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Does experience count?

  10th January, 2018 By An Coppens

Although it seems like a bit of an obvious question, in gamification especially around learning and HR, certificates earned at some point in life seem to be valued more than for example real-life experience in the very topic. To give a quite pertinent example, Andrzej Marczewski is quoted on his player types and gamification frameworks probably more than most in the academic research field and his work is used in practices like ours. Yet he doesn’t have a certificate in gamification, simply because when he started out, there was no such thing.  Yet, he has contributed a lot of writing and thinking.

When I started in gamification, there were no academic programs, but I did take courses from all the great guys around at that time: Gabe Zichermann, Mario Herger, Yukai Chou and Karl Kapp. I read books and absorbed a lot of online materials to gain the knowledge to add to my skills in the field of learning and HR. Even in the field of learning, it is 15 years of experience working in and with this industry that gives me the added advantage of understanding how teams and projects work and where gamification can add value.

Gamification in learning often focuses on rewarding the certificate of completion, very often it overlooks to already acquired starting point or level of skill a person comes with. In a current project, we are working with an online educational community where some people are completely new and some have serious experience. We are looking at creating a number of experience journeys to engage all of the learners and not just the new people. It means you have more than one gamified experience taking place based on opt-in choices, such as images that you relate to, to illustrate where you are on your journey and self-assessed level indicators.

For experienced learners, the worst you could do is keep presenting them entry-level information which then leads to no action or the feeling the material doesn’t apply to them. In an online world, they will just go elsewhere. It is quite simple. In an organisation where a higher value is placed on degrees and diploma’s, you are by doing that discrediting those that have experience in the field without the paperwork. They are often more adept at figuring out solutions to the problems you work on.

I believe in all gamification work, we should also value experience obtained and allowing for project and application experience to be valued also. Technology such as blockchain can allow creating proof validation of what a person has experienced in practice, rather than in theory. It requires action on the part of the experienced individual to look for validation and then for the chain to seek out well-placed individuals that have seen this happen in reality and have an understanding of the skill required to deliver. In reality, several parameters working together. When we can get to this kind of regular proof validation in gamification, then we are adding true meaning to proof of skill and not just proof of completion.

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