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Set Your Continuing Education Program Apart by Using Gamified Learning Strategies

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Members have a variety of programs to choose from when it comes to continuing education. Unless you’re the sole provider of specific training in your space, chances are you need to consider how to differentiate yourself from the competition to attract and retain members. Providing gamified experiences can set your program apart, driving engagement and increasing learner satisfaction for your association.

Understanding the Learner

In 1969, Edgar Dale, a well-regarded educator, developed the Cone of Experience, a model that associates learning outcomes and memory with how a person learns—whether they do, hear, read, or observe. Dale explained that when someone is engaged in direct experiential learning, they remember 90 percent of what they do as they perform the task. Retention drops to 70 percent when they say and write something, 30 percent when they see, and only 10 percent when they read. Dale’s model has recently been enhanced by Nick van Dam, an executive at Gartner, who believes the way to help people remember what they learn is by providing simulations and games as part of the instructional design process. Gamification provides friendly competition among learners, elevates their sense of achievement, and motivates them to progress through the personalized learning path set up for them by completing the tasks assigned during the simulation or game.

Online games have become a staple in society. According to the recent study The State of Online Gaming, people who play video games spend approximately six hours per week doing so, and more than 27 percent of gamers admit to playing video games while at work at least once a month. Many of your members will then, naturally, turn to gamification during their professional learning time.

Building the Content

Many organizations fear gamification because they don’t understand it, or they believe it would be too difficult to implement. At its heart, gamification, or gamified learning, involves the use of game-design techniques to solve problems, engage the learner, and increase retention—and it doesn’t need to be complex. A simple way to gamify your learning experience is to incentivize performance by using badges and awards as a micro-credentialing mechanism.

As you’re building the learning program for your members, consider breaking it down into manageable, bite-sized pieces of information. As the learner completes each module or section of the program, they can receive an award that showcases their proficiency in that particular area. Multiple awards can turn into a badge that makes it easy for the learner to highlight a skill, and badges can be awarded incrementally as the learner continues to develop abilities. For instance, you may receive a “novice communicator” award if you receive 70 percent on a final skill assessment versus “wizard communicator” if you achieve 90 percent or higher.


Delivering the Program

Now that you’ve leveraged badges and awards to develop an engaging program, it’s time to take the gamified experience to the next level with leaderboards.

Leaderboards offer a way to encourage friendly competition within your program and keep your learners involved, motivated, and on track. Using leaderboards to reward individuals who achieve a desirable badge or award on their personal profile helps those learners set themselves apart as growing experts in their respective areas. It also fosters a sense of community as learners start to recognize other members they can turn to when they have questions or need support on a specific topic.


Used together, badges, awards, and leaderboards offer associations the opportunity to gamify their learning experiences, increasing engagement and satisfaction for their learners.

Check out our Gamification Guide to learn more about the various types of learners, game mechanisms, and tools you can use to deliver engaging experiences.

About the Author

Andra Popescu is a senior advisory consultant for D2L with deep expertise in change management and leadership development practices. She’s spent over seven years providing strategic, innovative, research-driven solutions for corporate executives in a variety of industries. Andra holds an Honors Bachelor of Sciences degree from McMaster University and an MBA with a focus in strategy and brand management from Ryerson University. In her spare time, she’s a Kundalini Yoga teacher, obstacle course racer, an avid runner, book lover, and travel addict.

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