I am a student at SAP for 3 years now. I worked for several departments in my semester breaks and in the last one I was part of the SAP Education team for Middle and Eastern Europe (MEE). While working there I wrote my bachelor thesis on gamification of the SAP Learning Hub.
In the following I will describe my experience with gamification and how it will be used in the Learning Room. Concluding I will write about the results of the interviews with users and the resulting changes to our first ideas.
First of all I had to clarify what gamification is and how it can be used an E-Learning environment.
Gamification is as per definition the use of game elements in a non-gaming environment. So there is no game but an application or website using game elements like points, levels, badges and much more.
These elements are there for supporting the purpose of the app or website and motivating the users to use them more often and frequently. Most people know the example of a frequent flyer program; you book your flights at one airline and collect points for each mile you fly with them. These collectable points can be redeemed for material goods like a suitcase or even, if you collect a lot of them, for a flight ticket or upgrade to business class. If you are a member in such a program you are more likely to buy your tickets at the specific airline, even if the tickets are slightly more expensive than at another airline. Social networks are also full of gamification elements to animate their users to add more personal data like to fill out their profile or add a profile picture. They use a status bar to show the user what percentage of their profile is filled and suggest actions to reach more percent. You see this e.g. in your LinkedIn profile. Also wearables like the new Apple watch lets you collect badges if you reach your daily fitness goal or break your personal record for burned calories. You also can challenge yourself in the competition with others. All this examples show that gamification is triggering underlying motivations like status, curiosity, self-efficiency or having fun.
So the idea of gamification is nothing new and by now widely used around the globe. But gamification is not about taking only points and levels and put them on your application! It is far more complicated than that if it should be effective. You have to analyze your customers first. Who are they, why do they visit your site or use your app. What do you want them to do on the site or app and how can you support them to use it more efficient.
In the SAP Learning Hub SAP customers can learn everything about a SAP product and after that do a certification to validate the learning effort. The customers are from different companies, are partners or just people who like to extend their knowledge. Also the age varies a lot, some are young graduates who just started their work and never used anything else than a computer to write and work. Then there are customers in their 30ies and 40ies, they may are experienced with computers and are still motivated to push their career. And last but not least the experienced customers, which are not naturally in the habit of computers but also like to learn from any place in the world.
These very different customers are united by their wish to learn, and that's where gamification needs to start. It should support the learning process and make it easier to use an online learning tool. Another important part is the social part of the Learning Hub. For over 60 curricula around SAP Product knowledge there are Learning Rooms available where the members not only find every information needed but also a community of fellow learners and an experienced trainer for each room to talk to, ask questions and exchange experience.
Using gamification there has the main goal to increase motivation & engagement of the learners. The goal is that the SAP Learning Hub is used more often, more users add their content and share experiences - and that everyone gets more value out of it.
For the gamification we use points, levels, missions, badges and rules. The rules define for which activity a user gets how many points. An example for a rule is if the user writes a blog. He then earns 3 experience points (XP). If he collects a few more points he will reach the next level. The missions are a collection of several tasks that have to be fulfilled to solve the mission. If the user solves a mission he gets more XPs than for a rule and also is awarded with a badge to show the achievement in his profile for other users.
Each User has an achievement page in his profile where he can see his already collected achievements, his ongoing missions, available missions, his collected XPs and his current level. For the beginning we created nine levels, with each level it gets more difficult to reach the next one.
Achievements on the homepage with a short overview of points, current level and open missions
Achievements in the profile with detailed information about all Gamification Elements
Also the user should interact more often with others. This could be done by writing a wiki entry, liking other blogs or answering questions of others. All these activities are rewarded with points. One of our missions is the posting of a first blog. The user has to write it, post it and should receive at least three likes. With this mission he collects 5 XP and the “My first blog”-Badge. Besides the rewards a new mission gets activated. The new mission, called Blogparade2, is an extension of the first one. For this mission the user has to write and publish 5 blogs and receive 5 likes on each of them. This mission is more difficult and is therefore worth 10 XP.
My bachelor thesis explained the concept as outlined above - as well as the evaluation of the concept. For the evaluation I created a PowerPoint mock-up - which I used to guide learners through the main use cases we want to use in gamification. I interviewed more than 15 learners and learning room moderators.
The main results were:
New names for the levels (Newbie can be an offending level name)
New missions should come from time to time, these should be Learning Room specific
New rules : experience points for uploading a video and for grading (closing) an answer
Earned badges should show where they were earned
Mission for first question someone asks
Learning Room leads could ask challenging questions
So all in all it was super fascinating to learn what gamification is in theory, what people expect from it and how it is implemented in the learning environment. Most interviewees feared that it is mandatory to use the gamification elements. Some interviewees did not like the term “Newbie” for someone who just started to use the Learning Hub. The wording can be offensive for some but for others it is totally fine. So I’ve learned, if you use the software worldwide, you have to check with people from different regions. There will be major differences in the understanding of words and you have to be careful to not offend anyone. Another major result was that many people have already great ideas how software can be extended. As one designs new applications or software extensions, always check with your customer. You will gain a lot of great ideas and get to know the customer better, which helps you to design your software better and your customers will be happy if they see that their ideas are valued.
Status right now: Starting to set up a pilot with the first Learning Rooms.
Here you register for free version of the Learning Hub: