TechLearn 2021 Engagement Gamification: Pulling Back the Curtain

By Josh Yavelberg, PhD
TechLearn 2021 Virtual Conference Logo

In March of this year, Flying Cloud Solutions was asked at the last minute by Training Magazine and Sententia Gamificaton to utilize the gamification features within the upcoming Training 2021 conference site (Pathable) to “make something happen.” Stepping up to the challenge, we worked within the system and made adjustments along the way to manage what was simply tracking interactions that took place within the platform that provided points that could be customized and resulted in a leaderboard that participants could view on the system. On the back-end, we pulled the data from the interactions and leaderboard and randomly awarded prizes from generous sponsors to attendees, weighting the chance of winning by their point total at the time.

None of this is truly revolutionary and all of what was done for Training 2021 demonstrates the common theme for “gamification” of conferences. Many systems limit the potential of game mechanics to the points, badges, and leaderboards (PBL), and we were even forced in this case to work outside of the platform to attach prizes to these interactions. The great benefit of the game, however, is the massive amount of data that can be culled from the interactions, all time stamped and referenced to individual attendees. The data provided a strong picture of how the game was adopted by conference attendees, who was engaged, how were they engaged, what elements of the conference platform were utilized or not utilized, and when interactions were taking place. The data allowed for rich statistical analyses and we were able to paint a picture of different attendee personas by mapping individuals that met different final score levels.

This brings us to TechLearn 2021. Training Magazine and Sententia once again called for Flying Cloud Solutions’ services, this time with a few months to prepare for the upcoming event. With data in hand from Training 2021 and knowledge that we were to use the same conference platform, Flying Cloud Solutions designed a robust “engagement economy.” The idea is that attendees would gain their points by meeting an engagement standard that reflects a “TechLearning Hero.” Such heroes share their knowledge to benefit the broader community of practice and don’t simply log into the session, turn off their camera, and multi-task. While Engaging Virtual Meetings does an excellent job emceeing the live events, the asynchronous areas within the conference were underutilized in the previous conference.

In in-person conference events, much of the knowledge is generated not from the speakers on the stage, rather out in the crowd among attendees. While the session lectures may be captured, the conversations that take place between attendees during the session and in the hallways are never recorded and often lead to lost opportunities. Switch to a virtual conference, and we now have the benefit of capturing the meeting chat from every session and, by encouraging attendees to utilize the asynchronous spaces between sessions, we have the potential of expanding the knowledge of the community of practice with the data that can be collected from these spaces.

While still challenged with what Pathable can provide in terms of mechanics, Flying Cloud Solutions did a lot of research to determine a method for extrapolating the data that Pathable creates and develop a means for attendees to interact with their point totals. Essentially, we are now working in the world of spreadsheets, and after investigating platforms that could use spreadsheet data and provide a sharable user interface to interact with that data in a way that was clean and visually appealing, we found AppSheet.

AppSheet allowed Flying Cloud Solutions to build a clean and interactive application that could stand outside of the conference platform, looks great on mobile devices, and with some assistance from Pathable support, we were also able to iframe the application into the game page on the website. With generous prize donations, additional communications plans in place, and the development of custom Zoom backgrounds to advertise the concept of TechLearning Heroes we are now ready to roll!


Along with this Blog, we are posting a walkthrough of all that was done to make this happen. So, watch as we pull back the curtain on this gamification solution!