Gamified training is taking its share of lumps these days as the hype burns off and reality sets in. However, businesses like SAP have discovered a formula for success in its Mobile g-learning course that not only engages participants, but attracts new ones on an ongoing basis. The secret lies in laser-focused content and interactivity. I recently spoke with Gordon Muehl, Senior Vice President of Product Security at SAP. Gordon leads the Architecture, Communication, Education, Security (ACES) team that developed the company’s Mobile g-learning course using SAP Workforce Performance Builder.
“Our objective is to engage mobile developers in a collaborative yet competitive fashion by focusing on hands-on learning immediately relevant to their job responsibilities. We want to give people time to learn and fail, and try again as often as they need. We are focused on building worldwide networks for the continuous growth of developers.”
Online learning detractors point to historically high attrition rates. In contrast, Muehl said that the Mobile g-learning sessions help keep employees motivated to complete courses through a combination of rewards and peer pressure. “When you’re in a learning team, you complete tasks together and share the rewards. There’s real motivation to continue as you watch and compete with other teams.”
Interactivity is central to the Mobile g-learning training experience. Participants have 24/7 access to course materials along with the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and content experts at any time through integrated chat forums and the Mobile g-learning SAP Jam Group.
Developer feedback to date has been extremely positive. I interviewed members of a recent winning team, “The Blade Runners,” who hailed from SAP Labs in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil (pictured above), and they were impressed with not only the fun experience, but also the sophistication of G-learning. “I’ve taken online training courses that had some elements of gamification but nothing as fancy as this,” said Felipe Plets.
As for lessons learned, these developers advocated for more quizzes focused on immediate knowledge application.
“We’d have a quiz following a 15 to 20-minute video presentation. That’s too much information to learn at once, and it’s too long to wait until the end of all the sections to start developing. It would be better to let us develop something after each topic, iterating small parts throughout the course along with something big at the end,” says Matias Schertel, one of the other winning team members.
But not every group was able to function as a well-coordinated team, which was demotivating for some participants. While they may have done a great job as individuals, in some cases their teammates failed to participate bringing down the entire team. Following the pilot training, SAP adjusted the award point system to minimize this issue in the future.
Perhaps the overarching take-away is that employee training will never be one-size-fits-all. That’s why SAP’s curriculum offers a range of formats geared to participant preferences as well as the content itself. For example, there are plans to introduce non-gamified online courses for employees who don’t find gamification attractive. Also, to complement its own courses, the company is offering external training, including access to over 2,000 courses from Lynda.com, a well-known online software video training library. Future plans may include short videos that allow developers to share their knowledge and achievements company-wide. Gamified or not, training that stays focused on how people learn best across all formats, is destined to succeed.
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