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Level-Up Learner Motivation
How the Octalysis game design framework might help us to optimise learner motivation
This week, I’ve continued my ongoing quest to answer the question: how do we keep learners engaged and coming back for more?
In the process, I’ve come across a number of super-interesting theories & frameworks used by behavioural scientists, doctors, neuroscientists, experts in self-care & self-management and - last but not least - game designers.
What this very mixed group has in common is that they all use an understanding of how the brain works to drive motivation, increase commitment to a goal and, ultimately, influence how people think, feel and behave.
As designers of learning experiences, this is exactly what we’re trying - but largely failing - to achieve.
So what can we, as course designers, learn from people who have mastered the science of motivation in other disciplines?
The Octalysis Framework
One framework that really resonated with me is the Octalysis Framework created by gamification guru, Yu-kai Chou.
In a nutshell, the Octalysis Framework suggests that, since humans share certain core drivers which motivate us towards certain actions, decisions and activities, it is possible to intentionally design gaming experiences which are optimised for gamer motivation.
The framework has 8 key principles or, as Yu-Kai describes them, “core drivers”:
Core Driver 1: Epic Meaning & Calling
The user is motivated by the belief that they are doing something greater than oneself or was “chosen” to take action.
Core Driver 2: Development & Accomplishment
The user is driven by a sense of growth towards a goal and the prospect of accomplishing it.
Core Driver 3: Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback
The user is engaged by a creative process where they repeatedly figure new things out and try different combinations to achieve a goal.
Core Driver 4: Ownership and Possession
The user feels like they own or control something, which in turn drives an innate desire to increase and improve what they own.
Core Driver 5: Social Influence and Relatedness
The user has an innate appetite for both connectedness & competition with others.
Core Driver 6: Scarcity and Impatience
The user wants something because it is extremely rare, exclusive, or immediately unattainable.
Core Driver 7: Unpredictability and Curiosity
The user is engaged because they don't know what is going to happen next.
Core Driver 8: Loss and Avoidance
The user is motivated by a desire to avoid something negative and/or miss out on a positive experience.
The Octalysis Framework has been used by a number of companies - from Google, Volkswagen and Lego to Duolingo - to successfully drive motivation and influence how their users think, feel and behave.
How might you apply the Octalysis Framework to your course design process to optimise for learner motivation, retention & mastery?
Happy designing 👋
One more thing…. Do you want to get hands-on and design a course with me and great course designers like you? Great!
Check out my course design accelerator, a three week, hands-on design sprint where we work together to design or redesign a course of your choice using the science of learning.
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