Learner Ludens

Social learning with Gamification

Social learning is about how people connect on a daily basis at work, how they collaborate, have conversations and learn from each other. Joint questions are asked, ideas are shared and problems are solved. Implicit knowledge and experience of your co-workers is made explicit.

This was already in 1940 discovered by professor Reginald Revans in Britain when working in the mining industry. He observed that if managers shared each other's experience and asked each other questions about this, productivity increased by 30%. Later he created a formula: L = P + Q, where L is learning, P Programmed knowledge with simulations and Q Questioning ( to understand what people hear, see or feel).
This "action learning" is based on social constructivism, a perspective on education, where learning is seen as an active process of knowledge acquisition, in which the knowledge is created and shared with others.

Especially adults often learn by interacting with each other through and by doing so obtain new knowledge and skills. Within a community at work you can show your co-workers that you acknowledge their knowledge, appreciate it and then engage to bring it to higher levels and innovation.
To establish with this way of learning even more engagement and fun Gamification can be deployed. Gamification addresses the natural motivation actors of people, such as competition, performance, status, self-expression and communication.

In learning with gamification for example you will be rewarded if you completed specific learning activities or levels. Regarding social learning especially contributions or learning products of co-learners will be rewarded. Rewards can be visualized by points (leaderboards), badges (medals), progress bars and so on.

Below I will go into more detail about two specific researches in which social learning using gamification has given proven results.


The power of good peer feedback

Virtual Action Learning (VAL) is a method already successfully applied and used for years. Recently a PhD research about the success of this methodology in 2016 has been completed. This method of social learning aligns with state of the art online - and social media driven - technology. Rich and interactive media as well is often used in the VAL learning design.
Decisive in VAL is an active learning community, in which the learning activities are related to constructive feedback and reflection between students and tutors. One of the conclusions of this research indicates that the online part of the learning process -especially peer feedback –is positively correlated to a better learning process and results as the learner and educational institute experienced. The more active (and more) peer-feedback learners and tutors provide to each other's products, the better they conceive their learning journey and results. Tutors determined higher standards of quality in the feedback itself during the progression of a learning course. Another great outcome of the research: 50% less review time for teachers using this specific method! The personal attention, which you not only receive and deserve as a student but also provide to you co-learners is of great importance. Personalization by engagement and Collaboration!


Gamification encourages peer-to-peer feedback even without online moderator

Another study, "Cognitive Presence in Online Learning" shows that peer to peer feedback in online communities – when properly designed and applied – shows promising results.
Of all measured feedback 35% consisted using higher learning skills by the participants. Think about skills like building up a meaningful discourse, critical thinking, challenging each other, having authentic and meaningful contributions, reflection and actual knowledge building.
A surprise in this specific research is that it turned out to make no significance difference if a real person online moderator was present or not. Gamification made the difference. Rewarding with learning experience points, badges, leaderboard, etc. was the big enabler of successful peer-to-peer feedback.


So what makes impact in social learning?

CheckGood visible room for posts and messaging in assignments and activities. Participants will be motivated to describe, reflect, respond and contribute regarding subjects or topics.

CheckAsk the right questions! Not only in designing assignments, but in responding as well. Think carefully about who are the participants.

CheckAllow lean responding via peer-review by learners, tutors and moderators.

CheckEncourage each other to participate!

CheckUse rich interactive multimedia

CheckUse gamification: completion points, experience points (leaderboards), badges, progress bars and so on.

CheckAllow pace, place and time independent learning for each participant.

CheckAllow face to face incorporated in the learning design meetings if needed


Sources and inspiration

Reg Regans, ABC of Action Learning
Baeten, J. J. M. (2016). The Power of Peer Feedback. Research on the Learning Process within Virtual Action Learning
Heather Kanuka, Cognitive Presence in Online Learning
The 2-Sigma Problem: Ben Betts at TEDxWarwickED