The brain responds to games, no matter how young or old the mind may be. The digital world was built on games, and there is no reason to keep that aspect of the digital world away from your eLearning initiatives, especially with all of the positive effects that gamification has on eLearning. However, it is important to incorporate games that reinforce the context of the learning, not just building games to build them.
Combining a well organized eLearning experience with a reward system activates a hormone called endorphins in the body, the hormone that controls the feeling that we know as happiness. Even if the reward is moving into a higher level, players feel a sense of achievement, have more fun and stay more engaged in the learning experience.
Endorphins do more than give a student a high. Endorphins also create a sense of calm and safety within the environment, accelerating the ability of the mind to transmit information between neurons. The electromagnetic pulses that move between neurons are physically exciting; however, the faster that information moves between neurons, the faster the student learns. The overall effect is a positive feedback loop that adds to the learning experience.
The Benefits of Gamification
The engagement of the learner. The engagement of the learner is noticeably increased. Games can hold the attention of a learner, causing them to feel confident and positive about the entire experience. Also, the implementation of a reward for learning only accelerates the process. Eventually, this positive feeling that is associated with learning will become embedded into the long term memory of the learner as well as the information that you are trying to teach.
The interactivity of the process. Although your process may include a wide variety of objectives for the learner, none of them can be achieved unless you can create an interactive experience for the learner for a long time. Increasing the immersion of the process through gamification helps the learner to interact throughout the later portions of the process during the more difficult lessons that would otherwise frustrate the learner.
The improvement of retention. The more that a learner stays fully immersed in a process, the higher the retention process becomes. One of the most important traits for your eLearning process is to include compliance training with respect to the learning process. You increase compliance by engaging more than one sense at the same time. Music and video – video and memory – gamification helps to keep the senses occupied in full, improving overall retention.
Showcasing real world applications. Some of the best gamifications of eLearning processes include games or experiences with stories that includes the real life context of the learners. Stories help to take a concept out of the abstract world of imagination into the real world of application. Learners will be able to see exactly how a lesson applies in his or her actual life, giving additional incentive to take in the concepts.
Works for all age groups. Regardless of age, gamification works. This does not mean that every learning experience has to have fuzzy characters and feel like Sonic the Hedgehog. What it means is that no lesson will ever be boring, and the lesson will always be tied to a story and a reward structure that speaks to the learner.
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