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Can gamification and other interactive methods improve trainings

Corporate trainings can be very beneficial for employees, but they can also be quite tedious and even exhausting. Plus, not everyone learns in the same ways. Some people like to read, others prefer a more hands-on approach and so on. This is why many instructors look for new methods and approaches to deliver their trainings in the best way so that they maximize the retention rate.

There are plenty of benefits when it comes to using gamification and other interactive methods in various types of corporate trainings. Today we will focus on IT trainings. They have their own specifics which allow to change things up a bit to improve the experience for trainees.

Setting the goals

Before you decide to turn your deliveries of IT trainings into gamification bonanzas, take a couple of breaths. In order for such an approach to be effective, it has to cover a few basis:

The course material in question has to be suitable

Some types of trainings would allow you to create challenges and gamify the approach. For example, the first to complete a certain coding exercise gets 10 points, the second 5, the third – 2 and so on.

Some trainings though aren’t suitable for such challenges. They could be very theoretical or their labs might not be appropriate for competition-style completion. So, take some time to explore the course and see what parts of it you can gamify to make them feel a bit more interactive and engaging.

The audience has to be “game”

Even if the course is ideal for gamification and you have some great ideas, that doesn’t mean you should go through with them. You have to know your audience first. Some clients might prefer you to keep a very strict and professional attitude during training deliveries. Or maybe just the certain group of trainees doesn’t really feel like “gaming” right now and prefers a more classic approach.

This is why you have to research the client and their preferences. If they are OK with such an approach, then you have to ask the trainees at the beginning of the course delivery if they are also interested. Some may like the idea of gamifying certain aspects of the training, but they may not like a competition angle. So, you may have to adapt your approach as you go.

What exactly is gamification?

To put it simply, it’s a learning method where all or certain part of the material are learned through having a game-like feel. It’s a way to make learning effortless, more engaging and motivating for everyone involved.

Basically it takes elements from video games and applies them to learning and training. For example, it can be a gratification-based approach where each completed task earns you an achievement badge. Another option is to earn “levels” and “level-up” with each completed task or path. Or it can be a challenge-based task where the winners get some sort of a prize. Usually it’s a symbolic prize. Or it can be as simple as a quiz game at the end.

Often there are several of these approaches mixed together in one big story. For example, earning achievements for smaller tasks, scoring points for challenges and leveling-up for completing a full path. Some can add “no-teaming” rules or the opposite and so on.

“So, it’s exceedingly simple”, you say? You’re quite right. Usually the simplest things can bring big changes and benefits.

What are those benefits? Again, they can vary greatly depending on the type of training, gamification method and audience. In general, they allow for some of the following added benefits:

  • Better motivation and feel of recognition among employees
  • Better retention of the learned materials
  • Learning more with a practical approach
  • Team building effect
  • Better for goal-oriented teams
  • Helps learning how to adapt to various situations
  • Helps overcome the fear of mistakes
  • Bridges the gap between reading and doing

Gamification brings some benefits to the trainers, as well. Instructors can use gamification to establish paths for completing specific learning goals. For example, making sure everyone learn a certain module from the training and learn it well.

Another benefit is instant feedback. Both learners and trainers can see what they are handling with ease and what is proving to be challenging for them so it needs more attention and/or explanation.

Other approaches

Of course, there are other interactive learning methods, too. Some can feature role playing, debating and so one. Usually employees like when a training surprises them with an innovative approach and something actually new and useable. Even if it’s just making them feel part of the process, instead of getting one-directional transfer of information towards them.

Again, each approach can vary a lot. Extroverted employees should respond better to interactive methods which require more talking. On the other hand, introverted employees might feel uncomfortable and can even get lost in the shuffle.

So, trainers have to be on the top of their game and be able to discern how the trainees are actually responding to the training and be able to adapt to that. Yes, it would require a more personalized approach, which often also needs more time. This is where the trainer has to be able to find the right balance between traditional teaching and gamifying. In all cases first you have to make sure everyone knows the goals.

Today video training is also considered an interactive learning method. Mainly because it allows trainees to learn at their own pace. Plus it gives them the opportunity to learn on the move and to have access to the information at a later time.

So, can all of this actually help IT trainings? Absolutely. It’s not a one-and-done solution, nor is it a one-for-all solution, either. In order to be effective, trainers and even training providers have to spend some time developing suitable approaches for each course. Then it’s up to the clients and trainees whether they want to go through with it or if they prefer a traditional approach. But, yes, gamification and interactive learning methods certainly have big potential and shouldn’t be dismissed or overlooked.