — a person spends studying the material, training, testing and verification of his knowledge. And only the rest of the time he can spend on viewing of his achievements, ratings, the joy of getting new points, familiarization with the plot and so on.

For these reasons, several statements from the book "Gamification in business" seem to us to be a little bit exaggerated. For example: "Instead of training isolation and turning it into an autonomous activity not related to work, gamification offers a completely new method: learning as a continuous rest".

Learning is not easy and cannot be a game in the full sense of the word. The Philosophical encyclopedic dictionary gives the following definition of the word “game”: "The game is unproductive activity that is not undertaken for practical purposes but is for entertainment and fun, bringing joy in itself. The game is different from both, labour and from purely instinctive action."

In case of gaming courses in e-learning, the game mechanics only add the motivation and engagement. But that's good!