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Hooking Your e-Learners – Who Else Wants Fanatical Learners? January 5, 2007

Posted by Ben Craigo in Engaging e-Learners, Gaming and Simulation, Intructional Design, Trends.
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What if there was a way to not only increase the engagement factor of your e-Learning courses, but also increased the completion rate by learners, increased amount of what was learned and motivated them to seek out to take even more courses?

There’s a model in the online gaming community that does just that…

Scoble, a technology blogger, has a post about how Microsoft will be able to keep its edge on the likes of Google: Achievement Points.  He references this article at GameDaily that talks about the rage of Microsoft’s Achievement Points in the XBox gaming community.

Some of the highlights from the GameDaily article…

There’s nothing new about rewards programs….

But, in 2005, the marketing folks at Microsoft had a brainstorm. The Xbox 360 console had just been released and, to sell more games, they decided they would start doling out “achievement points.” Play enough games, collect enough points, and you could cash them in for … nothing, nothing at all. What a concept!

Here’s how the points system works: Microsoft mandates that every developer of Xbox 360 games “hide” 1,000 achievement points in every retail game and 200 in every casual game. Players earn points for certain successes in the game. The more challenging the task, the more points are added to the player’s profile — or Gamerscore — which is visible to anyone who cares to look.

“The idea was that every time you’d unlock an achievement in a game, you’d be rewarded with a little badge or icon that was added to your gaming profile,” he [Aaron Greenberg, Group Product Manager for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live at Microsoft] says. “As your Gamerscore increased, so would your reputation within the community.”
This has caught on like wildfire.  Gamers are playing games longer, exploring all aspects of them and playing games that they normally wouldn’t.  And they will put in the time just to get more “pride points.”

But this really isn’t all that new – just a different format.  It’s based on being recognized and respected by your peers.  It’s similar to the rankings given to auctioneers by bidders on e-Bay and Half.com. 

It’s also similar the business model for Muhammad Yunus’, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Grameen Bank.  Microcredit is given to the poorest of the poor who have no financial security and who have no other options.  Do they pay their loans back?  From their FAQ…

“The repayment rate is between 95 and 98 percent. In fact, it is higher than the repayment rate of student loans and credit card debts in the United States.” 

Why?  Reputation.

I don’t see why this couldn’t be applied in e-Learning.  This is a no-brainer to the gaming and simulation side of the house.  For the more traditional e-Learning courses it provides an additional carrot for learners to reach for.

I does takes a holistic approach to how it would be applied, tracked and valued.  It takes a little more effort.  But what a great way to introduce a bit of viral marketing into your e-Learning strategy.

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