What is stopping your learners?

I spend a lot of time talking to people about who the people are that will be consuming the learning experiences they are designing. Of course the content is important, but if people aren't ready, willing, and able to engage with the content, then it really doesn't matter how good it is. I was reminded of this the past couple of days as I came across articles about gamification that talked about just that thing. Instances where there is a very good product, service, or idea that people just don't respond to because they perceive things differently from the person offering the item.

For example, it is very well documented that many patients do not adhere to prescription medicine protocols. These are good medications that can really help the people, so why don't they comply? Well, the reasons are many, but the one that I want to focus on today is about perception and human psychology. In a video on HealthPrize's website, Tom Kottler explains one reason people will take supplements more regularly than their prescribed medications. He says: "That's because their supplements make them feel young and healthy and in control of their own life while taking the prescribed medication makes them feel like the drug controls their life and it makes them think of their own mortality while reminding them that they are sick." They have created a gamified app that is seeing measurably positive results in a number of areas.

For another perspective on the subject, you may also want to check out the examples in Yu-kai Chou's post on Anti Core Drives: What Pulls Us Away from Desired Actions. Based on the eight core drives of his framework he gives great examples of ways in which one party is offering something thinking it will appeal to the other party based on one type of motivation, where the other party simple has a different motivation driving their behavior.

I see the same thing happen with people in training. People are learning things on their own every single day, but are they perceiving the training they are receiving in the workplace or academic institution more like supplements or prescribed drugs? Are you giving them ways to feel in control? Do they perceive training as a signal that they aren't doing a good job, that there is going to be change happening that they aren't ready for, that they are receiving training as a punitive rather than empowering measure. There are a lot of reasons why people are resistant and appear unmotivated and disengaged. 

Sometimes if you take the time to figure out what is holding your learners back you may find that by simply adjusting course a bit you can get them back on track. If you would like to explore how using gamification might improve your learners' results, contact me to arrange a free discovery call.