Gamification: (noun) The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity.
If you're trying to make your training sessions a bit more fun and interactive, gamification may be something you have considered, but perhaps weren't sure how to use it effectively. Gamification is a very popular technique in training and education right now, but if you've not used it before, you may be a bit worried about introducing it into your training sessions.
Like any training technique, it's important to know how to use it, as well as what you are trying to achieve in the long run, before you just jump in and start using it. We'll take a look at some simple ways you can bring gamification into your training and make sure you achieve effective results.
Make a Plan
You may want to use gamification in your next training session because you think it sounds cool, or you just want to try something different, but you really need to decide if it's something worth doing before you just jump in. Firstly, you need to think about what you're aiming for, and what you want the outcomes of your training sessions to be, and then see how you can make gamification work to achieve this, rather than trying to fit your training outcomes around the technique you've decided to use.
This may mean that you won't find a way to work gamification into all the aspects of your training, but it should make it very clear where it is going to work the best, so you can make full use of it there. It may be better to use it once really well anyway, rather than trying to slot it into every training session you run. Training techniques like gamification are fun for your students, but if they are used too much, they may lose their appeal.
It may also be a good idea to test out any gamification ideas you have on a smaller group, to see how effective they are, before you move to trying them out in the classroom. This will give you the chance to tweak and change things before you get your students to have a go, meaning your class will get the best version of your idea, and hopefully be able to use gamification in the best way possible.
Try Simple Rewards
One really simple way to bring gamification into your training sessions is to start a simple rewards system for you students, which should encourage a bit of healthy competition. This could be something like giving a prize to the people who score the top on a quiz or the group who present the best presentation in class.
This is a very simple technique, as the teacher doesn't have to do much additional work after they have put the system in place. You don't even have to provide a big prize, as something small and fun, such as a large bar of chocolate or even a certificate of achievement will still give your students something to compete over. It's more about the competition with each other, and the fun of winning in the end, rather than the prize, so don't feel like you have to get something expensive.
Track the Work
Another good way of making a game out of training is to track your students' work. As with the example above, the students will be working towards a prize at the end of it all, but tracking their work can make the game element a bit more long term.
Instead of just completing one task, this could be a mixture of things, such as handing in work on time, achieving above a certain grade, or completing the required reading. You can then track all these elements on a chart, which your students are able to see, to see who will win the prize at the end of the set time period, which can be a week, month, or even the whole semester.
If your students have to complete some eLearning, you could also use this method to encourage people to complete a number of activities, such as doing certain quizzes or watching videos in their spare time. The added element of a chart tracking the class's progress means the other students can see how well everyone else is doing, and this may encourage them to give their work an extra push in order to try and win.
Tracking the work of your students on a chart is one method, but if you want to add a little something extra to it, why not try using a points system to make things a bit more competitive. Things that they should be completing in their day-to-day training, such as homework, could be worth 1 point, whereas extracurricular activities, such as additional reading they might do at home, or conducting additional research into topics you've been studying, could be worth 3 points.
Using points like this instead of just treating all activities as the same should encourage your students to try and do the more challenging or additional activities in order to gain more points than just the bare minimum would give them. It also lets you see which of your students are really putting in the extra effort in your classes, and which students are just doing what they need to in order to get by. This can give you the chance to address any worries you may have with students who perhaps aren't putting in as much effort as you would like to see.
Again, it's a good idea to keep track of the points on a chart that all your students can see, so it will spur them along to try and keep their high score up, or do some extra work in order to gain more points and beat their classmates.
As we said at the start of this post, it's important to make sure gamification is going to work with the sort of training you want to provide. Methods like those mentioned above may work well for some subjects, but wouldn't be appropriate for others, so really think before you decide to bring in another element to your teaching.
As with anything, gamification may get boring if you use it all the time. If people are constantly completing in every class you teach, they may decide not to bother once the novelty wears off, and it won't be worth doing, so make sure you use it only when you feel you really need to and you feel it will be most effective.
It's also important to make sure that people are actually completing all the work you set them to the best of their abilities, and not just rushing through it all in order to gain points and win a prize at the end. Making sure your students get a full education is the most important thing, rather than trying a fun training technique, so always bear that in mind.