Instructional Designer Mary Nunaley Teaches How to Win Big with Gamification

February 1, 2021
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In today’s episode, we have Mary Nunaley who is going to share why you should consider adding gamification elements to your online courses.

You will also get to hear the difference between functional and behavioral types of gamification, how giving your audience quick wins can help completion rates, and what the future looks like for making online courses more interactive.

Website: LavenderDragonTeam.com
Facebook: Lavender Dragon Team
Twitter: MaryN
Instagram: MaryNCreates
LinkedIn: Mary Nunaley

Notes

In this episode, you will hear...

… an in-depth breakdown of what gamification is and how you can apply it in your online courses.

… why gamification is a must-have for successful course creators.

… how to use game-based techniques to increase engagement and improve course completion rates.

… smart ways you can use gamification to grow an active community of followers on social media.

… how to create a reward system to recognize learners’ accomplishments and achievements using gamification.

… Mary’s advice for beginners on how to get started and when best to implement gamification in online courses.

… real-life examples of simple, non-technical ways you can incorporate game-based techniques in your online business.

… the best apps and courses where you can learn hands-on gamification techniques from industry experts.

… the simple strategy Mary recommends for course creators to attract and retain the right audience for online courses.

… why being responsive to feedback and adding fun, game-based elements is a great way to increase course sales.

Resources

Transcript

Jeremy Deighan
Hey, everyone. Thank you for checking out the podcast. Today, we have Mary Nunaley with us from Lavender Dragon Team, who is an instructional designer and gamification expert, which is something that I am really interested in diving deep into today because I think gamification is awesome.

I've seen it used in various apps and courses and all kinds of different content. This will be an exciting podcast. So how are you doing today, Mary?

Mary Nunaley
I am doing fantastic. Thanks, Jeremy. How about yourself?

Jeremy Deighan
Oh, I'm doing great. I'm very excited to have you on the podcast today and to go ahead and get started on the main reason why we're here and just see how you can help out other online course creators come up with some great ways to inspire students to take more action in their courses.

But before we do, I always like to start at the beginning and find out where you came from, and how did you get into online business? So, if you would just take a couple of minutes and tell us, what were you doing before you got into online courses? Or is that something you've always been doing?

Mary Nunaley
That's a great question. I come from a corporate and higher education background. So I was on the cusp of online courses when it was first starting at the academic level. We used to do distance learning by sending students videotapes, if you can believe it.

I helped, with the team on my campus and in the state of Tennessee, bring The Tennessee Board of Regents schools online, fell in love with that, did my master's degree online as one of the first cohorts to do a fully online degree. Then left higher education and went back to the corporate world where, again, most of our courses were delivered through the web to employees all around the globe.

And then about four years ago, my son and I decided to take the plunge and create our own company and our own business, focusing on online course creation and putting in those elements of gamification and game-based learning that he and I are both so drawn to. That's my career path in a very small nutshell.

Jeremy Deighan
Very awesome. So have you been doing the gamification the whole time or is that something that is newer that you implemented in the past four years?

Mary Nunaley
I have been interested in gamification long before that. In fact, at the company I was at before I left to start my own business, we gamified my team. I led a team of 20 instructional designers, and we created our own version of gamification called potatofication, where we used gamification techniques to onboard new designers. And you earned Mr. Potato Heads, and we had recipes and things like that because my first career was in the food industry. So everything always goes back to food.

Jeremy Deighan
That's awesome. That's great because whenever I use analogies, it seems like they're always food analogies.

Mary Nunaley
Well, everyone has to eat, so people can relate to that. So yeah, my interest in gamification goes way back. I took a course on Coursera with Professor Werbach, and then I read everything that was out there. Then at the company that I was at, we had the privilege of Yu-kai Chou actually coming to spend a couple of days with our team to talk about gamification.

And if you're not familiar with Yu-kai Chou, he is the founder of the Octalysis Framework, which is gamification that's based more on behavioral design and less on function focus. So I really took that to heart, and we implement a lot of his ideas and strategies in what we do.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, awesome. So I think this would be a good moment because I am pretty familiar with what gamification is. I probably don't know all of it. I know that there's probably some people listening right now who are like, "What are they talking about?"

Let's go ahead and simplify it for a moment. For everyone out there who's listening right now, could you just explain what gamification is and how it could help someone who might be interested in creating their online course or making their course better?

Mary Nunaley
Sure. At its core, gamification is about motivating your learners to excel and exceed and, at the end of the day, complete your course. There are two different schools of thought. One is more function focused. And that's what we see most often when we're talking about gamification, which is points, badges, and leaderboards.

And then there's more of a human-focused direction towards gamification, which really applies techniques from behavioral psychology, still using points, badges, and leaderboards, but goes more in-depth about why are we creating these badges? Or what's the action that we really want that learner to take so it's more meaningful?

You also apply a lot of game-based techniques, and my son and I are both avid gamers. He's more role-playing, I'm more tabletop, but both of those types of games have things in common that can easily be transferred to your online course.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. So we see this and the word gamification comes from that fundamental thing where you're playing a game and you do something and you get a badge or an award, or you level up to the next level or get a better character. And we started seeing this in business.

Now, I noticed it probably only in the past couple of years. You obviously have been paying attention a lot longer than I have. But I've seen applications and softwares start taking this to heart where you do something on software that could be task management software, but it shoots up a little badge and says, "Congratulations! You finished 10 tasks today." That's what we're talking about, correct?

Mary Nunaley
It is, yes. One of the best examples that I've come across lately is if you've ever tried to learn a foreign language, and you use the Duolingo app because they've built in not only the badges and the points, but also that motivation.

They have a countdown timer each week saying, "Hey, do you want to move up to the next rank? You've only got 45 minutes to get X number of points," which is what I was doing last night because I wanted to rank up to the diamond league.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, that is a great application. I have that application myself trying to learn Spanish, so it is a good one.

Mary Nunaley
Yes.

Jeremy Deighan
So when someone is talking about doing this, say, for an online course, why is gamification important? How can that help someone doing an online course?

Mary Nunaley
That's a great question and answer. As a course creator, applying some of those gamification strategies really forces you to take a step back and think about the content that you're delivering and how you're delivering it to the student. Are you making it engaging? Are you building in places where the student can either compete against themselves?

And when I say compete, keep in mind that we're talking about sort of games. So how do they stay motivated to finish your course? And it's an abysmal world out there with less than 10% of students completing online courses. And so you want to stay ahead of that.

For the learner, adding those gamification elements really helps them not only have a more clear path, but have a better learning experience. So if you think about your course, what are the desired actions that you want your learners to take to master the subject or have that transformation?

And then how are you going to do that? How are you going to reward them for doing those things? Or how are you going to punish them for not taking those actions?

Jeremy Deighan
I like that. What would be some examples of some awards that you could have in an online course that would help the learner progress through that course?

Mary Nunaley
Jeremy, that's a great question. One of the things that we're currently working on with a client is if the learners complete all of the activities in a specific module or lesson, they then get what we're calling a mystery box. And they get to pick from one of three visual doors. Behind those doors, they get some extra content that's going to help them achieve their goals.

So this is a writing class; maybe somebody wants some additional help on editing, maybe they want some additional help on marketing, maybe they want some additional help on defining their niche. Well, they get to pick the door that they want, and then the course creator is going to have some bonus material for them, but only if they complete the lesson.

Jeremy Deighan
Oh, that's awesome. I like that. That has my brain rolling with some ideas now.

Mary Nunaley
Awesome. And again, it's something that can be done without a lot of software because you could just put a picture of three doors in your learning management system, and then each one of those is a link to a different document. So it doesn't have to involve a lot of expensive software either.

Jeremy Deighan
I definitely want to get into that; how would you set something up like this. But before we do, I noticed you also said that you could maybe take some things away from people if they're not completing. What would be some, I don't know if you'd call them negative gamifications that you could add to this?

Mary Nunaley
For example, going back to the Duolingo that we both mentioned, if you get too many questions wrong, you lose a heart or a life, and then you either have to earn more hearts or you have to buy some. So that's a negative if you make a lot of mistakes.

In the online course, that might be instead of giving them unlimited attempts at a quiz, you only give them two. Or let's say you have an assignment that they submit to you, you give them less time to do the assignment. So it adds that extra pressure to like, "Oh, I've got to complete this." And for those procrastinators out there, it might actually be a positive.

Jeremy Deighan
That would definitely work for me because I'm one of those people. I like waiting and I love getting those little badges and hearts when they pop up on the screen. I mean, what is it doing? Is it giving you an adrenaline rush? How does the psychology of that actually play into helping someone learn more?

Mary Nunaley
Yes, some of it is an adrenaline rush. And some of it is just building on that sense of development and accomplishment that we all like to have. And especially as adults, we don't often get that as much as a child does, for example.

A child learns to tie their shoes, and it's like, "Hey, little Suzy learned to tie her shoes." Or they're playing kickball, and it's like, "Oh, you kicked the ball and you didn't fall down. Good for you!"

As adults, what we mostly get is, "Well, how come you didn't turn that report in on time?" Or, "Why didn't you make that deadline?" So having those little small pats on the back are a really strong motivator.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. I've thought about this; it's like building confidence. When we lose our confidence, that's when we start procrastinating or not doing the things that we should be doing. And it seems like this can help you build a little bit of confidence over time.

When you're doing Duolingo — if you don't know what that app is, it's to help you learn another language — when you're doing that app and you're getting those badges and you're unlocking things, you want to progress because you're getting excited, you're getting more confident, and you're learning. So it's a really neat technique to have.

Mary Nunaley
Yes. And again, using Duolingo, since we've been talking about that, even depending on what language you're learning, the characters that clap their hands or cheer or smile when you get an answer correct, it's like, "Oh, I don't get that so much in the real world." It's just like I'm expected to do my job. So having this little virtual person go, "Good job!" it's like, "That makes me feel good."

Jeremy Deighan
Definitely. Now, speaking of that, do you ever do any gamification around a community or multiple people? Or is it always just a personal thing that someone is going through?

Mary Nunaley
That's a great question. Again, going back to the client that I'd mentioned earlier, he is also working on gamifying a community. So we're coming up with some ideas that the members of the community can also get badges, or get extra recognition by going out and helping another community member, sharing their knowledge and expertise, sharing the community with other people.

So it's definitely something that works well in communities. And if you can put the community together and have them do some group quests, similar to what you might do in a role playing game, that also builds some of that camaraderie. And it should always be optional, though.

You don't want to force somebody because I know many of us think back to school, it's like, "Oh, no, not a group project." But if you make it optional, then, first of all, some people are going to join just because they don't want to be left out. And then as they get involved, they're like, "Oh, now I don't want to let my teammates down." That's another way to make that community more "gamified".

Jeremy Deighan
That, again, gives me some more ideas because I'm thinking about my son who likes to play Fortnite. That game, you can play solo by yourself or you can get in a squad with other people. They have leaderboards, which I think would help on a competition basis. If you saw some other people are getting more hearts than you, you might jump in the app and try to finish some real quick yourself.

Mary Nunaley
Exactly. So there's a lot of different ways to do it. Even if you look at Facebook, Facebook has started adding some of those elements to their groups and their pages where you can be a top fan, or you're in a group and you're recognized as being new to the group, or somebody that's a visual contributor, or somebody who's a conversation starter.

So it's not really in-depth, but they're starting. Even on social media platforms, you're starting to see some of those elements come in.

Jeremy Deighan
I'm remember getting a Facebook badge one time and feeling like, "Oh, look at me. I'm a conversation starter. I like to talk to people."

Mary Nunaley
Exactly. It's small, but it's a good step. So now in your own online course groups, that's something that you can build on. And if you're doing a group in Facebook, you can actually start by using the badges that are already built onto the group and then create your own.

Jeremy Deighan
I saw some else do this in a Facebook group where they had gone into a graphic design program. I forget which milestone they had reached, but they had reached some milestone. The owner of the group had taken their picture and put it in graphic and said, "Congratulations! Your Facebook group reached 100 people."

So the owner of that group was presenting this kind of badge or an award to the rest of the group members. And then shortly after, you saw a couple more of those popped up because, obviously, people got excited and joined in.

Mary Nunaley
Exactly. And there's a few groups that I belong to for business owners and such. At the start of each month, they do a graphic that recognizes the top 10 contributors. And it's kind of fun, especially when I'm not expecting and it's like, "Oh, really? I was a top contributor? That's kind of cool."

So that's another way in your group so that you can recognize people is going into the data and seeing where they're making that contribution. And some folks are going to really then strive for that month after month, and other people are like, "Yeah, whatever." But it's a fun way to recognize accomplishment and achievement.

Jeremy Deighan
Now, when someone is creating an online course, and I always try to think to the person who is listening to this podcast, and how can we help that person? Typically, the audience of this podcast either hasn't created a course yet and they're thinking about it. Or, they're on their course creation journey, and they're just maybe needing a little more help.

Or maybe they're listening to us talk. I try think to myself, if someone was creating a course, and they're listening to this podcast episode, gamification might sound complicated.

So at what point in an online course creation journey would you recommend someone to put gamification into their online course? For example, would you do it right in the beginning or would you wait a little while? How would you recommend that to someone?

Mary Nunaley
That's a great question. Typically, with our clients, we recommend that they have created at least one if not two courses already, mastered — well, mastered isn't necessarily the best word — but become comfortable with the online course creation process, feel comfortable that their content is accurate, and that they're getting the results that they want.

And now they want to take it to the next level, whether it's to improve course completion rates, to build more engagement. Trying to add gamification on right at the beginning can be very overwhelming.

Jeremy Deighan
So talking about gamification and it being complicated, let's imagine that someone out there wants to begin but we don't want to get real involved. What is something that could be basic or very simple for someone to set up in their online course?

Mary Nunaley
Sure, Jeremy, that's a great question. One of the things that I recommend, and this goes back to the days when I used to train face to face and didn't have time to necessarily proof all my work. And I'd go to my audience and say, "Hey, first person who finds a typo, I got a Kit Kat bar for you.

So it's like an Easter egg because I know there's a mistake, I just don't know exactly where it is, much like movie producers hiding Easter eggs into movies or TV shows. So in your online course, you could put a little Easter egg in one of your videos, and then leave a comment to your students saying, "Email me if you see such and such."

And that might be something that you really want them to focus on, or it might be a little subtle message on the backdrop, something like that. Now your learner is like, "Oh, I gotta pay attention."

So I don't recommend overusing it, but it's a fun simple way to get your audience to pay a little bit more attention to what you're doing. The mystery doors that I alluded to earlier, too, is another fun, simple way. You just need to think through; what does the student have to do to earn access to the door?

But then, it's really just a graphic with a URL on top of it that takes them to a document or something that you want to give them for some bonus content, without getting deep into the weeds of points, badges, leaderboards, all of that. So it's dipping your toe into the water.

Jeremy Deighan
It seems like if you were using an online course platform like Thinkific or Kajabi or something like that, you could just make a lesson that's text-based or image-based and have those links right there in the course itself.

Mary Nunaley
Exactly.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. Now, let's say that you wanted to take the next step further, and this is something that you're really excited about, and you strive for those completion rates. You want your students to succeed and you see how gamification could really help out. Where's the next step? How does someone get into this? What kind of software are you using for something like this?

Mary Nunaley
You can actually do it with just something as simple as Google Sheets and a good graphics editor. Or you can invest in some heavy-duty software. I know Thinkific is beginning to work with some creators to have apps that integrate that have gamification elements.

What I would actually recommend is to either read the Actionable Gamification book by Yu-Kai Chou, or any of the books by Karl Kapp that talk about gamification and game-based learning because you need to understand what you're doing before you just dive into it. This is the academic in me coming out.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, it goes back to the fundamentals, right? Software can be changed or relearned or whatever, but you really want to focus on the fundamentals is what you're saying.

Mary Nunaley
Exactly. I've just recently discovered Glide Apps. And I'm working on gamifying a course using Glide App, and that's a no-code app program so it's like, "Oh!" But you still have to think through everything that you want the learner to do.

So instead of just jumping in and going, "Oh, let me make some badges. Oh, let me give them some points." Well, why are you giving them a badge? What's the rationale behind it? What do they need to earn it?

If all you're doing is just giving them badges for like, "Oh, you logged into my course, here's a badge." "You watched the video, here's a badge," those badges then don't have meaning. And so you've really defeated the purpose of gamifying your course.

Jeremy Deighan
That makes total sense. One question that popped up that I was thinking about, too, is is gamification ever monetized? I know like talking about video games, they try to monetize every award and thing that you can do.

But have you ever seen that in a business setting where someone did something and gamifying did not only give them the opportunity to progress and learn more, but there was some kind of monetary value attached to it?

Mary Nunaley
I guess Starbucks kind of does that. It's a very low level system of gamification, but one of those first ones where they want you to go to Starbucks and buy more of their things. And as you make more purchases or complete customized-to-you challenges, you earn points that can be then exchanged for products.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, yeah. The other day, we got a free ice cream because we go to this ice cream place all the time. You buy nine ice creams and you get that 10th one for free, right?

Mary Nunaley
Exactly. And again, using Starbucks because that's pretty worldwide known, they do every year the "Win Starbucks for Life". Well, the way you get your little playing pieces is to make more purchases.

In the meantime, they're also saying, "Hey, look, you've got 200 points. That'll get your free sandwich." It's like, "Oh, well, I'm going to not just get a sandwich, I'm going to go buy a coffee to go with it." That's one of the many businesses that I've seen monetize in terms of that sense.

Jeremy Deighan
You just reminded me of the McDonald's Monopoly also where they put the little Monopoly stickers on the side of fries, but you can only get it if you get the large fries or something.

Mary Nunaley
That's it or you have to buy a sandwich in order to get the game piece.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. That's really interesting. What are some really cool like gamification examples that you've seen in the past, specifically for online courses? I know we're talking about different businesses, but bringing it back to online courses. Can you give any examples of some really spectacular gamification examples?

Mary Nunaley
Full disclosure: I'm going to come across as this Yu-kai fan girl, but he actually has a gamified premium site called the Octalysis Island, that gamifies and exemplifies everything that he teaches about gamification.

So, you level up, you travel around the island, you watch different videos, you learn new content, and you learn how to apply gamification to your own courses by participating in the islands. For me, that's one of my favorite ones. Xperiencify is another one that several of my associates have recommended. So that might be one worth checking out as well.

Jeremy Deighan
We'll definitely link all of these up in the show notes for everyone because I know the spellings can be a little tricky. I've heard of the Xperiencify. Someone mentioned that, and I believe that is for courses that has a gamification element to it. Is that correct?

Mary Nunaley
That's correct.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, so that's one that might be worth checking out if you're wondering about what kind of platform to use. That might be one. And then the island, that sounds really neat. What was the name? Octalysis Island?

Mary Nunaley
Yeah, Octalysis Island, and I'll be sure to send you a link to it. So the island is, actually, if you want to learn more about the theory without having to read a book, and experience in action as well how you can gamify a course. It's actually fairly complex, but fairly low tech.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, awesome. That's really neat. We'll link those up. This has been an awesome talk. And I think that the world is changing around us and attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. It's sad to think that there are so many great programs and courses out there that are teaching people all kinds of different things.

And you go and you buy a course, I've been guilty of it myself, where I've spent lots of money on online courses and never opened them, or just did a little bit of them, and then never came back to it. So it seems like this would definitely be a way to try to help get people through those courses so that they can learn what they're trying to learn.

Mary Nunaley
Exactly. And I'm guilty of this as well. I mean, there's the Island of Misfit Toys; I call it the virtual shelf of misfit courses that sounded good, but I just never got around to, or I started and I just didn't feel the motivation to complete it. And my mission is to help course creators design courses that will have people finish or at least make it more than 10% through.

Jeremy Deighan
It's amazing to me that that happens so often. What do you think that that's attributed to, other than just people being lazy?

Mary Nunaley
I think sometimes it's a miscommunication between what you think is going to be in the course and what it actually is. Sometimes I think life happens. You start off with the best intentions, just like New Year's resolutions, and then you realize that, "I actually have to spend five hours a week working at this. I'm never going to get it done."

And then I think also, and I'm guilty of this as well, both as a participant and as a recipient, a lot of times, there are course giveaways or item giveaways. And it's like that fear of missing out. It's like, "Oh, I want that."

Then you have this whole library of things and then you're like, "Why did I click that button? Why did I subscribe to this?" instead of really having a target of, "Here's the specific thing that I need now to help me move forward and I'm not going to buy anything until I complete that."

And that's so much harder to do. This is coming from the person who ends up purchasing the same book seven or eight times because I'm like, "Oh, that looks really good." And my son's like, "Mom, you already have it." "No, I don't." Then I get home like, "Oh, you're right. This is like copy number seven."

Jeremy Deighan
What about getting someone into that? I know that a big problem as you mentioned is that a lot of people don't even start. So is there a way that we can help someone just even open the course and begin that course?

Mary Nunaley
Yeah, and I struggle with this myself as a course creator. I think part of it is being brutally honest about what the course is and how much time it's going to involve, instead of just looking at it as a way to perhaps make some extra income or collect email addresses.

I think back to my days in the restaurant industry when I would interview potential employees, and I would tell them all the bad things first. And then if they were still there, then I knew that they would be worth... "Now, here's all the cool things that can happen."

So I think if perhaps, and I don't mean it in a negative way, but say, "To successfully complete this course, you're going to need to spend two to three hours a week and there's going to be homework. There's things you're going to have to do and the more you put in, the more you're going to get out of it, and the better your chances are of completing."

Jeremy Deighan
So, like you said, you have to be very clear on whom it's for and what's included so that you can match the audience to the course. I think a lot of it, like you said, is a mismatch. Someone thinks that it's something that it's not.

And sometimes pushing away people is just as important as bringing the people to you because you don't want to have the wrong people taking your product or your program because it's not going to benefit anyone. It's not going to benefit them and then they're going to ask you questions, and then that's time on your hands that is not going to help you out either.

Mary Nunaley
Right. And if it is a mismatch, you may have people that are then going, "Well, don't ever take a course with Mary because she...." So it's also affecting your reputation.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. And we don't want that at all.

Mary Nunaley
In a positive way, yes. So I think the clearer we can be about what our course is about, who it serves, and what the time commitment is, the easier it will become for people to make good decisions about, is this course for me? Or maybe it's, "This course isn't right for me now, but let me revisit it in six months."

Jeremy Deighan
How do you bring people back in? Have you discovered any way of someone who hasn't taken a course and you found a good way to draw them back into taking that course?

Mary Nunaley
That's something that I'm working on as well. And I found that just regularly talking about the content, whether it's being a guest on podcasts or on my own Facebook Live show, just dropping subtle things. And it's like, "Hey, when you're ready, I'm here if and when the time is right." So it's much like going out to eat. Some days I want pizza, and some days I want a burger.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah. What's the saying? "It's not no; it's just no right now." It doesn't mean that I don't want to take it or I'm not interested. Obviously, if you buy something, you have some interest in it. But we just got to get those people in the course.

And then the gamification aspect, I think, helps getting them what we call quick wins — a quick way to get them to achieve something. I think back to one of my more successful courses I did was on the program GarageBand, which is like an audio production program.

And the first lecture was a quick one-minute introduction. The second lecture was like a 15-minute video of me showing how to write a song from beginning to end. It's very fast and it's very crude, but I show the whole process immediately. In the past, what I had done is I would do it step by step by step.

So what I did with this one was I showed the whole process, and then I went on to teach the software. But because they had seen that overview of the software, they feel like they get a quick win, and, "Oh, this is something that I can do." That course has great completion rates and I think it's because of that.

Mary Nunaley
Yeah, no, I would agree. It's having that sense of quick win, or feeling like my feedback is benefiting. Like if I gave you feedback and said, "Hey, Jeremy, that course I took of yours was great, but what I really liked was the fact that you started with the video."

And then if you respond back to that student, then it's like, "Oh, my feedback actually counted for something." That also makes you feel like it's another win. It's like the person teaching the course is actually listening to me. So I think wherever we can build in those quick wins that have real meaning, we're going to have more engaged students.

Jeremy Deighan
I totally agree with that because how many times do you get a course or you start it and you're watching the videos, and you just feel like you're in an empty space by yourself watching these videos over and over. It can become monotonous and boring, especially if it's the same kind of video.

But throwing in these gamified elements that are giving you a badge, giving you an alert, making it fun, that's what it's about. You want to have fun while learning. No one wants to go back to boring college class, sitting there just listening to someone lecture all day, right?

Mary Nunaley
Exactly yes. And if we think about the best teachers we have have been the ones that made it fun, kept us engaged.

And just real quick because I know we're just about at time, another technique and with the software that's available that allows you to automate messages is even sending out weekly messages to the class that aren't necessarily the default, canned message that comes with most of the learning management software, but something that recognizes the achievements of the class that week, if it's a cohort style class.

Like, "Hey, everybody. We've moved on to week three and congratulations to Jeremy for being the first to turn in all of his assignments." That's just another way that shows that the person teaching it is actually paying attention. Even if it's an evergreen course, just sending those little reminders that drop people's names and make them feel valued is another thing that you can do.

Jeremy Deighan
That harkens back to that Facebook group where the owner of that group took the time to create that graphic and post that. So that's awesome. I really like that. Awesome. Where do you see the future of gamification and the future of your business going forward?

Mary Nunaley
Great question. I think gamification is here to stay. It's probably going to reiterate just like so many things. I think as consumers and students become a bit more savvy about what gamification is, they're going to expect more from us as course creators.

But I really don't see that shift happening for at least another four or five years, especially when VR and AR, which we haven't even talked about, start becoming more practical for the average person. I can see some really neat things happening in the course creation space.

And in terms of our business, 2020 for many folks including us was a little bit of an eye-opener. We are back on solid footing and I see us working with more individuals to help them build fun, engaging, exciting courses.

Jeremy Deighan
That's awesome. It's an exciting world that we're living in. I just can't believe the day that you're going to be standing there in your living room and you're going to be standing right there in an augmented reality system where the teacher could be right there with you showing you. I just think that would be a really cool aspect if someone's teaching you guitar or teaching you science that they could be standing in the room doing that.

Mary Nunaley
We're not quite there yet, but I think in the next four to five years, we're going to see some things that we couldn't even imagine happening.

Jeremy Deighan
Definitely. Well, Mary, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. It's been a pleasure talking to you, and just hearing about all this exciting stuff. I know that there's going to be a lot of people who want to find out more information from you. So where can they do that?

Mary Nunaley
Oh, great question. You can always go to our website, lavenderdragonteam.com. Or just find me on Facebook or LinkedIn and I'm happy to chat.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. Well, thank you so much. I wish you the best success in the future. Hopefully, this world just keeps going in an upward trend and that brings in business. I look forward to your success in the future.

Mary Nunaley
Thanks, Jeremy. It's been great being your guest. I look forward to maybe learning more about GarageBand from you.

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