Using gamification to strengthen security awareness

The question that many organizations struggle with is: how to ensure that security awareness knowledge lingers after training. More than a hundred years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that on average 40 percent of the new information was forgotten after 24 hours. Recent studies show that gamification of the training results in positive results if we look at what people still know after 24 hours. For this reason we apply multiple forms of gamification to strengthen security awareness training courses. 

Types of gamification that work

There are a lot of forms of gamification that you can use. Our experience is that not all forms are suitable for training and not for both online and offline work. The form that we use successfully in our offline training is the scoreboard. We ask questions and give points based on the answer. The more points the higher you get on the list. This becomes even more successful if you let the participants work in small teams. 

We also use this principle in our online training courses. Only not in teams and is therefore much less effective. What works very actively are ‘badges’, ‘rewards’ and certificates. When you take points from the scoreboard principle and give you ‘rewards’ for obtaining x points, the participants will be more motivated to give good answers. 

In addition, we have the ‘badge’. If you do something you can earn a badge if you do it more than x times you get the expert badge. This works well, for example, to motivate participants to do the various forms of training offered. Suppose you have e-learning modules, news articles, videos and the possibility for feedback, then you ensure that you can earn one or more badges for each of these activities. After all, people are collectors.

The ultimate goal is of course the certificate. This reward gives the feeling that you have completed something and are ready for the next level or subject. It is comparable to the ‘level up’ in platform games. The key to success is to find a good balance between these forms of gamification.

The benefits of gamification in strengthening security awareness training

Using gamification to strengthen security awareness training has numerous benefits. The most obvious are increased involvement and motivation. Gamification provides participants with immediately feedback on what they have done correctly and incorrectly – the latter is often accompanied by a text and / or video that explains the correct answer and why it is correct. It is a form of training reinforcement that offers participants immediate coaching and support for long-term memory.

Because you add gamification elements, you no longer just look at the number of questions someone has. With difficult questions you get more points and some answers are not entirely wrong or not quite right, for which you still get a part of the points. This gives a much more positive picture and the motivation of employees is not negatively influenced. The promptness of feedback and the tracking of statistics also automates many elements of the training enhancement process, which in combination with the accessibility of mobile platforms, ensures faster and more active learning.

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