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The Gamification of mLearning (Part 3 of 3)

by Karl Kapp

September 25, 2013

Research

by Karl Kapp

September 25, 2013

“A mobile gamification platform allows the learner to access the content from anywhere and provides a portable gamification experience that learner’s access when convenient. The combination of mobile and gamification is helping to educate sales professionals without pulling them from the all-important job of selling.”

Cricket Communications is the seventh-largest wireless-communications provider in the United States. Founded in 1999 to make wireless phone service more affordable to more people, Cricket offers economical, pre-paid, unlimited voice-and-data-rate plans that do not require a contract.

Karl Kapp’s 3-part article on gamification

Today, Cricket Communications serves more than 5.8 million wireless customers in the US, nearly double its subscriber total in 2006. Third-party agreements with Walmart and Radio Shack allow it to serve customers in areas where it does not have stores. In 2011, Cricket introduced MUVE Music and became the first US wireless carrier to offer customers unlimited music as part of a rate plan.

Challenge

Cricket Communications was seeking improved and more innovative ways to reach the sales professionals working in its retail locations by introducing mobile-enabled learning games to their existing platform.

The initiative, coined Mobile Cricket University (or “Mobile CU”), launched in summer 2012. John Moxley, Cricket’s director of leadership development, spearheaded the launch. John is an avid mobile-device and app enthusiast. He has 20-plus years of experience implementing next-generation organizational development and sales training programs across a variety of industries. He is also heavily involved in the evaluation and use of popular content authoring tools and methods for producing mobile-friendly courseware to support untethered learning communities.

The central learning objective for Mobile CU was to deliver and measure the effectiveness of product, service, systems training, and professional development without requiring Cricket’s sales professionals to leave the sales floor. Cricket’s leadership team also believed that introducing game mechanics would improve representative engagement and knowledge retention, and reinforce key principles and behaviors. The gamification platform was CellCast, created by OnPoint Digital. This platform has the tools and incentive features learners need to quickly complete assignments, gain points, and advance their status in an ongoing competition.

Gamification solution

Learners complete assignments across a wide range of ever-changing products, pricing plans, and wireless innovations. The game awards points associated with the learning assignments and tests at the most basic level of play (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: A listing of active games, learning assignments, and course materials are available from the mobile device

Points earned for completing certain formal learning assignments are called “completion points.” Finishing other formal learning assignments delivers “bonus points” calculated according to the score attained on an associated quiz or module-level assessment.

Learners also receive “acceleration points” for completing assignments within a defined time period. This incents them to complete their learning tasks earlier to benefit the organization and customers by compressing the time to proficiency.

Earned points serve as the overall performance gauge for each game-enabled learning program. The system tracks progress for each individual learner in a database. An interactive leader board accessible within the Mobile CU native app, as well as dashboards accessible to all managers, supervisors, and learning administrators, shows a dynamic listing of the top five learners (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Several different types of leaderboards are available so learners can compete at the level where they feel most comfortable; they range from individual to group

Achievement levels depend on the aggregate number of points attained, or for completing specific formal-learning assignments or informal learning interactions. Cricket CU awards digital badges for attaining each pre-defined level, and digital trophies to each of the top point earners at the end of the game play.

A group-based leader board displays the overall score of each individual retail store (e.g., Store 213 in the Las Vegas region). The overall score for a store is the total of the points earned by every individual learner assigned to that store.

The system also awards tangible prizes to leading finishers who place in the top three positions for each competition based on the combination of completion, retention, and acceleration points earned during the game period. Typical prizes are gift cards and gift certificates.

All participants can see individual progress within a game via the various leader-board options as well as via automated messages delivered when they attain specific achievement levels. These message streams serve as a “call to action” or reminder to all participants by encouraging them to stay involved and to complete their assignments. Cricket defined all game mechanics inside the gamification platform.

Learning impact

Cricket conducted the inaugural game-enabled learning program in late fall 2012 and the L&D team conducted a survey of participants to measure their new approach and offering. Survey questions measured reactions to the game-oriented learning approach, how easy it was to launch and understand the various game elements, and how effective the process was for sellers. When asked, “What was the MAIN motivation to complete the game,” participants responded as follows:

  • 42.2 percent: “I want my store and market to win”
  • 18.18 percent:  “I wanted to be on the leaderboard”
  • 39.39 percent: “I wanted to see what I remember from the training”
  • 0 percent: “I wanted to please my manager”

Why it works

The CellCast platform provides methods help to make learning motivational and the use of points, badges, and friendly competition provide the means to easily measure and reward progress. The game elements motivate learners to move through the material and to obtain mastery of the content they are learning.

Conclusion

A mobile gamification platform allows the learner to access the content from anywhere and provides a portable gamification experience that learner’s access when convenient. The combination of mobile and gamification is helping to educate sales professionals without pulling them from the all-important job of selling.

Editor’s Note: This is the third and final article in this series highlighting the impact gamification can have on organizations from a learning and development perspective. These case studies were gathered by Karl Kapp as he researched his latest book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice. The series illustrates real-world application of gamification and the resulting business impact.


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