Purnima Valiathan

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Octalysis Framework: A Trainer’s Take

Learner motivation through the Octalysis Lens


While researching on Games for teaching and learning, I stumbled upon an awesome framework, called the Octalysis Gamification Framework.  I used it to understand Gamification in general, and specifically in the training context. Since the very basis of this framework is motivation, or as the author, Yu Kai Chou, prefers to call it, the Core Drives, it is universally applicable to human behavior. Since teaching and training are meant to impact behavior – in cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains, I have found this framework to be extremely useful in the design of teaching and training material – both to evaluate training programs, and to design them.

My ongoing engagement with this framework helped me gain a valuable insight and gave me my personal Eureka moment. As I referred again and again to this framework, I found that it fits in perfectly with how human beings engage with knowledge, and how it provides a framework to us towards the mastery in a subject area.

I used these insights to adapt the framework so that it may be easily used by teachers and trainers in designing lesson plans and training sessions. Displayed below is the adaptation of this framework.

Motivation – Extrinsic and Intrinsic

The framework can be divided diagonally into two equal parts – with four core drives at the bottom, and the other four at the top. The ones at the bottom depict extrinsic motivation – to be provided by factors outside the learner. Starting with the bottom right, and moving clockwise, you can map each core drive to extrinsic motivation as below.

Teachers and trainers mostly incorporate extrinsic motivation components in teaching – but beyond a point extrinsic motivation fails to work. That is when, we, as teachers and trainers can weave in the intrinsic motivation components in the form of games.While providing a path towards mastery of a discipline, the framework shows teachers and trainers the components that must be included to drive students towards performing well. It also serves as a tool to review lesson plans and learning processes on an ongoing basis, thereby addressing the Evaluation component of the ADDIE Model.

Note: In the original Octalysis framework, Left Brain Core Drives are Extrinsic Motivators – you are motivated because you want to obtain something, whether it be a goal, a good, or anything you cannot obtain; on the other hand, Right Brain Core Drives are Intrinsic Motivators: you don’t need a goal or reward to use your creativity, hangout with friends, or feel the suspense of unpredictability – the activity itself is rewarding on its own.

Here is the link to the original work:

Octalysis Framework by Yu-Kai Chou

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