Gamified Learning: Engagement Inside and Outside the Classroom

AACSB talks with CEO of Gnowbe, So-Young Kang, about how gamified learning takes advantage of the social and technological habits learners already have.

So-Young Kang: [00:18] In order for adults to learn, we need to reflect on ourselves. We also need to have peer to peer dialogue. I can't just learn by reading something. I need to discuss and debate things with you. You challenge my thinking, I challenge yours. By seeing your answers, I might go, "Wow, Dan is really smart. I wonder why I didn't think of that." Then I learn from that, actually.

[00:33] That was a very, very important part of the design of the platform, to enable that type of social and peer-to-peer learning. Long gone are the days where the professor is the expert of all things. Now we have Google. Most people can learn whatever content they want within minutes.

[00:53] The challenge now is not content but it's about dialogue, and building off of each other's knowledge. The philosophy that I go by is not one-to-many anymore, which is one expert to many, but the idea of many-to-many.

Dan LeClair: [01:05] The mobile facilitates that.

Kang: [01:06] Absolutely, because we're used to it. We chat all day. How do we take advantage of the behaviors we're already doing, which is chatting, taking selfies, wefies on Facebook, liking each other's comments, posting it. Then take that behavior and use it for learning.

LeClair: [01:21] We're playing games.

Kang: [01:22] All the time.

LeClair: [01:23] There's an opportunity to gamify learning and create additional motivation.

Kang: [01:29] With gamification, you can do things like pop-up rewards. You can actually track where people are. You know exactly physically where they are because you have geolocation. Imagine all the fun things you can do. You can tie it to your email systems.

[01:42] You can give physical rewards. We have people giving vouchers. We have people giving free bonus content. We give them promo codes to the next program for that school.

[01:53] I think the idea of gamifying, and also doing leaderboards. You have some people who are competitive. Every Friday, they'll get a Gnowbe Weekly Journey, which will tell me who are the top five.

[02:04] It's not meant to shame. It's more positive reinforcement. We only limit to the top five. If you want to see yourself in that top five leaderboard, then that might motivate you to go and get learning.

LeClair: [02:17] That's great. When I used to be a professor, I used to teach often at night. One night a week, three hours. Imagine how boring that could be, with Dan for three hours.

Kang: [02:28] I think it would be very interesting.

[02:30] [laughter]

LeClair: [02:30] I used to tell them, I said, "My goal is between this meeting and next meeting for you to be engaged with our ideas, with the things that we talked about." It was very hard. It seems like there's a lot of opportunity to extend that learning across those meetings.

Kang: [02:46] You're absolutely right. In fact, that's been one of the biggest use cases of our platform. We actually call it Gnowbe Extend. We see professors, and educators, and trainers taking that three-hour class and extending it literally over 30, 60, 90—one of our partners for 365 days.

LeClair: [03:05] Wow.

Kang: [03:06] It's crazy. The idea of small 10-minute bites, to say, if the principle was on digital marketing, for example, instead of just giving me the content in three hours, which is probably going to be overwhelming—I won't remember all of it because it's just too much—you break it down for me, the same content. Then every single day, you give me a little action to do.

[03:26] Then in my peer group, I'm able to collaborate and see what they're doing, learn from them, and get new ideas. I believe that the way that humans actually enjoy learning. We do it like that anyway, and so now, with technology we can do it at scale.

Filmed April 2018 at ICAM in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.