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Today’s learners are digital natives and have a new profile. They grew up with digital technologies, different learning styles and new attitudes to the learning process, and higher requirements for teaching and learning. Organisations are facing new challenges and have to solve important issues related to the adaptation of the learning process towards employee’s needs, preferences and requirements. Different methods and approaches that allow employees to be active participants with strong motivation and engagement to their own learning is needed. This brings us to the current buzzwords of Gamification and Game-based Learning (GBL) in the field of androgogy.

Although both are innovative ways to train your learners, they aren’t actually interchangeable. While both may relate to education and training, how they relate varies greatly.

So, what is gamification? According to Karl Kapp gamification is “using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems.” Gamification is the use of game thinking, approaches, and elements in a context different from the games. Using game mechanics improves motivation and learning in formal and informal conditions (GamifyingEducation.org). Various definitions overlap and can be summarized as follows: Gamification is an integration of game elements and game thinking in activities that are not games.

What it does mean is that you are taking motivational elements from games, such as badges or achievements, and incorporating them into the learning experience to encourage your learners to perform a specific behaviour.

An example of this in a web-based training application would be awarding learners badges for completing sections of training and posting their scores to a leaderboard. These actions encourage learners and keep them engaged.

Some Benefits of Gamification include:

  • Encourage existing behaviours
  • Change behaviours
  • Provide immediate feedback and gratification
  • Track progress and effort

On the other hand, we have game-based learning. Game-based learning is using games to teach specific content. This can be through a game created for education (serious games), or a non-educational game for educational purposes. These present a structured end-to-end approach which immerses learners in a simulated experience using game mechanics in a great way to reinforce learning. Game-based learning gives students the freedom to fail and focuses on using the game to reinforce the learning material and provide context. In essence, any variety of game encourages the player to practice, learn from their mistakes, and gain many important skills.

Using games to teach can do the following:

  • Provides creative context for content
  • Engages and encourages learners
  • Allows for peer to peer learning
  • Provides instruction in a new, more interesting and fun way
  • Allows for social interaction and building collaborative skills

While gamification and game-based learning are buzzwords in the training realm, and are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different. Gamification is using game-like mechanics, such as badges and leaderboards, in your training. It is not playing games or using games to teach. Whereas, game-based learning is using games to teach and reinforce educational objectives. Incorporating either one of these elements into your training is a sure way to catch your audience’s interest and teach them your material.

Here’s a summary of the differences between Gamification and Game-Based Learning:

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