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You have questions about e-Learning gamification, and Karl Kapp has answers!

Tune in to see Karl’s answers to the first Vyond AMA (ask me anything), featuring crowdsourced questions from Vyond customers varying from gamification, incorporating Vyond into eLearning applications, VR, and more.

Karl Kapp is an Instructional Technology Graduate Professor at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. Watch or read Karl’s responses to your instructional design questions  below. Karl mentions “GoAnimate” in his videos, but note that GoAnimate is now Vyond.


Read through our favorite answers below!

How do you gamify online learning?

KK: I’ve developed a number of resources to help in that area. You might want to follow me on Twitter @kkapp, I regularly post articles about e-Learning gamification, links to gamification resources and provide information and statistics about what is happening in the field. So that’s a good place to start.

In addition, I’ve written three books which I think can be very helpful in learning about e-Learning gamification. The first is called “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education.” It’s got a white cover and describes gamification elements and how they related to learning processes and provides the theoretical background to why gamification is effective for learning. The second book I’ve written on the topic is “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice.” This book has a black cover and the idea is that it take the concepts from the first book and shows examples, provides worksheets of how to create gamified learning and provides a high level look at implementing the concepts from the first book. But It’s not step-by-step. If you want a step-by-step book, focused on creating learning games, the book I just co-authored with Sharon Boller called “Play to Learn: Everything You Need to Know About Designing Effective Learning Games” is a step-by-step nine step process that walks you through the entire process.

If you don’t have the time to read or want to jump right into instruction. I have three courses on, LinkedIn Learning that would be helpful. They are:

Also, if you’d prefer to take a graduate course, I offer a course in Gamification at the graduate level. It’s a 15 week in depth course that covers all aspects of gamification. And, at Bloomsburg, we’ve just launched an Instructional Game Design Certificate that consists of five courses that will provide a certificate in Instructional Game Design. Very excited about that certificate program.

What’s the best gamification authoring tool for e-Learning?

KK: One great thing about Vyond is that you can export videos in several different formats and one great thing about almost every authoring tool like Captivate, Storyline and Lecture (to name a few) is that they all allow for the importation of videos. That means that moving a video out of Vyond and into an authoring tool is easy.

With most authoring tools all you need to do to import a video is to go to the “video import” button or icon, click on it and a dialogue box walks you through importing the video. It’s that easy in almost every authoring tool I’ve ever used. But to make it even easier for you, let me go to my whiteboard. Here is a link for the instructions to upload a video into Captivate and into Storyline. Take a look at the process, you’ll see it’s pretty simple and straightforward.

What’s the future of  Virtual Reality platforms?

KK: We are starting to see instructional design become a hot topic within Virtual Reality. It seems to be that every learning technology starts with a great deal of hype around the technology and the focus seems to be on the technology first and then the industry seems to start to focus on instructional design. And good instructional design doesn’t change based on the technology, good instructional design first focuses on the learning need and then decides what technology is the most appropriate. I’ve written several articles on instructional design for virtual reality. Here are some links for you to check out::

Now, in terms of e-Learning gamification and Virtual Reality, I think VR is a better-suited technology for game-based or scenario-based learning.  So look for interactive game-based learning or scenario-based learning to be the killer app for VR as opposed to e-Learning gamification. Because VR totally immerses the user in the environment, you don’t need to use game elements (which is gamification), instead, you can use an entire game mechanics paradigm for the VR learning event.

What kind of purpose could animations serve in a course scenario?

KK: One thing an animation does very well is to help tell a story. I’ve seen animation embedded into a scenario-based learning course where the scenario is introduced by an animation and then once a user makes a decision that is presented to him or her in the scenario, an animation plays out the consequences of the user’s decision and I’ve even seen animations used to then show the epilogue or conclusion to the total actions the user has taken. Well placed animations within a scenario course allow the user to witness what happens when they choose a certain response and see the answer playout based on their answer. Animations in a video game, for example, help to advance the narrative of what is happening within the game mechanics and animations in scenarios can serve the same purpose. I think there are lots of opportunities to use animations within scenario-based learning.

Can animated videos replace live training?

Let’s not think of animation and video as replacing “live” training sessions, let’s think of it as augmenting live sessions. First, let’s talk about two things that cause difficulty with live sales training. One is that a great deal of live sales training centers on the process of conducting role-plays. When doing a role-play only one or two people are actually applying the sales skills, the rest of the folks are observing, and if one person in the role-play is doing something wrong or incorrectly, then all the users are observing the wrong behavior. Say the behavior has to be corrected and tried again, but because of a large class size, the person who did it wrong doesn’t have a second chance. It’s someone else’s turn. Second, believe it or not, sometimes salespeople will “collude” with each other during the role-play and the role-play becomes so easy that a sale is guaranteed because the two people are working together. Or,  the opposite, one person is so obstinate that a sale never happens. And actually, when you are performing a behavior such as in a role-play, it’s often difficult to correctly reflect on what you did during the role play because you are so caught up in the role play you don’t realize what you are doing.

Don’t get me wrong, role plays can be great for applying skills but jumping into role-plays might not lead to the learning you want. So before the “live” sales training/role play, it might be good to provide videos or animations of the best way to have the desired sales conversation.

Video and animation can provide a perfect example of the exact behavior, body language and demeanor you want from your salesperson. And, with a video, any part of the sales conversation can be frozen, rewound or reviewed as many times as the salesperson in training needs to learn the process.  A video of the sales process can be the perfect example of the best way to approach the sale.

And observing behavior, attitudes and body language is a great way to learn those skills. According to Albert Bandura’s (an educational theorist). There is something called social learning theory, which is where people learn through observing others’ behavior, attitudes, and outcomes of those behaviors. Video is perfect for this. In fact, video provides content and instruction at the learner’s own pace and allows for careful observation of what is happening in the “sales” process.

According to Bandura, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, we form an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action. So use video and animations to model the ideal behavior and use the live sessions for practice.

How do you implement new platforms with limited budget?

KK: First step of any learning initiative is to make sure it is meeting an actual, measurable business need. Once you have done that step, you can inexpensively use PowerPoint to create a branching simulation of software. So what you do is to storyboard the flow of the screens you want to simulation.

Then conduct screen captures of the software screens and then create links in PowerPoint to move the learner from one screen to another or make the links in the right place on the screen where the learner needs to click. You can create invisible links in PowerPoint so it doesn’t interfere with the look of your software screen.  Here’s a some links to some slides that help explain. You may also want to consider a branching tool like Twine to provide some assistance.

When should you use gamification in e-Learning?

KK: This is the old “it depends” answer. I would rarely use gamification for everything and most likely use it in segments. Gamification elements can be really effective as pre-work for a course and as post-work to pull content through and help learners remember the content after the initial instructional event. In those two cases, it’s gamification as a segment. One segment before learning intervention and one segment after.

Gamification elements are especially effective for helping employees and students learn conceptual, declarative, or factual, knowledge. This is because of the repetitive nature of gamification and the typical question and answer construction used in many gamification tools.

Requiring learners to recall information helps to reinforce the information and makes recall faster and more efficient. Many topics can be covered using gamification. Gamification is often used in new employee orientation, or onboarding, to provide a motivating, interesting, and engaging method of introducing employees to a new company. Gamification is often used to teach salespeople new features and functionalities of products they’ll be selling, and it’s been used to reinforce leadership skills.

Having said all that, e-Learning gamification can help set the stage. If you have a comprehensive subject or process, like teaching how to conduct an audit or design instruction, I might put the learner in a gamified experience and have them actually conduct a mock audit or develop instruction for a fictional client. So I think it depends on the content and what you are trying to teach whether or not to segment or us it for the entire design and delivery of the instruction. The key is to look at what you are teaching and determine what instructional strategy is best.

For healthcare training, where is a good place to start with gamification?

KK: Gamification can be highly effective for teaching declarative knowledge, things that need to be memorized, so that’s a good place to start in Healthcare. Gamification is excellent for helping people learn terms, terminology and acronyms. Conceptual knowledge can also be effectively conveyed via gamification, so I think that’s a natural second step: teaching concepts such as mechanism of action or the concept of a certain class or drug or treatment.

What have you found to work well?

KK: The one game mechanic that everyone forgets about, but is far more powerful than points, badges, or leaderboard, is the freedom to fail. Games allow failure, encourage failure, and include failure as part of the process. In a game, usually only one person can win and everyone else fails. However, because it’s framed within a game…the sting of failure is reduced.

And in fact, when you fail or lose in a game, you often want to play again because you think you can do better next time. This encourages non-linear, critical thinking, perseverance, and motivation.  Compare that with most e-Learning designs that punish failure, make you feel dumb if you aren’t successful, and force you to repeat content in exactly the same way you just experienced it.

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