Gamification and Learning

Oh boy, here comes that Gamification thing again…this time for learning.  If you are like me, you have been reading about Gamification for the last 4 years but see little of it in the enterprise.  For me, I always look to see if I can find examples and apply them to my work (learning) and my company.  And, without getting to in deep about Gamification (you can see some articles of Gamification in this little used community), I finally came across one that relates to our company.  But first, a little bit about gamification for those who are not that familiar:

Wikipedia defines it as the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.  If we dive a little deeper, the Gamification of Learning is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using video game design and game elements in learning environments.[1] The goal is to maximize enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning. 

Ok, now that is out of the way, let me share an example I came across on-line for an insurance company call center.  This is from Vicki Kunkel, CEO/Director of Digital Content & eLearning in her article What are the most effective uses of Gamification in Learning? (bolding is mine)

For example, last year I designed a gamification platform for an insurance call center where the business challenge was customer retention, the goal was one-call resolution, and the desired behavior changes were to have call center agents stop putting customers on hold, stop transferring calls, and strategically question and actively listen to customers. (Surveys showed hold times and transfers were the top hot buttons for customers.) Agents were split into teams, and team members earned points for each time they did not transfer a call or place a customer on hold. Double points were given if a customer complaint was resolved with one call.

The company used data to track the performance of each agent and a leaderboard was automatically updated daily. Teams received “super powers” attached to each level they achieved on the leaderboard. One super power was “Super Speed”, where they could go right to the front of any line (such as the cafeteria line). Another was “Force Field,” where winners could park in the executive-only, temperature-controlled underground garage. (This was a coveted power in both the cold winter months and the hot summer months!) The top super power was “Invisibility” – which was a day off with pay for the ultimate top performers.

For agents who found themselves on the bottom of the leaderboard, the platform would automatically populate short, two-minute “Power Boosters” (video eLearning modules), which gave tips on strategic questioning and listening skills to help agents better identify and solve customer issues on one call.

Three months after the gamification project was implemented, call hold times decreased by 17%; transfers were reduced by 52%, and customer retention increased 31% over pre-gamification levels.

As you can see, the results after three months were impressive…though I would be interested in how this sustained after, say 12 months or more.  I also thought it was an interesting point of having the “bottom agents” take short 2 minute video eLearning modules instead of the traditional classroom refresher.   Anyway, this was a quick blog to talk about Gamification and learning.  Hope to have more in the near future.


Using TED- Ed: Creating Lessons Worth Sharing

Have you ever had a blog idea only to run out of steam after the first or second paragraph?  Me too. So, to prove (good) ideas don’t die, I found this blog that I started writing in 2014 after I attended Elliott Masie’s Learning conference.  So, I decided to pick it up and finish it in 2016.  Here we go….

“The central mission of Ted-Ed is to capture and to amplify the voice of the world’s greatest teachers”

For this blog, I am going to talk about TED- Ed: Creating Lessons Worth Sharing. First of all, here is the synopsis:

One of the largest shifts in corporate learning has been the use of open content like TED videos. TED-Ed is a unique platform that allows designers, managers, subject matter experts or even workers to rapidly build “lessons” around TED or YouTube video segments by adding content, context, engagement and even a few assessment questions.

What is Ted Ed?

There are two types of TED-Ed lessons. The first, TED-Ed’s award-winning original lessons, represent collaborations between expert educators, screenwriters and animators. Each collaboration aims to capture and amplify a great lesson idea suggested by the TED community.

The second type, which I would like to talk about, are TED-Ed lessons that can be created by any website visitor, and involves adding questions, discussion topics and other supplementary materials to any educational video on YouTube. Both types of TED-Ed lessons are used regularly – in classrooms and homes – to introduce new topics to learners in an exciting, curiosity-inspiring way.

It’s pretty cool and easy to setup.  You can login in to the TED-Ed site, create an account and begin.  Once you pick a video, it sets up helps you create a lesson around the video with 5 stages:
1. Watch: Yep, you watch the video
2. Think:  After participants watch the video, it allows you to create up to 15  multiple choice/open answer questions about the video or topic at hand
3. Did Deeper:  The instructor can have a summary of the video or points of interest they want to call out from the video.
4. Discuss: Invite users to discuss with one another on the video, questions or the instructor summary.  You can even bring in old discussions to this section
5. …And Finally:  Here you can leave your students with closing thoughts

And that’s it.  You can pull any TED video and create a lesson plan around it all in one neat and tidy place.

Microlearning and Blogs

I was planning on writing a new blog about “learning nuggets”, but instead found a new phrase for this:  Microlearning.  OK, so, let’s turn to Wikipedia to get ourselves a definition:

Microlearning deals with relatively small learning units and short-term learning activities. Generally, the term “microlearning” refers to micro-perspectives in the context of learning, education and training.

Great Mark.  Real interesting.  What’s the point?

OK, well, I am speaking with some folks soon to discuss blogging; and when I say blogging, I mean they are starting to blog themselves.  But, blogging is not easy for everyone.  Heck, I have written over 40 blogs here and sometimes I still have a hard time getting my ideas down.  But, let ‘s try to take the pressure away from this process.  First of all, don’t worry about writing the perfect blog (it can’t be done), don’t worry about people liking it (they probably don’t like your shirt your wearing anyway so you can’t please everyone), don’t worry about being perfect – spelling errors are seen as a positive in blogs as it looks like you wrote off the top of your head (see what I did there).

But the biggest worry or struggle I hear from would be bloggers, is “what do I write?”.  A great question which sometimes can feel like quite the dilemma.  But, let’s simplify it with microlearning (blah – it just doesn’t sound as good as learning nuggets).  If you are ever stuck about what to blog, but you want to blog, think of sharing a learning.  But it does not even have to be work related.  Heck, I wrote a blog about finding Mark Doty.).

Listen, it does not need to be an earth shattering blog.  But, we are a large organization with a lot of smart people (but not this guy).  We should be leveraging our intellectual capital every chance we get.

So think about it for second.  What did you learn today?  Yesterday?  Last week that was a microlearning? Maybe a quick tip on e-mail.  An interaction with a vendor?  Feedback from a colleague?  Something your read on the interweb?  And maybe, just maybe, you read an awesome blog and want to agree, disagree or share it with others.

Any hey, I didn’t even touch upon easy other blog topics like praise, questions, ideas and wild and crazy innovations.

So there you go.  I look forward to hearing more about your microlearning.


Recently I was reading about learning trends for 2014 and I came across the following article: .  To save you some time, they mentioned that three trends they see shaping learning are:

  1. MOOCs
  2. Digital badges
  3. Competency-based learning

I thought today I would blog about MOOC’s as I recently completed a course on Gamification through the site Coursera.

First of all – what is a MOOC?.  Acorrding to Wikipedia, a Massive Open Online Course is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs).  I am going to use the course I mentioned above I took through Coursera to explain my experience.

The Gamification course was 10 weeks in length where each week you had to watch a lecture (usually broken into 8-10 pieces) that was about 1-1.5 hours each week.  The grading was as follows:

  • 4 Homework Quizzes (multiple choice) — 35% of final grade
  • 3 Written Assignments (peer assessed) — 5%, 10%, and 20%, for a total of 35% of final grade
  • Final Exam (multiple choice, covering the entire course with emphasis on the second half) — 30% of final grade

During the 10 weeks, there were also discussion forums available for people to ask questions and participate (there were10,953 total discussion board posts), plus some Google + Hangouts with the Professor.  I found it to be a great experience…and slightly odd to be in something so “massive”.  Here are some statistics from the course.

  • 78,000 registered participants
  • 46% said it was their first MOOC
  • Student Demographics:
    • 169 countries represented (US = 24%)
    • 62% male
    • 77% working or otherwise not in school
    • 83% have a university degree; 43% have an advanced degre
  • 51,341(66% of registrants) accessed the course
  • 4,510 (5.8% of registrants) scored 70+ (which is higher than the average for MOOC’s on 4-5%)

Although at the end of the day 5.8% passed, this is a higher score than the average 3-5%.  But this course was free, available to anyone (though the course was only offered in English), and pretty informative.  And really, after 10 weeks, over 4,000 people completed all the lectures, assignments, tests and passed the course.  Pretty impressive looking at it that way.

BTW – in case you were wondering, I was one of the 4,510 that passed the course. 😉

Overall, it was a positive experience for me and I would take another one in the future.

So, anyone else here take a MOOC?  Or want to take one?

Give me my Status Updates…with e-mail

Every vendor (worth their salt) is now rushing out status updates products to catch the “Twitter Wave”. And that is great and status updates are a fantastic way to connect, build relationships, find people/content, etc.
But unfortunately, within the enterprise, e-mail is King (status updates are like the 2nd Prince from the throne). And if you want adoption for new software and change how people collaborate, you have a better chance going to a place where people already are during the day – their inbox.
I actually still know people who sometimes do not open their browser all day. And their instant messaging is running in their e-mail client. At least give users the option of having it there so you can reach a wider audience. That way, change is right in front of people. Make it easy. Make the change enjoyable. And let them make the change.

The New Killer App…Your Inbox

With recent releases of Twitter in Microsoft Outlook, Facebook e-mail, Google Buzz in Gmail, plus the existing Lotus Notes sidebar, Zimbra Desktop,  and what Mozilla is doing with Raindrop it seems that the new killer app is…the inbox.   For years we have heard the term killer app and have installed new applications or bookmarked new aggregates to get all of our information in one place.  But, no matter what we did, we always ended up back in our inbox…cc’ing everyone in our address book.  Why?  A few reasons:

E-mail is easy
The learning curve is so easy, that people are hooked instantly.  And it is easier to start building onto an existing platform that people like and use instead of a new experience or application.

No specific company own’s e-mail
As mentioned above, any company can create their own e-mail client…but it still does the same function as all the others.   Thus, no matter which country you live in, language you speak, or religious beliefs (kidding), there is an e-mail client for you.

E-mail has a bigger market share than Twitter, Facebook, YouTube put together.
Maybe they weren’t first to market for connecting people (the telephone beat them to the punch) but it has grown so popular that if you think about it, when was the last time you met someone who did not have an e-mail address?  For goodness sakes, I have three of my own. Robert Scoble has one.  Don’t you?

People will let you tweak it
Sure, go ahead and add Twitter or Google Buzz to my in-box.  It doesn’t necessarily mean I am going to use it.  But, that is the beauty of it.  It is just there, waiting for you.  And if you get curious, or your friends/family/work starts to use it, well, you can take a peak because you already have your e-mail open.  And if you can’t figure out how to DM your mother…well, you can send her an e-mail.  But the power here is you are not forcing people to start communicating in a totally different way or application…you are letting them gradually start to use these tools.

E-mail Content
In an e-mail, you can be formal/informal, long/short, add images/video, put links, add emoticons, write a novel, sell products, and be private/public, communicate with one/thousands of people all in one application.  No other tool can do it all.  Sure, Twitter you can reach a million people with one Tweet…but you can’t add a video, an emoticon, picture of the vacation and a excel spreadsheet.  But Twitter has it’s use…that is why it is a good ‘add-on’ to e-mail.

So the killer app is out there…and everyone is using it…so tell me again why we want everyone to abandon it?  That is why I believe that you will see more and more integration of other tools into the in-box. Or whatever else it will be called in the future.

Saving Hollywood

Photo from jorgemir via flickr

Photo from jorgemir via flickr

Poor Hollywood.  Still can’t figure out how to stop pirating and make money off the internet.  But I believe there are may untapped avenues that Hollywood could take to generate money and not stop…rather to encourage pirating of their shows.  And here is how:

Embedded Advertising within your shows

OK, I agree this is not revolutionary but here me out as I don’t think it has been looked at through this lens.  And I believe that the infrastructure is already in place…it is just bringing them all together (along with a revamped Hollywood).  Let me walk you through an example and then I will break down the three pieces that are need for this to succeed.  I will use Amazon for the example below (though the other players above could do this just as easily):

You are watching a TV show/Hollywood movie and you want to know what kind of leather jacket the main character is wearing. Put your mouse over the jacket (or character), click and (the scene continues) on the right hand side of the screen (think of the Hulu setup with the black on the left and right side, or the full screen is pushed over slightly to avoid having the text block the scene) and information detailing what that character is wearing appears on the screen. If the jacket is from The Gap, on this click, Amazon gets a eyeball click $$ payment. What it also allows is for the user to click to the 1) Gap website 2) Gap store; potentially purchasing that jacket immediately or 3) since this is Amazon, go directly to the Amazon store to buy the jacket (do everything in one place).  Additionally, to make the experience better, the viewing public can engage a setting in the video player that enables when you click, the information is sent to your “Viewing Basket” so when the show is over, you can review the product information and shop without interrupting the entertainment experience. And for a mobile strategy, you could have a GPS awareness that could notify you know when you are within 1 mile of a Gap Store that has that product in stock.  And, since this is Amazon, you would not need to be a big retailer as you can setup an Amazon store.

1. Infrastructure:  The Content is Being Broadcast Already

On-line, there are many places where content is available to stream or download such as Hulu, You Tube, Amazon Video and of course iTunes to name a few.  Great.  They all have a purchasing system setup so the public already trusts their purchases.  Most have also done a good job of making it dead simple for the public to view, sample and purchase a large variety of content.

2. Embedding Technology Exists

YouTube is already going down the path with Annotations but I prefer the technology by a company like VideoClix as it makes for  a nicer viewing experience.  Great, we now have both the infrastructure and the technology.

3. Hollywood…and their willingness to change.

This is the real place where the money (and the change) happens and has the potential to change the whole pre-production of the Television and Movie industry.  And that is the key point – pre-production.  It changes/influences not only the costumes/clothes for actors, but furniture, food, dishes, etc. You can auction off every single thing that will be on the screen to people who want product placement before production. For example, if your star is listening to an ipod, you can hover over it and find out what songs they are listening to – link straight to iTunes/Amazon mp3 and buy the song. People are sitting in front of the computer, why not have them be interactive?

How about “Lost”?

A question I get a lot is “what about a show like Lost?”  Well, besides the obvious Dharma swag they should be selling (who wouldn’t want to crack open a Dharma Initiative beer on the weekend in their Maintenance overalls?), there is an opportunity to grab your audience in so many other ways.  Lost followers (me included) love the mysteries of the island.  So, why not embed more into the shows?  For example, during the show, what if you could click on the hatch and walk around and look closely at the books on the shelf, records and past training tapes.  You could have a show within a show.  Possibly sell membership to see be able to check out different parts of the island yourself.

Remember:  there is a difference watching things on your television versus your computer.  On a computer, you have a keyboard and mouse in front of you…rotting away.  Utilize it.  And I believe  eventually that all television controllers will act like laser pointers for our screens.

A New Distribution Model = Open Season for Spammers?

Of course there can be negatives such as people putting in spam links, virus links, etc.  But if movies play on the Amazon site, then there is trust in the links.  But looking to the future, viewing movies in the browser using such as the soon to be released Google OS or the updated HTML 5, the browser can detect the source (such as the FireFox 3 secures sites check).  Peer to peer sharing will now be embraced by all involved as it will help get content get distribute more widely.

So, there you go television and film industry honcho’s (Or Amazon).  A whole new model waiting to be tapped into for profit.  Are you ready to try a new business model or are you too busy locking everything down and suing your customers?