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I am looking for ways to improve the likelihood people will perform mundane but required tasks. I am looking into gamification techniques.

One of the tasks for my organisation is to complete required short online learning courses (think Health and Safety, Security Awareness, Risk Management, Company culture). We often find it a struggle to ensure everyone completes the required courses on schedule.

Admittedly the courses themselves can be a little dry. I can't change that yet. However I want to find some ways to improve the rate at which people complete the tasks.

I am familiar with gamification techniques and concepts. I am hoping for some specific advice on which ones might work in this situation and what I need to keep in mind when implimenting them.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

tl;dr: Gamify the courses, not their completion

"the courses themselves can be a little dry"

Changing that should be your first and foremost concern.

While you might not be able to take any influence on the subject of the course, you sure can improve its presentation by way of

  • infographics,
  • user interaction,
  • formatting,

You can gamify dull tasks all you want – it won't have even nearly the same impact as working on making them bore the user less.

So, from a cost-to-benefit perspective, achievments and badges are the last thing you should be worried about right now.

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I would tend to agree. We are just pushing uphill until the core experience is fixed. The first time I attempted one of the courses on offer I was shocked at the poor UX. However, this being a large organisation, it is impossible for me to enact change in that area as it would suddenly require consultation with an infinite amount of stakeholders wanting to chip away at the ideas until we ended up with no change or worse. Cynical yes but recognisable to many. Unfortunately I need to attack this from the side. –  Jay Jun 14 '12 at 16:09
    
@Jay I figured that. For some reason, whenever any type of online course or survey software is needed, a programmer is tasked with absolutely everything from concept and design down to nitty-gritty SQL stuff. Being a programmer, he obviously cares (and knows) a lot more about his DB structure than about UI or UX (I won't even mention didactics). –  vzwick Jun 14 '12 at 16:16
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@Jay Make the stakeholders take a couple of courses. That often helps. –  vzwick Jun 14 '12 at 16:21
    
Agreed. Interestingly enough, most people game the system anyway. Skipping the learning part and going straight to the assessment. –  Jay Jun 14 '12 at 16:26
    
Could you make it less dry by adding some interesting "use case" stories?. For example, in Business classes, instead of just studying some facts, you'd look at a Case STudy. –  Clay Nichols Jul 16 '12 at 16:11
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The simplest approach might be to implement achievements. Some examples:

  • First course completed.
  • First course completed in each category.
  • All courses completed in a given category.
  • All courses completed.

Then you need a way that encourages people to show these achievements off to each other - now that could be the hard part as if the courses are mandatory people will regard completing them a chore and you don't really want to boast that you've completed a chore.

An alternative might be to tie having internet access at their desk computer (or some other perk/reward) to the completion of the courses:

  • Complete 10% of the courses => get internet access for half an hour at lunchtime
  • Complete 100% of the courses => get internet access for 2 hours to be taken at any time during the day.
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+1 for the online time reward idea –  Michael Jun 14 '12 at 12:52
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