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Gamified learning – Child’s play?

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Child’s play, or real learning? Gamified learning and development is the next big thing in L&D. But what is gamified learning in virtual reality (VR)? Where does it fit in L&D?

When you hear the word game, what do you think? Perhaps you’re remembering playing board games in days gone by, or teenagers hammering buttons? Perhaps the last association you make, would be learning and game in the same sentence. Well, there’s a new kid on the block – gamified virtual reality learning and it’s set to revolutionise employee training.

Not only does this new fangled concept use gaming principles, it also uses the medium of virtual reality (VR).  Going under the guise of ‘serious games’, ‘edugames’ or ‘games for education’, gamified learning describes the application of game-like environments (game mechanics) to promote motivation for learning and solving problems. Table 1 provides an overview of the type of features you can expect to find in gamified learning.

Gamified Learning Elements

  • Points & Scores – Challenges, quests, missions, tasks, clear goals
  • Badges, Achievements, Medals & Trophies – Leader boards, ranking
  • Levels – Quizzes, questions
  • Multiplayer – Avatar, character, virtual identity
  • Narrative & Theme – Adaptive difficulty and challenge

Why gamified learning for L&D?

Increasingly employee surveys and industry reports find e-learning alone no longer hits the spot. Employees are starting to demand more, than just a set of click through screens and multiple-choice assessment. Gamelearn (2020) surveyed 1,500 HR professionals and employees across the US and Europe, to gain insights into e-learning. Notable findings indicate e-learning is passive, disengaging, boring and failing to stimulate interest, let alone actual learning. 51% of employees identified VR as a popular medium for online learning.

When we’re talking about gamified learning, we don’t mean a game in the strictest sense, more of something with gamified elements. I’m sure you’ll be familiar with the idea of team raft building, which involves allocating a limited set of resources to a team to build a raft to ride water rapids, or to sail off into the sunset (whichever vision is most pleasing to you).

Obviously, with COVID-19 restrictions, ever increasing home working and geographically dispersed teams trying to raft build in person is challenging. Wheel out a reasonably affordable Quest 2 head mounted display (HMD) and you suddenly have the ability to enable employees to raft build wherever they are in the world. This comes with the caveat of requiring a reasonable Internet speed and software, but you get the idea – This is totally possible in VR.

Utilising gamified learning brings to life traditional in person team building activities, across geographically dispersed teams anywhere and at any time e.g., raft building. Providing businesses with a mechanism to transport their employees to any environment at the click of a button, removing the need for expensive travel or the need to wait for months to book and plan an activity.

To gamify this raft building activity is pretty simple, the objective is simple: To build and sail a working raft as quickly as possible. But it demonstrates the point I’m trying to make. Setting clear objectives, or tasks is important to avoid employees simply cruising aimlessly around the virtual environment.

Small adaptations within the VR environment can instantly give a new dimension and experience. For example, instead of giving the team a pile of resources why not hide them in the environment. This helps to pull the team into task, providing an orientation into the brave new virtual world they find themselves in.

Points scoring is important to maintain a leader board, and a sense of competition with other teams faced with the same challenge. Teams could be allocated points for building a raft in the shortest time, using the fewest resources possible. You could even set the challenge, or problem of building two rafts from a pile of resources.

Gamified learning from The VR Hive

At The VR Hive we’ve been working on a gamified VR learning scenario underscoring soft skills aligned to formal national qualification frameworks. Leveraging creative instructional design to provide users with the very best learning experience, we’re supporting employees to demonstrate and develop industry standard professional skills and standards. All whilst having fun – what’s not to like? If you’d like to get your hands on our latest development, why not get in touch to become a Beta tester. We’re always on the lookout for individuals with a passion for innovation and disruptive technologies. Get in touch: info@thevrhive.com.

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