In the first and second posts of this series, NogginLabs Founder and the primary instructional architect of Mindful Mood Balance for Professionals (MMBPro), Brian Knudson, discussed the reasons why motivation is important to MMBPro and how motivational features, like “mindful moments,”  encourage participants to complete the whole program. Today, Brian talks about how the classic motivational features of leveling and badging provide MMBPro users a sense of accomplishment and meaning.

MBCT is meant to be conducted on a weekly basis. Does leveling conflict with that?

Brian: No, it doesn't conflict at all. The original MMB that went through the open trial had a traditional model; there were effectively eight modules or eight sessions that you went through. You were either progressing through that or not, and it certainly bookmarked. But you didn't get sense of how big a particular module was, and you didn't really get a sense of overall progress as you went through it, other than maybe just starting to see a pattern because you've done a few sessions. What we did was take the exact same content and simply pull it out and build a visual map for users.

We gave them essentially these micro-accomplishments. You might only complete one or two screens or a particular activity, and that will give you credit for moving forward. As you continue to come back, you’re mapping your way through the exact same content. That's why there's really no conflict.

In essence, leveling works on a few different levels itself then. It’s motivational because you want to keep achieving, and it gives you clear roadmap through the program so you never feel lost or behind.

Brian: And the leveling idea is not that session four is at a higher level than session one. It’s that within each session we provide these micro-levels that give you a sense of progress and also comfort—if you're busy and you have to leave, you still have an idea of where you sit within that module. And because it's online, you’re not locked down to finishing it in a week. If you do take couple of weeks because you're busy, you don't lose sight of where you've been and where you're going. It's just classic leveling that keeps people motivated and excited, because they know what's coming next and they know where they've been.  

We realized that, as a professional taking this it may span more than a week per module, obviously because it's your own training at your own pace. These subtle things that we did like changing it from being week one, week two to level one, level two means that it doesn't have this tightly defined calendar time associated with it. I don't want you demotivated that you're actually six weeks into this self-paced learning and you’re only at level three. Those subtle label changes are enough to keep people motivated to go through it.

Participants can also earn badges by moving through levels and interacting with the content. Are badges really even necessary with all the other types of motivation MMBPro uses?  

Brian: That's a great question. My short answer is probably not. We really wanted to try to hit motivation from every angle. We knew that if we could simply get people to stay with the content that the course will work—you will understand this, and you will be able to build your own mindfulness practice around this. As long as badges are meaningful, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them. I actually do think it may have worked without them. The only thing that's ever wrong with badges is if they're meaningless. Instead of basing them all simply on progress, which is the most common use of badges, we based it on meaningful types of content that you can interact with. It wasn't just arbitrary quantity. You can't get the golden level of these badges until you get to levels seven and eight. Even if you repeat one over and over and over again, you're not going to earn the next badge.

Again, everything we thought about was to encourage people to get to the end. For me, just because I am a competitive person, I didn't want people to stop at level four, even though that's where the data showed people stopped. I want everyone to get to level eight. The badges help push people to level eight because you're not going to get past that bronze or silver badge until you get to seven and eight.