Gamify Your Own Personal Learning Experiences and Watch What Happens

Gamification has gained a lot of attention in the areas of development and training within larger business environments. It has reshaped how corporate training programs are delivered by finding methods to increase interest, maintain engagement, and make the information more accessible. But do the benefits of gamification end with these large-scale implementations? Can the principles be used to change how we design our own personal learning experiences, and, if so, to what benefit?

The answers are “no” and “yes,” respectively. And here’s how it works.

The Principles of Learning

Effective learning is often governed by specific principles. This includes an assessment of prior knowledge, the organization of the new material, personal motivation, skills integration, and timely feedback. These points are generally present whether we choose to take a traditional class, learn on our own, or any combination in between.

Since the structure remains intact, most choices revolve on the delivery method. And that’s where gamification comes in.

Gamify Personal Learning

Since personal learning is self-directed, there is some flexibility regarding how it is approached. And the design of many video games can lead those choices.

Video games tend to follow a singular methodology. You start with an understanding of the overall quest (or purpose for the venture), work through various tasks to complete larger stages, gain experience and abilities, and continue forward one step at a time until the goal is reached. This perspective fits perfectly with most personal learning objectives.

Your overall educational goal defines your quest, but there are multiple steps that must be completed to get you from where you are today to the level of knowledge you wish to hold. By identifying the larger steps, you can create your stages (or levels). Then, divide those into individual tasks to define your path. This process ultimately takes something that can seem quite complex, and even intimidating, and turn it into something more manageable.

Then, if you treat each task as an achievement as well as a method for tracking your progress, you have successfully used gamification to enhance your personal learning. You’ve taken actions that may have just seemed like small pieces of a larger picture, and given them meaning and value. Reaching a goal helps you feel accomplished, and that positive feeling helps keep you moving forward.

Why Small Pieces?

If a goal (or project) is too large, it can feel doomed from the start. In some cases, the idea is so cumbersome that people fail even to start. By turning those larger goals into smaller pieces, it is easier to see how something sizable can actually be managed.

For example, if your goal is to get a degree, that can feel like a tall order. However, if you sit down and figure out how many classes you have to take, you have taken a big goal and split it into a series of steps. Then examine the class, and break it down further, such as based on the number of weeks it will last or the chapters that will be covered. Consider each of those smaller pieces on its own.

Is making it through one week of classes hard? What about one chapter? Likely, the work is beginning to seem less intimidating. Now, just take each small task as it comes, one-by-one, and check them off as you go. And every time you check something off the list, take a moment and relish in the accomplishment. Before you know it, the check marks start to really add up, and you may find yourself moving through your personal learning goals faster than you even realized was possible.

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