July 27th, 2014 E-Learning

game-iconFrom a very young age we are taught new information as a means to avoid punishment, or earn a reward. This starts when we are small children to learn basic social skills and continues through grade school in the form of formal grades on coursework.

There is nothing wrong with this approach. It works and it taps into the core of human nature.

Rewards based learning is more than just offering incentives though, it can actually be quite involved. Essentially, you can design your rewards to reinforce not only the content, but also to encourage growth in behavior and collaboration.

Rewards Driving ELearning

Offering rewards in a live classroom setting is nothing new. It is no surprise then that this concept has worked its way into elearning as well, often most prevalent through gamification initiatives.

Gamification is the use of game thinking and mechanisms in the effort to teach an important concept or skill. In its simplest form, it can take the form of points or badges rewarded for receiving a certain score on a quiz.

Tying this into the reward concept would be setting up a program that allows the individuals who earn these points and badges to obtain a desired outcome.

For example, in a corporate context this could take the form of rewarding employees with points and badges for taking a certain number of online training hours – and then allowing them to purchase an extra vacation day.

As you can imagine, this would be a rather enticing scenario for many. Assuming you have in place proper evaluation metrics to safeguard against people “ghosting” training hours, then the benefits are good for both the employer and the workforce.

Of course this is just one (rather simple) scenario. Still, it is no surprise then that programs like Credly are continuing to gain in popularity. Using gamification and rewards can be a very powerful tool when used properly.

If you have an elearning program in place, perhaps you should assess whether a gamification and reward program makes sense for your organization. Done correctly and you will likely see an increase in course completion rates, employee skills, and job satisfaction.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


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There actually is a drawback to that kind of reinforcement: it is counterproductive to reward a behavior that already has a motivation behind. The new reinforcement can replace the initial drive, making reward-dependant what used to be a spontaneous activity.

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