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Understanding the ROI of Gamification in Adult Learning

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How do you teach adults? When we’re children are minds are like sponges. As we get older, however, it becomes harder to absorb and retain information.

Getting information through to adult students involves some creativity. Different methods of teaching are necessary to get information in adult learning courses to stick.

Recently, teachers of adult learning courses have turned to gamification. To properly teach via gamification, there may be an investment involved. But, trainers, school administrators, and faculty across the country are starting to see the benefits. They are beginning to agree that the initial investment is worth it.

The COVID pandemic has required teachers to focus on how to make online learning more engaging. Online teaching methods are relatively immature. In addition, keeping the attention of online students is particularly challenging. Utilizing videos, games, and quizzes to incorporate gamification strategies can create interactive online classes that engage students.

So, read along with us as we cover one of the latest advancements in adult learning theory. We’ll cover gamification training, VR simulations, as well as the overall benefits of presenting a more engaging learning experience.

There’s a lot of information to cover and you’re going to want to take notes. So, get your pen and pad handy. Your crash course on the ROI of gamification is now in session!

What Is Gamification?

Gamification is the process of turning learning into a game. Remember back when you were in school? Before a big test, your teacher may have taken a day to play History or English Jeopardy with the whole class. This is an early form of gamification.

The difference now is that VR technology and other elements can help to improve the gamification process. The result is that interacting with the curriculum becomes more engaging for students. This is true at all age levels, including adult learning.

Gamification vs Game-Based Learning

Gamification and Game-Based learning are two terms that are used interchangeably. But, there are subtle differences to each concept.

Gamification is when game elements are part of the learning environment. Awards, keeping score, leaderboards, and badges are all versions of gamification in learning. The goal is to turn the learning experience into a fun and exciting game.

The idea is that making the curriculum into a game will make the subject matter more entertaining and engaging.

Game-based learning takes a slightly different approach. The term gamification is mostly used in a business or corporate setting. Game-based learning is used to refer to integrating games into the school curriculum.

Both concepts are similar. They both accomplish the same goal. But, they are used at different age levels and in different contexts.

The Benefits of Gamification in Adult Learning

School administrators and corporate trainers are starting to recognize the ROI of gamification in their teaching and training. As learning and training have migrated from a physical classroom to an online classroom experience, teachers have had to be more creative in their approach to improve the online experience of students. Online teachers are faced with the biggest challenges of keeping online students interested. Gamification has become one of the fastest-growing methods of keeping students and employees engaged in an online learning program.

This idea of gamification adds to the building blocks of experiential learning. The best way for people to learn something is to do it. Reading about it and listening to audio clips does help. But, doing a physical activity associated with the subject matter is the best way to make concepts stick.

Gamification is a way of combining all those elements into one effective method. The audio, the visual, and the experiential come together to optimize the absorption of course material.

Let’s take a deeper look at more of the benefits of gamification in adult learning.

Increase Joy and Engagement

We’ve already touched on the fact that gamification increases user engagement. It makes perfect sense. How much classwork did you remember in school when you were bored out of your mind?

We’re willing to bet you didn’t retain much. Which classes stick with you to this day? If we had to guess, we’d say it was the ones where you had fun or your teacher was engaging. Gamification is a way of ensuring students engaged in their lessons while accomplishing that same feeling.

Promote Teamwork

Putting your students or employees through games is a way to promote teamwork and bonding. Some experts refer to this as “social sharing”.

Learning becomes a team sport through the gamification process. Employees and students have to rely on communication and collaboration to do well in the learning games you provide. This adds another emotional element to the learning process.

The concepts that students and employees learn during these games are more likely to stick. This is because there is emotion tied to their performance in the games. Students and employees feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments when they perform well in learning games.

Participants also bond over sharing their progress.


Gamification also adds a healthy element of competition to the learning process. Your learners will feel more motivated to learn by competing in the games you provide. This competition results in your students learning more than they would have with traditional methods.

Better Retention

That brings us to our next benefit: better retention. Learners who participate in adult learning games are more likely to hold onto the concepts being taught. The knowledge they’re gaining is tested in exciting and innovative ways.

Using their knowledge in new ways helps them attach their learning to new, enjoyable experiences. This, in turn, helps them to remember the course content for a long time.

VR Technology and Gamification

Modern technology allows for better gamification of learning. Leveraging advancements like VR allow teachers and managers to involve their learners in the experience like never before.

VR technology obviously helps to increase user engagement. It’s still a new technology. Students or employees who use VR during gamification may be experiencing VR for the first time.

It’s a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience that will increase enjoyment and engagement. But, using VR has other benefits as well.

Break Down Barriers

Students can learn from anywhere in the world thanks to VR technology. This aspect has become even more important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remote learning isn’t just a luxury anymore. It’s become a necessity.

VR also opens up more learning opportunities to learners everywhere. A person may want to attend a particular school or adult learning program. But, what if they live in a different location?

Before, students would have two options. They would either have to accept the fact that they couldn’t attend the program of their dreams. The other option would be to make a major life change. They’d have to move closer to the school or program of their choice.

Now, training or learning can take place anywhere there’s a VR headset. Engaging online in online program allows students to engage in a learning community that might be unobtainable in a physical environment.

Some of these headsets can be a hefty investment. Over the last few years, the cost of VR headsets has continued to come down. But the type of online education they provide is worth the cost. Being able to have students engaged while making lessons fun increases retention.

Also, VR learning technology may not be as cost-intensive as you might think.

Reduce Costs

In many ways, VR technology can reduce the costs of student and adult learning programs. The average VR headset can cost anywhere between $300 and $400. When the technology first came onto the scene, you’d need an expensive gaming computer to go along with that headset.

Now, most VR headsets can operate off a standard computer setup. They can even operate off of a mobile phone.

If you’re reading this you may think, “$300 to $400 still isn’t that cheap”. Well, you need to consider the alternative option.

If someone were to relocate to a college campus or training facility for a job, there would be a lot more costs associated with the learning process. A person would be responsible to pay for relocation expenses, room and board, meals, and much more.

There may even be more expensive travel costs involved like airfare. The costs of VR education are much less.

As long as students or employees have the right equipment, the asynchronous learning can happen anywhere in an online platform. People providing the training can use a portion of their current office space. They can even send students home with an all-in-one piece of training equipment.

Prepare Employees for Anything

Another benefit of VR training is flexibility. VR education modules can be adapted to almost any scenario. As a result, your employees will be able to handle anything that’s thrown at them.

One area where this is already being used is nursing or medical training. Nurses and other medical professionals never know what they’re going to encounter when they start a shift. Every day is different in their world.

Using VR technology allows medical staff to train their people in endless scenarios. The interactive nature of online learning provides immediate feedback and tips. Using feedback and tips provided, learners can repeat online courses as many times as they want. No matter how crazy it might be.

Traditionally, these training simulations have been done in a physical environment. But, what’s required in the medical field is always changing. Using VR technology allows medical staff to train for scenarios that currently don’t have simulations in online classrooms regardless of their location.

The Financial ROI of Gamification

Now, let’s take a look at the bottom line. When it comes to adult learning, we’re talking about training in the job marketplace. In that world, employers want to know that any training methods they implement are going to help their bottom line.

We already talked about how using VR and gamification can reduce the up-front investment in training by utilizing virtual classrooms, and online courses. But what type of benefits do employers see when it comes to their revenue numbers?

A case study was done in the UK where a training company introduced a board game to a group of salespeople. These salespeople were having trouble talking to potential prospects about their product. The product was cybersecurity.

After playing the board game, the salespeople were almost completely different people. The board game captured their attention. Their confidence in talking about cybersecurity went up 80% than before playing the board game. They also retained 40% more useful cybersecurity information to use when persuading their potential customers.

The increased confidence and knowledge from the learning experience lead to a 20% increase in sales conversions. We think that type of performance could help most businesses. Wouldn’t you agree?

It’s Not Just Fun and Games

Gamification in adult learning scenarios has a seemingly endless number of benefits. Companies are gaining higher-quality employees by integrating games and technology into their training.

The ROI for gamification is huge. And it applies to both tangible and intangible benefits. For more on gamification, or how you can use technology in your training, contact Agile Meridian today

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