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Monday, 28 January 2013 15:29

E-learning trends: What to expect in 2013

E-learning trends: What to expect in 2013

By 2015 e-learning will have a global value of $107 billion according to market researcher Global Industry Analysts. It’s predicted that in 2013 digital learning is going to be increasingly mobile, opening it up to a wider local audience. In South Africa, 2.4 million people only access the internet via their cellphones, and e-learning developers are increasingly cognisant of this fact. Just as technology is shaping and changing the way we work, shop, and even meet our partners, it is going to increasingly change the way we learn, too.


“Gamification” is the current buzzword in the business world, and its roots lie in e-learning. It was first mentioned in relation to learning at the 2010 TED (Technology, Education and Design) conference by British technology theorist Tom Chatfield in a presentation headed “Seven Ways Gaming Rewards the Brain”. Put very simply, he discovered that harnessing what keeps people coming back to video games would make e-learning more compelling and successful.


In 2011 US gamers spent $17bn on video games and it’s estimated that the average American gamer spends up to 10 hours a week gaming. These kinds of figures make a compelling argument for using the principles of gamification in e-learning design and it’s likely to be the biggest trend in e-learning in 2013.


The fact that failure isn’t possible is one of the most compelling things about video games. If you don’t succeed, you just keep trying until you do – because you know that, ultimately, you will win. This kind of attitude, when applied to studying, boosts confidence and helps people persevere because grasping difficult new knowledge becomes more of a challenge and less of a chore. Expect to see more experience bars in e-learning courseware, which make learners’ progress “concrete” and reinforces it.


Expect to see more e-learning developers to realise the importance of interactivity, too, with built-in games, animations, sound clips and other multimedia making the material more immersive. The learning of the future is going to resemble a video game more than a textbook. Some argue that “generation Y”, having grown up in a “screenified” culture, will demand this kind of learning material as they will no longer relate to the type of teaching their parents experienced.


In my next piece I look at how social learning and learning on the go will influence learning in 2013.

Published in Skills Development
Thursday, 06 December 2012 16:04

E-learning: game on!

E-learning: game on!

Good e-learning and video games have a lot in common. They’re both designed to be fun. Both platforms are immersive, allow players to track their progress easily and reward them when they do well.


“Gamification” is a bit of a buzzword in the digital sphere and in the business world, too, right now. Essentially, it means using the principles behind gaming in non-gaming contexts to make them more fun.


E-learning’s biggest development since its inception in the 90s is that it has become an immersive experience. Where it used to be known for boring “click-through” screens, it’s now a dynamic, immersive, multimedia platform. Gamification can take e-learning to the next level and make it an even more interactive experience.


In a groundbreaking presentation at TED 2010, British technology theorist Tom Chatfield discussed the “Seven Ways Gaming Rewards the Brain”. Among them were the top three elements from the gaming world that apply to the e-learning sphere: experience bars, multiple long- and short-term aims and rewards for effort.


Experience bars in games track a gamer’s progress steadily, with every positive action on their part levelling up steadily. In e-learning students monitor their own progress and when they can actually see it grow in the shape of a bar their accomplishment takes on a more concrete shape – literally.


In terms of long- and short-term aims, Chatfield writes: “You break something down into many parallel tasks. You don’t just to say to someone, do 5,000 sums, or 100, or even 50: you create a whole spectrum of larger and smaller objectives that help people take ownership of their progress, and keep them feeling they are progressing and succeeding – as well as targeting particular sets of skills.”


One of the most useful gaming principles one can transfer to e-learning is that of reward for effort, says Chadwick. Many students have the negative experience of being punished for failure in their school career. As in a game, good e-learning material should rather reward and reinforce. Learners don’t fail. As Chatfield puts it, they simply “haven’t succeeded yet”.


That’s exactly the philosophy behind good e-learning. Everyone succeeds.

Published in Skills Development
Corporate use of ‘gamification’ drives brand engagement and business goals

Companies of all kinds have begun to introduce‘ gamification’ into the way their products, processes, training and marketing are presented and consumed.

Gamification is particularly successful at promoting engagement with brands and portfolios, and driving strategic objectives like increased sales, marketing and even innovation.

This is because of a predisposition in many people to respond to fun, “cool” activities and activity-based task execution, notes Wikipedia.

The growth of gaming beyond gaming

Wikipedia describes gamification as the use of game mechanics (stories and actions) and game design techniques – in a non-game context.

Blog sites and forums have used it for some time –for example awarding higher status to users as a reward for full and frequent use of site functionality.

From there, gaming methods have branched out into social networks and other scenarios where high engagement is paramount.

Even politics and civil service have a use for it. In the run-up to the 2012 American Presidential election, various companies have been promoting voting with the use of gamification tactics. Elsewhere, authorities are rewarding drivers who stay within the speed limit by entering them . In both cases, gamification has had a significant effect on achieving objectives.

But the impact of gaming is not purely social. It also has proven influence in businesses of all kinds. Decidedly serious industries like financial services and professional services firms are showing an interest in using game techniques in their content and workplaces.

Forms of business gamification

Business gaming occurs on various platforms – websites, intranets, mobile apps and other applications – and they range from fully-fledged applications to game-like strands woven into a wider context.

A large body of techniques are available to corporates, and can be applied in different scenarios, including:

  • Progress bars to indicate closeness to completing a task that a company is trying to encourage – invites site members to start real-life projects (e.g. run a marathon) to raise funds for causes, and to set and track their fundraising goals.
  • Systems for awarding, redeeming and exchanging (trading or gifting) points, such as
  • Other awards such as discounts or achievement badges encouraging staff or customers to learn about a product, service or a key procedure or process
  • Rewards such as discounts are used along with social networks to encourage viral product referrals, such as the Stickers campaign developed by Realmdigital for Exclus1ves.
  • Leader boards, for example Shape Up and
  • Challenges between users, such as NikeFuel and Club Psych
  • Virtual currency including FNB’s eBucks, Standard Bank’s Mimoney or Bidorbuy’s bobBucks


Corporate gamification benefits

Wikipedia notes that DevHub, a website-building resource, used game techniques to increase the number of users who completed their online tasks to 80% (was 10%).

In the Exclus1ves Stickers example, reviews and ratings increased substantially as stickers now rewarded users for engaging with products. Stickers also enabled users to control which products they wanted discounted by introducing smart discounting and group buying.

According to a , more than 50% of organisations that manage innovation processes will use gamification for that purpose by 2015. Innovation is often cited as crucial to competitiveness, making this a resounding endorsement of gaming methods.


It can be challenging. Or not.

Complex endeavours like innovation and development projects involving intricate processes and ambitious goals (for example purpose-built simulation and storylines), require a serious development capability.

But gamification comes in light-touch as well as complex formats, with varying shades in-between. It need not break the bank.

Companies seeking to benefit from the persuasive power of gaming elements should choose a development partner with proven experience and references in that area.

Published in Technology



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