In my last post, I discussed how mLevel can quickly assess product knowledge across a large enterprise retail sales organization. As I described, this is often seen as an impossible task simply because of the lack of tools to do the job, namely highly structured learning content and very detailed performance results – both of which are foundational components of the mLevel casual learning platform. The second – and some might say the “bigger” – challenge is actually getting a large organization to fully participate in such an initiative. At mLevel, we distinguish between both near-term participation AND long-term engagement, and we have features that drive both types.
Driving near-term participation
The first step is to get employees to participate. You can’t expect any long-term engagement – or results – if no one participates. Near-term participation to any initiative is opposed by some pretty powerful forces. First, people are generally resistant to any change, so asking someone to do something different from what they normally do is usually met with low enthusiasm. Then, even if people intend to participate, they can get sidetracked by the work required by their “real” job. Finally, even if they are able to make it past these two hurdles, they may not adequately know what to do or how to do it.
While you may be able to address the 3rd point through better communication around the initiative, it’s virtually impossible to remove the first two barriers. At mLevel we say, “If you can’t beat them, join them!”
Well, we don’t really say that, but we recognize that change management isn’t the answer. Instead, we want to compel people to want to participate. mLevel does this in a few ways:
- Make it fun. mLevel uses real games to simultaneously teach and assess knowledge. The games are designed and built by real game designers and developers to be fast, fun and engaging, with rich graphics and sound (if desired). And, you can play them at work!
- Make it easy. mLevel games are designed to be easy to understand and play. Most use game mechanics that are universal and familiar to even the least gamer-like players out there.
- Make it competitive. Our customers confirm our own testing and experience that mLevel really gets the competitive juices flowing. First, people naturally want to improve their performance i.e. their scores, which results in additional plays. mLevel provides detailed performance metrics, like score and time and number of pauses, and an easy way to play again to attempt to improve against all of these measures. Second, many people naturally want to compete against their friends and co-workers. mLevel’s leaderboard shows how each player stacks up against others in the organization. The mLevel Game Challenges feature allows players to directly challenge other players, or simply brag about their high scores.
Driving long-term engagement
Now that employees are “in the door” and playing mLevel, the next step is to ensure long-term engagement – how do you keep employees playing AND learning after the novelty of this fun, new thing has worn off? We believe that the key here is to emphasize the learning objective over simply “playing a game.” The goal in mLevel isn’t to get the highest score (though initially that may be what people are focused on), it’s to master the information. mLevel is organized around missions. Customers can create any number of missions, focused around any number of topics, and accessible by any mix of individuals and groups. Missions consist of several games, each focused on a progressively more challenging level of learning, and players have to master one before moving on to the next. Missions also include achievements – real-world demonstrations of acquired knowledge, such as teaching a fellow employee about what you’ve learned, successfully selling the new product, or any number of other examples. Players accumulate points across a mission’s games and achievements, and when they cross 1000 total points, they have completed the mission and achieved mastery or “m” level. What happens when everyone’s achieved mLevel? Well, you create new missions to further challenge your employees.
One of the side benefits of mLevel, beyond the learning and the assessment of knowledge, is the assessment of the level of engagement of your employees on specific initiatives. While certainly not a scientific measurement, seeing how many people play, how frequently they play, etc. can provide at least some insight into how interested employees are in particular programs. For example, if you launch an mLevel mission around specific product training that isn’t highly adopted, it may indicate that employees feel that they are knowledgeable enough about that product, particularly if their performance in the games supports that conclusion. The bigger picture is that perhaps your employees just aren’t as engaged at the company level as you might think. Either way, these are additional data points to consider when making designing learning and other programs.
We know the success of the mLevel casual learning platform, like many or most initiatives, is largely dependent on getting employees to initially participate, and then keeping them engaged for the long haul. We are continually adding new features to support these objectives, while staying true to our goal of changing enterprise learning.