Exploring Eight Significant Learning Patterns of the Gamification Spectrum

Gamification is the phenomenon of applying gaming elements in a non-game context, with an intent to boost learner engagement. Gamified learning is not merely converting things from real world into games, but can also be applied to real world applications. It is a proven tool that helps increase interaction with organizational workforce for a longer span of time. For instance, badges and rewards are given to employees on achieving a certain level, providing recognition among peers for their skills, experience and knowledge.

What is Gamification Spectrum?

The gamification spectrum is designed to organize existing gamification tools including points, leaderboards, badges and others. There are different kinds of gamification tools used to serve different purposes. By organizing these tools in a spectrum, you can choose the right ones that cater to the diversified learning needs. Let us explore the eight patterns that are included in a gamification spectrum (from left to right):

Gamification SpectrumImage source:

1. Gamified learning behavior

The gamified behavior implies an action from a single participant. For instance, learners earn points for a single action such as a tweet, download or something. Moving towards the right, their behavior becomes more engaged. A player must repeat his action multiple times before he gets a badge. Moving further, he motivates other players as well to get on the leaderboard. Lastly, on the rightmost side of the spectrum, the expected behavior becomes more complex, involving reciprocal actions from other players.

2. Build metrics

Gamification depends upon efficient tracking of varied learning styles and patterns through metrics and data. As learning behavior becomes more complex, the metrics associated with it becomes sophisticated. On the left, data depict short timescale tools and shifting towards the right, you find tools such as leaderboards that use time-based frequency metrics.

3. Chance of susceptibility

Gaming tools on the left of the spectrum are mostly susceptible to gaming because the behavior is derived from a single action, providing the player with complete control over the game. So, players can repeat their moves to earn maximum points. On the other hand, tools on the right side of the spectrum encourage behaviors that depend on actions of different players, thereby making the gamification process more challenging for learners.

4. Scope of instant feedback

Tools on the left in the spectrum are based on cumulative data and therefore in favor of learners playing for a longer time. Making these tools visible to all may be demotivating as well, so tools with a shorter feedback timescale are more suitable. However, when we shift to the right, metrics become less susceptible to gaming. The rewards and achievements are suitable for public display, representing the performance of individuals.

5. Value of rewards

As tools on the left of the spectrum only provide feedback based on players' performance, rewards from these tools are extrinsic. Moving towards the right, the rewards become less predictable, as feedback is triggered only when gamified actions reach the threshold. This initiates a precise reward criterion to motivate players and promote their participation. For instance, learners are asked to complete a specific task to win an award. This motivates them to focus on skills involved before moving to the next topic. To achieve the desired results, they couple each learning objective with an e-learning reward or badge. On winning each level, players earn a new badge for mastering new skills or winning any task.

6. Sustainability

If you imagine a gamified e-learning course with no reward system, then it would be a boring game. Therefore, it is important to provide extrinsic rewards which act as a driver to boost learner engagement. It appears as a challenge for game developer to organize rewards in a way that it results in intrinsic motivation and increased learner retention. Intrinsic rewards are more meaningful and provide greater value to the achievements of learners.

7. Extinction

The extinction period is defined as the time taken by gamification tools to become ineffective in driving the desired behavior. Based on the sustainability factor discussed above (as sustainability is directly related to extinction period), we can analyze which tools will work longer or shorter than others. Tools on the left side are not sustainable and have a short extinction period as they are not efficient enough to drive the desired behavior. As you move to the right, learners' behavior gets more complex, thereby making the game more challenging. For players who are determined to win, game continues to drive the behavior. Consequently, the extinction period of the challenging games increase.

8. Engaging learners

Tools on the left side of the spectrum are easy games, thereby increasing the chances for learners to participate. Conversely, tools towards the right end of the spectrum are challenging games, with a small number of audiences to engage. As we know, simplicity drives behavior, players who are not motivated enough also engage to carry out the behavior as it does not require much ability.

Gamified learning approach will continue to foster in diverse industry domains such as automobile, aviation, healthcare and more. Incorporation of game elements depends on how these will impact the human behavior, by analyzing their customized learning needs and preferences. Gamification has a great potential to turn your learning experience into something more fun and exciting.

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