The Fundamentals of Gamification in eLearning

There are 900 words in this article. Do you think you can finish reading it under 10 minutes? Only the most efficient readers can. Are you one of them? Let’s find out.

Your time…..starts…..NOW!
The_Fundamentals_of_Gamification_in_eLearning_1I’m not serious, of course. But rewind the clock ten seconds, and honestly think for a moment—wasn’t there a part of you that had all but readied itself to read this article at a speed fast enough to put a bullet to shame? I’m willing to bet that there was. Thanks to the incredible human impulse of rising to a challenge; to reap its rewards or even to simply bask in the glory of having ‘bested’ it. It is this very human impulse that gamification taps into and makes any banal process engaging and much more compelling.

When employed in the learning process, especially in eLearning, gamification can not only provide the much-needed intrigue and excitement, but it can also vastly enhance the learning experience, making it fun and even quite addictive. Now, much has already been documented on the myriad benefits of gamification, including statistical data proving that gamification dramatically improves learner motivation and knowledge retention. So, instead of trying to make the sale for gamifying your training, let us explore the actual process of how best to achieve that.

Gamification Motivation Techniques Flat Composition

Know Your Audience

All the exemplary statistics of gamified learning notwithstanding, any gamification strategy is not guaranteed to work across all learner demographics. A sound gamification strategy must thus start with knowing and understating the target audience. Factors like their average age, job profile, technological proficiency and even cultural considerations play a critical role in selecting the right solution.

Consider the Content

Besides the target audience, the right gamification strategy largely depends on the knowledge material or content. While it has become a common practice to turn the content into your average scored and/or timed assessment questions, albeit packaged into a fancy gamified activity, not all types of content can be or even should be treated as such. In some cases, the content may warrant multiple viewings, revisions, and being largely retained in its original format. An alternative, in such cases, could be gamifying the learning pathway, or in other words, the progression of the learner as they navigate through these materials. It is never a good idea to try and fit the content into a pre-determined gamification strategy. Rather, the content itself must dictate what strategy would be right for it.

Introduce Choices

Pre-packaged gaming routines tend to be too familiar, resulting in learners losing interest soon enough. Your gamification strategy should let the learner control some elements of the experience. Options to select individual avatars, roles, environment settings and so on are a good place to start. You can also think about providing trade-off choices that can make the experience more interesting and ultimately, more rewarding. Sacrificing scores for hints, being able to select more points initially while giving up a ‘life’ are but a few examples of such trade-offs. Employing branching-scenarios is yet another way of letting the learner make key decisions and then showing them the consequences of those decisions. Whatever strategy you choose to go with, the end-goal is to ensure that each learner ends up having a different experience than another, based on their choices.

Choice way concept. Decision business metaphor. Vector flat style design. Isolated on background.

Maintain Continuity

It can help your cause to tie together multiple gamified courses under a common theme or story arc, or even with common characters. Learners tend to be more engaged in subsequent “episodes” of the overall narrative, as they feel invested and naturally wish to explore further with much enthusiasm. However, to be tied together like this, it is important that the different training courses have a common business goal or similar learning goals. Continuity must also be maintained within a single course. The idea is to make the learner feel that the learning experience is a continuous, cohesive journey.

Provide Constant Feedback

While in some cases, it is conceivable that delayed feedback and gratification may be more helpful, a gamification strategy is best served when the learner gets to feel that their learning experience is, for lack of a better word, ‘alive’. Providing constant feedback in terms of hints, tips, comments, and recommendation shelp make the learner feel that what they are interacting with is talking to them, which enhances their engagement. You should also keep rewarding the learners with motivating feedback elements like badges, trophies, leaderboard ranks etc. However, remember to not over-reward them, else you risk trivializing the rewards themselves.

Up the Ante

The final critical element of designing a good gamification strategy is to not make it monotonous. Many a time, gamified solutions have the learners do the same thing over and over, across multiple rounds/levels. This gets old pretty soon as the novelty wears off. You must keep raising the bar of difficulty and challenge with each new phase of the solution. You can also introduce newer environments, newer features to tinker with and even newer types of rewards.

boy with sword and coins inside of coffer with life bars

Implement these strategies correctly and you will have designed an effective gamified solution for your learners, one that they will enjoy experiencing. Gamification should not be about winning or losing or being the best right away. A great gamified solution is instead more about multiple revisits to ‘get it right’. It keeps the learner yearning for more.

An Instructional Designer’s Experience with Automation Testing

Harbinger organizes an annual event called Automathon. This event primarily focuses on automation testing, wherein participants write test scripts on given scenarios. Although I am an instructional designer by profession, I decided to participate in this event, owing to my personal interest in the testing function.

The Automathon primarily focuses on testing through an automated framework called Harbinger’s Integrated Hybrid Automation Framework (HIHAF). While dedicated professionals can undoubtedly do a great job at testing various scenarios, it is ideal that some part of the process is automated, to achieve massive turnovers. HIHAF is a great example of it. The framework requires quality engineers to write test scripts and it executes those scripts. So, although I knew I had a tool which could do half the job, the other half was to be done by me. I already had a sneak peek into writing test scripts; but what came as a big learning was manipulating the application to work with those scripts. When writing test scripts, you need to know why and how the application functions under certain conditions.

Before I participated in this event, I always felt that writing test scripts doesn’t require a great deal of programming knowledge. But what I did not realize was that one still needs to fathom well with the objects used in the software and their behavior. It requires understanding the processes and the environment surrounding these processes.

Apart from how I dealt with the writing of scripts, there were a lot of other takeaways for me from this event. I realized that it was just a beginning into the world of automation testing for me and I had a long way to go. I got to meet many people who have been doing really well in this area. It made me think of how frameworks like HIHAF could be beneficial to a wide range of industries. I found myself celebrating new ideas.

It left me with a lurking question, why don’t we embrace good things and ideas from other industries and functions upon whom we thrive, while working in our respective roles. What do you think?

My Life at Harbinger

A career is an ongoing journey of self-discovery and growth. When this journey is adorned with learning, recognition and fun—it becomes truly satisfying and rewarding. In a nutshell, that’s my life at Harbinger.

With the hope of advancing my career and maturing as a professional, I embarked on a new expedition and entered into a partnership with the Harbinger Group early this year. I joined this organization as a Lead Instructional Designer and my experience so far has been fantastic and extremely rewarding. In this blog-post, I’m capturing a few experiences from my journey at Harbinger.

The Company Culture

As a new entrant, I was inspired to see so many women leaders here. I’m really excited about being part of an organization that strongly believes in developing its people and promoting inclusivity. Every employee in this company is valued as a ‘partner’ and is provided with an equal opportunity to explore their talents, interests and goals. By policy design, every employee frequently connects with their manager via one-on-one meetings. This facilitates an open communication to understand how everything is going and enables both the manager and the employee to uncover ways to progress towards success. The organization’s architecture is such that it provides employees with a clear understanding of their work and guides them in the right direction. So, each one of us exactly knows what it takes to do a great job and advance in our career mission. All that matters is our passion for work and vision for future. I feel a strong sense of belonging here, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why you’ll spot a lot of happy professionals here!

On-boarding at Harbinger

I must admit that I was fairly impressed with the entire on-boarding process. In my 7 year journey in the corporate world, this is the first organization that formally welcomed me with a well planned on-boarding itinerary. All credit goes to the Talent Management team that is purely engaged in enriching an employee’s experience at Harbinger. I was very anxious as I was stepping into my new workplace but thankfully, the experts from this team made all the paperwork, people and processes fairly easy.

My Team

It feels great to be part of this amazing group of people who work towards developing innovative digital learning solutions for customers. Harbinger Interactive Learning Private Limited is a mixed bag of people with competency in marketing and sales, project management, instructional design, multimedia design, program design and quality assurance. In this lot, I am a part of the Instructional Design team, a bunch of creative and visionary writers. We work closely with both customers as well as internal stakeholders to capture project requirements and formulate a solution that best addresses their training needs. I am proud to be working with a team of Instructional Designers who are thought leaders in their own way. My work becomes more enriching because of the continuous learning largely facilitated by my manager and with the ongoing interactions with my peers.

Transparency and Trust

Transparency and trust are the core values that the leadership at Harbinger radiates. Right from people at the top till your immediate supervisor—these values are seen across all levels of the leadership chain at Harbinger, and are passed on to everyone else too. These values make employees more compassionate and relatable; and in turn; gives them the confidence to overcome challenges coming their way. That’s one of the key reasons why you see a lot of innovation and ideas coming from people here.

Celebrating Synergy

Synergy is not just limited to the intense brainstorming meetings that we have—it goes beyond that. Even with the crazy deadlines, we ensure we get together as a team and have a great time at work. ‘Quick Talks’ by colleagues keep us abreast with the latest developments and varied experiences within the group. The ‘Creative Hours’, ‘Happy Hours’ and the ‘Between Minds’ sessions help us connect as a team and indulge in some fun and relaxing activities. Celebrations are an integral part of our work life, and are a hallmark of the Harbinger work culture. Right from welcoming new joiners to celebrating important milestones of employees and projects, acknowledging ‘Distinguished Contributors’ and ringing in the festivities—we do it all and that’s the best part of being at Harbinger. Employees are engaged in an environment that promotes learning, professional growth and fun.

A Dream Come True Moment


One of the happiest and most significant moments in my career will always be the felicitation ceremony when I received the ‘Distinguished Contributor’ award for my work at Harbinger. It is a pleasant surprise to have your efforts and work acknowledged so early in your association with an organization. But, that’s Harbinger! This has just motivated me to achieve more at work. I just hope that in my association with Harbinger, I address each opportunity to the best of my potential and build many more golden moments to be cherished for this lifetime.

One final message for you—the reader of this blog, Harbinger is a great place to work. Life at Harbinger is an interesting mix of work, learning and fun. If you want to innovate, partner and excel—do explore the work opportunities at Harbinger.


4 Ways to Say ‘No’ to Boring Compliance Courses


“That compliance course was fun!”

How often have you heard learners say that? Well, hardly ever.

Compliance courses are a way of educating employees on rules, regulations and organizational policies that apply to an employee’s day-to-day job responsibilities. Compliance training is the top priority for all organizations; however, it doesn’t usually excite the learners. The first thing that comes to one’s mind when they hear about online compliance courses is “long hours of content download.” These courses remain in the to-do list of employees until the deadline to take them looms large. Though organizations need to ensure that employees complete these trainings, employees do not enjoy taking the courses and hence effective knowledge transfer doesn’t happen.

So how do you make compliance courses exciting in a way that can make the employees ‘want’ to take them rather than ‘have’ to? Here are four easy strategies that you can use.

  1. Assess your Learners

One type of design approach won’t be suitable for all your learners. Some learners would have taken the course earlier so they may prefer to look at only the new content. On the other hand, some learners could be beginners and need to go through the entire training. So, to devise an appropriate learning strategy that works best, assess all learners before providing them with the content. You can do this by creating a pre-test which will help determine if a learner needs only a part of the course or the entire training. You can then categorize the information as ‘must-know,’ ‘good-to-know’ and ‘nice-to-know,’ and use this to create effective design and development strategies.

  1. Create Smaller Content Bites

Often compliance training intimidates learners because of its duration. Creating small, bite-sized, stand-alone chunks as micro-learning nuggets will give learners the freedom of starting and completing the training as per their convenience. Learners can take the course while commuting or as a breather between their routine work tasks.

  1. Make it Device Friendly

Today, when everything is “mobile”, you can’t limit online learning to desktops only. Employees prefer training material that can be accessed on-the-go. Making compliance training accessible on mobile devices will help ease out the burden associated with it; learners don’t necessarily need to fit the courses during their workday but can complete them in their spare time.

  1. Make it Fun!

Think of ways to make the courses engaging and fun for learners. You can use one or a combination of the following strategies:

  • Adding a Character: Include a character or an avatar in your compliance course to make it more relatable, interactive, and engaging. Choose a character that learners can relate to and use it effectively to guide through the training material.
  • Adding Videos: Create an engaging experience by integrating videos that enhance/supplement the content. The videos can have senior management reinforcing the value of complying with policies, or can be created using illustrations or images and stylized text with a powerful audio narration.
  • Storytelling: Who doesn’t like stories? Stories have the power to stimulate interest and retention even in the case of compliance courses. Based on the sensitivity of the topic, you could create a fictional story and add characters that relate to the topic as well as the learners. Your stories can be humorous, surprising or emotional. A well-written story has the power to hook learners to any kind of course.
  • Adding Scenarios: Scenarios provide a realistic context to learners to help rehearse the relevant skills in a simulated environment. Create challenging scenarios that learners can connect with and think about “how they would react” to a given situation.
  • Gamifying it: We all love playing games. You could create informative games for your compliance courses that are also relevant to the training context. Include activities and tasks for learners that they must perform, keeping in mind the organization’s policies and procedures. Creating compliance courses as games where learners take up new challenges, earn rewards or tokens to qualify to the next level will make learners look at these course as a fun activity.

These are some ways to make the online compliance courses more fun and interesting. Have you spiced up your compliance courses? What are some of the strategies that you used to make them engaging? Share your comments here.

Interactive Mini-Modules—An Interesting Approach to Micro-Learning

If you are connected to eLearning in any way, you probably have heard a lot about micro-learning. There is a lot being discussed in conferences, blogs, online forums and webinars on how to create effective micro-learning to meet millennials’ learning requirements.

When talking about micro-learning, most of us often think of videos, podcasts or simple text and image slide shows. How about creating an interactive micro-learning module? Well, it may sound like a huge task to infuse interactivity into a micro-learning burst. But it’s not as difficult and time-consuming as it sounds. I recently created an interactive mini-module and would like to share the experience with you.

One of my colleagues, Sonia, had written an interesting blog on “Why Stories Matter” to make learning more impactful and engaging. It inspired me to create a mini-module on how storytelling can be used as an effective instructional strategy. The objective of this module is to help an instructional designer/trainer/educator to get started with using storytelling in their instructions. To keep the module simple and brief, I planned to include an introduction to storytelling, a brief on how to create stories and some tips for effective storytelling.

After creating and chunking the content based on the learning objective, I turned to Raptivity, a rapid interactivity building tool, for the actual development of the module. I chose five interaction templates from Raptivity that suited the content. Then, I gathered the relevant images for each interaction and started customizing the interactions in Raptivity.

Interaction 1 - eBook

For introduction, I chose the eBook/flip book template and started with a short story to grab attention and then went on to explain what storytelling is.




Interaction 2 - Lesson

I created the second interaction using flash/flip cards template. It explained essential elements of the story, since learners could view the element names and relevant images on front side of the cards and their description on the flip side.



Interaction 3 - Buildup and Rollover

After knowing the story elements, the next step is to create a story comprising of those elements. The story mountain helps you plot stories in a proper format. I presented the story mountain in the third interaction using a build-up animation template. Learners can click on each part of the mountain to learn more about it.


Interaction 4 - Lesson

In the next interaction, I included some tips to create stories and use storytelling effectively. Here, I chose a lesson template, where tips appear with relevant images as an animation. Learners can revisit any tip by clicking on the number buttons.



Interaction 5 - Drag and Drop

Lastly, I wanted to include some knowledge check for learners to reinforce their learning. I chose a drag and drop template, where some dos and don’ts for effective storytelling are listed and learners need to classify them correctly. Learners get immediate feedback on dropping a phrase under a wrong category.


Interactive Mini-module - Linker course

Once the text and images were ready, it took me a couple of hours to develop each interaction. To put these interactions together as a module, I used the Raptivity Linker tool. Stringing these interactions together was just a matter of minutes and my mini-module on Storytelling was ready!

You can go through this mini-module here.

Using Raptivity and Raptivity Linker, I was able to develop this entire module, including the base content creation, in less than three days. The broad steps that I followed were:

  1. Decide on the learning objective and create a topic outline.
  2. Create and chunk the text into small information bursts.
  3. Choose interaction templates that best suit the text chunks.
  4. Gather/create relevant media assets according to chosen templates.
  5. Customize interaction templates using the text and media assets.
  6. String the interactions together. Alternatively, these interactions can also be used as standalone learning nuggets.

This approach could be a good way to quickly create micro-learning that offers streamlined, short bits of information along with interactivity and engagement. Have you created micro-learning? What approach did you follow and how easy or difficult it was to create it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.