Guide to Gamified Learning
01 | What is Gamified Learning?
02 | What to expect from a gamified learning solution for awareness training
03 | How to choose a gamified learning solution
04| How can Click Armor help you?
What is Gamified Learning?
Gamified Learning” is NOT just about “fun and games”. It is a form of skills-oriented gamification, and a serious tool that provides benefits over many others in a business environment. “Gamification” is really an approach for “designing a process to have psychological drivers that create a motivation for people to behave in a desired way”.
Gamified learning is an engaging form of training (as a recognizable category of business processes) that uses various psychological drivers to efficiently educate individuals on terminology, concepts and the application of those concepts. It can be used to motivate employees or individuals within a group that has common objectives, and is particularly well-suited to subject areas where the students have some lack of appreciation, or even a dislike for the subject. While some managers may argue that it shouldn’t matter whether employees “enjoy” their training or not, the reality is that they will not engage in learning as deeply, and will not remember much of the learning, if they view it as a negative experience.
For example, employees often refer to boring compliance training programs as “Death by PowerPoint”…or they may be heard saying things like… “If I have to sit through another video of the guy who lets a stranger through the security doors, I’m going to gnaw my own arm off…”
Training that focuses on short term memorization of facts or rules is like cramming for an exam. It doesn’t last long. The ability to simulate real-world situations in a game-like situation provides an opportunity to build not only understanding, but proficiency, in areas where it can be extremely difficult or expensive to use “on-the-job” training.
Examples of subject areas where gamified learning can be extremely effective include:
- Cyber security awareness
- Risk management
- Diversity and inclusion
- Values and ethics
- Health and safety
- And many other topics.
In cyber security awareness, there is a critical need to have all employees ready to defend against the latest cyber attacks, such as phishing and social engineering. Many employees don’t feel that it is their job to deal with these risks. However, it is commonly recognized in the information security industry that “security is now everybody’s job”.
So, the organization’s goal is not only to convince employees that their job does depend on them developing these skills, but also to help them gain proficiency in them, in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible. Once they gain appreciation for the concepts and have some level of confidence in applying them, it is much easier to hold employees accountable for this responsibility.
Gamified learning is the key to getting all individuals to that state of confidence and proficiency, regardless of the topic area.
What to expect from a gamified learning solution for awareness training
Most people dislike, if not hate, traditional awareness or compliance training. Recently, more awareness solutions are recognizing that “engagement” is key. So, there are fun videos or quizzes, which may even be gamified. However, there is one common theme that can be seen in employee attitudes toward traditional training programs: “People want to get them over with and get back to work.” So they don’t commit what they have learned to long term memory because they never get reinforcement of the concepts, and who can blame them for not wanting to go through it again?
With gamified learning, the experience is designed to be positive, to the point where employees seek to repeat at least some of the activities, for one or more reasons. They may want to improve on their score to date, or they may want to compete against others on a leaderboard. It’s also likely that, having built confidence in their basic ability, they simply want to become more proficient. Gamified learning helps employees better understand the need for training, and progressive learning motivates them to master a well-understood skill.
Not only will a gamified learning solution tend to drive better individual performance, the result has a direct impact on corporate culture. It is not uncommon to hear employees positively discussing their challenges and results with other colleagues. This is in stark contrast to the use of “live phishing simulations”, where employees are increasingly feeling like they are being unfairly targeted, and have begun to distrust their IT or Security team (and even make public statements about their anger about the situation on social media sites – ahem… just Google the Chicago Tribune phishing assessment story).
How to choose a gamified learning solution
A gamified learning solution is more than just a collection of games that you hope will drive engagement and proficiency. You should expect a solution to be focused more on outcomes than on coverage of a wide range of topics. Being able to get employees to stop clicking on dangerous links or to stop falling for scams is becoming one of the top priorities for risk managers today.
Investing in a good solution for reducing your primary risks using gamified learning will pay off. Here are some critical elements of gamified learning that you should be looking for in a solution.
A highly interactive, visual and dynamic user experience will engage individuals from the beginning. They need a reason to “keep playing”, and the first impression is important. But every lesson should have engaging elements to sustain the momentum, and motivate individuals to continue.
A flexible architecture that allows for easy and cost-effective tailoring and injection of gamified learning content. Every organization is different, with different terminology, workflows, policies and risks. So, the closer you can match definitions and concepts to your organization’s environment, the more effective the training will be.
Skill development process
A methodology for learning that builds incrementally on skills gained from learning challenges, through exercises and simulations. Employees don’t respond well to being tested when they don’t feel they have the skills yet.
There must be an easy way for people who may not respond well to gamification, or who consider themselves as “non-gamers”, to get through the training as quickly as possible, without regard for scores or leaderboards. Some individuals will have the attitude of, “If I got all of the answers correct, I want to stop.” If you force them to “keep playing”, you will lose their support for the program. But you will likely find that even some people who don’t consider themselves gamers at first often come to appreciate the many benefits of gamified learning for themselves, and even end up near the top of the leaderboard anyway.
Having a way for employees to obtain immediate, relevant feedback when they make a mistake is critical. Employees find it very hard to adjust their behavior when the only indication of their proficiency is from a quiz score at the end of a module. How will they remember which question they got wrong, and why?
Having simulations that represent real-world risks that they might face in the next week, or in 3 months, is one of the most important benefits of gamified learning. Even having faced a threat just once in a realistic training scenario can make it very valuable. But in a gamified learning environment, it is likely that employees will repeat the scenarios they got wrong multiple times, strengthening their proficiency, which is the ultimate goal.
Proficiency metrics and reporting
Being able to measure progress and proficiency is essential to knowing if a program is really achieving its goals. An administrative capability for reporting on detailed results and trends is valuable for verifying the skill levels of individuals and groups, in addition to their participation.
User names and avatars
People buy into the environment very quickly when they have a chance to choose their own identities. This lets employees remain anonymous on the leaderboard, if they want to. And they can have some fun with their names or avatars, which makes the experience more enjoyable.
Receiving recognition for completion of small challenges is one of the strongest drivers in gamification. You should have ways to provide extrinsic (but not necessarily monetary) rewards within the learning environment, to give people encouragement and confidence in their skills as discrete achievements. Certainly, if rewards of monetary value are available, this can drive behavior as well, but it is relatively uncommon that organizations are actually allowed to provide valuable rewards for training achievements.
Being able to group employees, either for deployment of specific training modules, or for reporting on participation and proficiency, makes managing a gamified learning program very straightforward. You may have a group called “New Employees”, who always need to go through “Acceptable Use” training first, to get them up to speed. Or you may have special content for different groups, depending on their exposure to different types of risks.
How can Click Armor help you?
Click Armor’s Active Awareness platform was designed with gamified learning as its core. From the visual and interactive user experience, to its integrated leaderboard and administrative reporting, an entire learning program can be hosted in this environment.
Click Armor has a comprehensive series of off-the-shelf, gamified modules for the Active Awareness™ platform that can be tailored to your needs right now. These modules are very cost-effective, as they can be deployed immediately or tailored to your business environment and policies.
We also offer customization services to help you design and deploy your own content in the most effective way to meet your unique needs. For example, you may want to have a customized, gamified learning course that includes content that you have been delivering through “lunch and learns” (or Death by PowerPoint).
Contact Click Armor now to get started with your own gamified learning program.