Did you ever find yourself completely engrossed in an activity that made you lose track of time and your surroundings? And, did you experience a high or happiness from this experience?
If your answer to these questions is yes, you have experienced the “State of Flow,” also popularly known as being “in the zone.”
Most of us have experienced a zen-like focus or the “state of flow,” as we call it while playing video games for hours together or binge-watching our favorite show. But do you remember the last time you were learning something eagerly and felt like you were in that “uninterrupted zone”? I guess not!
We always need an external motivator to push ourselves to learn, sometimes to pass a test, and at other times to gain a reward. But what if we could make learners achieve the state of flow by harnessing the power of gamification?
This article will discuss how gamified learning can help your learners achieve the flow and why it is essential to make the learning process engaging with game elements.
What is the State of Flow?
Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, the Hungarian-American psychologist, also known as the “father of flow,” was the author and founder of the “flow” theory.
The flow theory is acquiring the most productive state of “effortless attention.” It states that when you are dealing with something challenging that you nonetheless can handle, you enter a state of mind, a particular flow, where you are captivated, happy, and eager, all at once.
Although this concept was not something new or distinctive, it has been used to better understand users and their activity. When applied to learning, it has the potential to keep learners engaged by improving their performance and increasing their productivity.
How to Achieve Flow with Gamification?
Gamification is not just a trend anymore. It is widely used across all industries, and education technology (ed-tech) is no exception.
Gamification is being used within digital learning and is also helping students better engage in academic concepts, course material, research, and more. It puts the learner at the center of the learning process and transitions them from passive to active learning.
Let’s look at how to achieve flow with gamification.
#1 Establish direction and clear goals.
Imagine being confused or uninformed about what’s coming next while performing a specific task. Would you be motivated to finish it?
In the same way, not setting clear goals and directions for your learner will leave them disinterested and demotivated to continue their learning journey. If they are well-informed about what is coming their way, they will most likely be motivated to achieve the next milestone in their journey.
A student’s motivation is highly connected to having a clear picture of the required skills and research they will need to develop to perform and succeed in the course or any module.
Display progress with levels and progress bars
Levels are the most common way to help track a learner’s progress. They can unlock a new level whenever they overcome a challenge and complete a new task. Unlocking new levels will allow the learner to access the new content and continue the flow.
Progress bars keep learners on track by displaying how far they have come in their learning journey and how far they need to go to reach their next milestone.
These elements can help learners visualize their progress and push them further to unlock a new level. To achieve a great flow, you can start with the basics and gradually increase the difficulty level as the learner progresses in a module or course.
#2 Provide Instant Feedback
People today expect instant gratification. We are used to our questions and concerns being answered instantly, acting on that knowledge immediately and getting feedback as quickly as possible. The same is the case with the learners too!
If the feedback is given instantly and efficiently, it will positively affect the learner’s progress in their journey. This instant feedback will motivate them to stay in the flow and maintain continuity and consistency in their learning.
This is where extrinsic motivators such as points, badges, and rewards come into play!
Path to Mastery with points, badges, and rewards
Points are a measurable display of achievements. Earring points motivate learners to stay in the flow. It makes them feel rewarded and instills a sense of accomplishment while performing the task. They also make them feel like they are mastering the module and act as compensation for their effort.
Badges are used to identify skills and expertise within learning. They provide immediate feedback and help learners stay motivated to progress and finish the modules that don’t interest them.
A certain number of points accumulated together can also lead to a new badge. Because these badges are rewarded upon individual performance, they reinforce positive behaviors and help keep the flow intact.
Rewards are a great indicator of growth and progress. Gamification is all about encouraging learners to carry out positive behaviors and actions.
Positive and negative rewards impact our decision to complete a task. Learners can be rewarded through medals, certificates, points, etc. when they reach the desired goal.
#3 Skill Balance and Perceived Difficulty
Can you play a game from the 4th or 5th level without understanding or playing the basic levels? Can you understand a show without watching the pilot or the first episode?
Similarly, a learner must understand the fundamental concepts thoroughly and gain the confidence to keep going. If the challenge is too complex and difficult, it will overwhelm them, leaving them confused and obstructing the flow.
And in another case, if the learner’s skillset is much more advanced than the course structure, they will lose interest in no time.
Both these states will break the flow; hence, it is essential to strike a good balance within your gamified learning environment.
Quizzes and Trivia to test their skillset
Quizzes can be a fun, engaging part of any course or learning module. Learners who enjoy quizzes and other trivia games perform better on tests requiring them to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject—provided they are confident in their skills.
Frequent, short quizzes that test a learner’s understanding of the module they just covered can keep them in flow by providing immediate feedback about their performance.
#4 Reduce Distractions
How often do you check your phone while performing a specific task?
As we speak about staying in the zone or achieving the flow, our mobile phones or easy access to the internet are the main reasons behind blocking the flow.
Although flow can naturally block out all distractions, keeping all the mobile devices and technology away from the learner will ensure they are in an uninterrupted state of flow.
Helping learners stay in a distraction-free zone for an extended period can increase their productivity and overall achievement.
Leaderboards nurture the social aspects of points and badges. They foster competition and reward learners based on their accomplishments.
Competition (with self or other learners) can fuel human ambition. One of the best ways to boost learners’ motivation is by incorporating leaderboards and instilling a sense of competition to stay in the flow.
We all, at some point, have experienced the state of flow, and it is indeed a very satisfying experience that leaves us feeling productive and happy.
Gamification is a powerful strategy to ensure that the learners achieve a state of flow by making their experience as interactive and engaging as possible. This state helps them stay more focused and improves their overall learning and performance.
Hope this article has given you good insights into achieving flow with gamified learning. And if you are looking forward to implementing it, we would be happy to help you.
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