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The efficiency of your microlearning feedback loop is a key element in the gamification of learning – it keeps employees focused, inspired and promotes enjoyment of continuous learning.

Learning and development professionals know that getting employees to commit to on-the-job learning is a challenge. Gamification – using gaming design, elements and mechanisms to maximise enjoyment and engagement in learning – is the best device in the L&D toolkit. Key to the gamification of learning is microlearning feedback. Data-driven, instant feedback clarifies goals, drives motivation and enriches the learning experience. The result? A more proficient and engaged workforce with a positive effect on your business.

Let’s find out more about the benefits of gamification and how you can use meaningful feedback to drive your microlearning strategy.

The gamification – microlearning connection

Two groundbreaking social developments took place in the second half of the 20th century. Education embraced the concept of learning as fun and students became involved in a more active type of learning. And gaming went from crude arcade video games to eighth generation consoles and a $152 billion industry.

For decades, professionals have studied the psychology of gaming. An ideal game flow happens when a game challenges a player sufficiently to keep them interested in playing, by being neither too hard (not fun anymore) nor too easy (plain boring).

Gamification came from this learning. Elements of gaming – which can be anything from point scoring, leaderboards and competitions, to sophisticated simulated experiences – make the hard or boring stuff fun. The purpose is to quickly engage people in the experience of learning, accommodate different learning styles, and help them absorb information easily and retain it for longer.

Microlearning is a response to our busy lives and the way we access and process information in a world of search engines and mobile devices. Chunks of training content are reduced to bite size modules that can be accessed from any device and easily digested in one short session.

By now you’ll see the natural connection between gamification and microlearning. When combined, they create a microlearning solution that is fun and interactive, personalised and relevant. Together, they increase engagement in learning, drive strong behavioural change, and allow people to see real world applications – this significantly improves a person’s ability to implement new information, post-training.

Role of feedback in the microlearning process

Gamification has three components: motivation, mastery and triggers. The trigger elements tell people when and where they can complete a training module. But even if a person is motivated and has the ability to complete the module, there may be obstacles – they could be distracted or doubt their ability to achieve the end goal. Triggers are designed to help people overcome their personal obstacles. But without an effective microlearning feedback loop, your triggers will probably fail because you’ll be unaware of a person’s lack of progress or changing perceptions.

In an interview with Forbes, Yu-kai Chou, author of Actionable Gamification: Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards, predicted that as gamification became more mature in 2019, organisations would “go deeper” to find ways to make desired behaviours more enjoyable. This would see a shift from extrinsic motivation design (rewards and incentives) to intrinsic motivation design (making tasks enjoyable). Rewards and incentives motivate an individual to begin a set of actions, but they don’t tend to last long. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, guarantees long term commitment because doing the task itself feels meaningful and rewarding.

Microlearning feedback mimics the instant feedback we’ve come to expect in games – click here and your avatar goes into battle. Perform well and get bonus points; enough to buy a magical sword from a virtual store. Applied to learning programs, real-time feedback gives employees a live view of their personal targets and achievements. They can see how they’re progressing and test their knowledge, be motivated with reminders, and encouraged to stay the course.

If your training sessions only offer feedback at the end, you’ll need to change this. Feedback should be given throughout a course. This allows people to learn as they progress and can give them the learning tools they’ll need to get through more complex modules with confidence.

How to include purposeful feedback in your learning programs

Choose a type of personal interaction

A gamified microlearning solution must include a continuous feedback loop that gives people the cues they need to assess their progress and the learning tools to improve as they move through the training content. To do this, you will need to decide how people interact with content, as well as with their training coach and peers.

  • A microlearning solution can allow people to engage with content through simulations, or a productive failure design that encourages them to come up with methods for solving complex problems.
  • One-on-one interaction with a training coach could include a problem or game-based learning experience in which a person must discover crucial information from subject matter experts instead of sitting through a boring monologue. Real-time feedback can also take the form of regular reminders about how each part of the training will benefit their everyday work.
  • Peer interaction can include feedback from a mentor or co-worker. Giving people the option to ask for support while performing a task in a real life, simulated scenario is a particularly valuable example of a microlearning feedback loop.

Choose the right learning management systems

Traditional learning management systems were used to keep records and curate training content. Today, they do a lot more. Choosing the right system should be based on your objectives – is the system going to be used mainly for onboarding, or will it need to accommodate the large volumes of information involved in advanced training?

A system should always be scalable, have analytics and metrics capabilities, have built-in content authoring tools and a user-friendly interface, support multiple languages and locations, have a fast implementation time, an effective reporting mechanism and offer security compliance. Keep in mind that gamification and microlearning are all about accessibility. So make sure your learning management system can curate a mobile app and training content for mobile devices.

The future of microlearning feedback

Technological advances in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), along with machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), are already changing the way the gamification of learning is designed and applied.

Simulated real life 360-degree environments, animations, peer-to-peer training support, interactive tutorials, and intelligent systems that gauge a person’s level of comprehension to constantly adjust to individual rates of learning and learning styles – have just begun to hint at the potential of next-generation instructional design and application in gamification.

The goal of feedback in a microlearning environment – to better trigger, understand, motivate, adjust and inspire – is to change not only how we learn, but our perceptions of the learning process and active involvement in a culture of learning. With an engaged, aware and productive workforce, companies stand to make significant gains.