Contrary to what you may believe, these two are quite different. It is a common mistake to use these interchangeably. While both of them use games in the elearning course, there are specific differences that you need to be aware of. Knowing the difference will allow you to select the right approach that will meet your specific objectives.
Gamification, when integrated into a training program, is the use of elements and mechanics with a game-like design. This results in a more motivating and engaging activity even if they are not really games. Examples of these include the use of badges, point systems, and even quests. These are not games but they give the elearning course a competitive feeling that makes everything more exciting for the learners.
When using gamification in your course, it is important for you to keep things simple. This is especially true if you are using a lot of elements in the program. This is to keep the learners from getting confused with all the rules that each activity will have. As long as the focus of the activity is goal achievement, it should help the program reach its objective. And on a last note, make sure that the rewards that you will offer (e.g. who has the most badge, highest in the leaderboard), will be motivating the learners further. Try not to give too much “prizes” like gifts or something tangible. Recognition is sometimes a more effective reward than a gift for the leading trainee in the group.
Game-based learning, on the other hand, uses actual games to help learners develop a skill or achieve a certain objective in their elearning course. These games may be existing online games or specifically created for the training program. This, like gamification, makes the course engaging for the learners. The games have rules and will put learners in a winning or losing position – depending on their performance. In most cases, passing the course, or a portion of it, will depend on their performance in the games. An important distinction between gamification and game-based learning is that the content of the latter will have to fit the concept of the game that will be used. In gamification, it is the other way around, the game design will have to fit the content of the course.
When integrating game-based learning in your training program, it is important for you to highlight interactivity and immersion. Do not let learners just go through the motions of the game. Make sure they are immersed in the game so they can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge that is intended for them to learn. And make sure that these objectives are clearly defined from the start. That way, learners will know what to expect from the game. It is also important to determine the difficulty of the game. While you want the game to be challenging, you need to keep it from being too frustrating. It should be serious but add in the element of fun always. That way, the learners will be motivated to complete the game.
As you can see, there are specific differences between gamification and game-based learning. Take note of these differences before you decide what to use in your training program. Check your objectives so you can decide which one is best for the course you are going to use in training.
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