the gRumpy cat of instRuctionaL design

I wonder, sometimes, if I’m seen as the grumpy cat of instructional design.  And if not of instructional design, perhaps the conversation of gamification in instructional design.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’ve got some opinions on the subject.  While I understand intrinsic and extrinsic motivators and that some people are motivated by slick looking video game type elements, my concerns about gamification continue to be:

  1. Gamification has been shown to cause an initial lift in completions.  This assumes that my role, as a learning professional, is to get people to “do wbt” and to increase completions.  I would strongly argue that my role is to increase learning and competency and that completions are not a strong indicator of that – behavioural change is.
  2. Gamification has absolutely no research that supports sustainability.  The initial lift in completions, assuming that’s what you’re going for, is well documented. But the research seems to indicate that it isn’t sustained long term.   Again, this leads back into #1, where I think our role is to change behaviour, not entertain.  Entertaining learners is not sustainable.
  3. Gamification is not usually discussed as design.  It continues to be discussed as development – badges, leaderboards, etc.  If it was a design consideration, and we were tapping into design elements that made people want to change their behaviour, this would be an entirely different conversation.  And when we do discuss this, no one calls it gamification, because we’re usually just talking “good design” and don’t need a stupid buzz word to get us interested.

But I haven’t explained my grumpy cat comment.  Every once in a while I get an email or message about a gamification webinar or class and someone asks me if I want to go.  As I type “no” or just think “no” and delete the message, I picture myself as the gamification grumpy cat and wonder if others do as well.

So what is the future of gamification and instructional design?  Are we measuring completions and entertaining our learners or are we seeking to change behaviour to meet business objectives?    Can we do both?  Should we?


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