Gamification in Learning Software is the Means, not the End

Currently rampant throughout the online learning software industry are efforts to reward users with points, trophies, and virtual achievements for various activities. Spurred on by the effects of our social media-driven world, these virtual “Atta-boys!” are being used to pull users into software time and time again, but is the point being lost? What good is having the gold star for completing your company’s training software program if you didn’t actually retain any information from it? Learner rewards can be an enormous benefit for learner buy-in for a software, but the goal of a learning software is ultimately to learn.

Rewards can enhance learning

When done correctly, gamification of learning is addicting, fun, and informative at the same time. When learners are rewarded for accomplishing a tough task or solving a complex problem, the amount of happiness is usually tied to how challenging the learning was. However, this semi-scientific equation fluctuates from situation to situation. For example, there is a point where a training course or lesson is so difficult that completion will be met with nothing but relief that it’s over. If that exhausted learner gets a gold trophy, they’ll likely just be reminded of the grueling work instead of any elation from their virtual trophy.

Lessonly prides itself on making software that learners enjoy using to learn. Through the simple lesson interface, completion rates for learners, and the ability to take lessons on-the-go, we reward the learner throughout the process. Giving the learner a rewarding experience alongside a library of information is how Lessonly creates deep knowledge retention.

Dangers of points over books

The misuse of rewards can lead to poor habits and redundancy toward learning in the workplace. This is not to say short lessons that reward users can’t have a use within a learning software. However, if the norm becomes minimal effort for virtual rewards, the meaning of the learning itself is devalued and the focus is shifted from the work to the end result. Sure, this could increase the number of active users within a software platform, but if those users aren’t getting anything from their time spent learning, the meaning is lost.

As a trend, gamification and learner rewards should not be used to make a clunky piece of software bearable. Enterprise software has become more and more consumer-friendly over the years, but adding gamification does not complete this process. Gamification is simply about encouraging positive learning behaviors, not a silver bullet to make software compatible with the latest trendy design dogma.

Lessonly has plans for a more defined learner reward within our framework in the coming months, but we want to take the time to do it the right way. We design for the learner first, and when we decide on our best option for badges or trophies, you can count on our gamification process to give learners both satisfaction and information they can use in their jobs and lives.

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