Game, set and match! – Gamifying records management eLearning October 14, 2016

daily-urbanvilleThe Council of the City of Sydney’s new records management eLearning module shows us that learning about records management can be a rewarding experience. The module uses gamification techniques to guide learners through their records management responsibilities while building a new park in the fictional city of Urbanville.

At our recent Digital Implementers Group meeting, Kate Cumming and Janet Villata from the City of Sydney showcased their new eLearning module The Records Management Challenge. The module forgoes the traditional procession of text-heavy slides, and instead engages you with the fun task of building a new recreational park for the residents of Urbanville.

In the module participants are presented with a number of records management scenarios and need to answer the questions correctly to add each new fun feature (such as a tennis court) to the park. Failing to do so might result in a derelict area, such as a patch of swamp, in the park instead. There is no pass mark and participants can repeat the module as many times as they like, having fun building either glorious or appalling parks, and learning about records management as they play. Their responses will also influence community opinion in Urbanville and the headlines that appear in the local media.

Purpose and key messages

The e-learning was developed to help the City of Sydney meet its legislated requirement to train staff in records management. Fundamentally though, the module aims to demonstrate the value of information to staff. It highlights the consequences to business processes, service delivery and community outcomes if staff don’t properly create and manage records.

Each scenario is linked to the module’s three carefully crafted key messages:

  • Good records are important assets.
  • You must create and manage the right records: those which reduce risk or add value.
  • Keep records in the right business systems.

The module also demonstrates that key corporate records are changing: they are moving and morphing to different environments. Core business records are no longer simply documents that get saved in an EDRMS. Core records are now often located in third party contractor systems, cloud services, internal business applications, personal One Drive environments, social media accounts and many other environments. The eLearning explores some of these scenarios because all staff need to know and understand the implications of these changes, be aware of their ongoing responsibilities, and understand what key records are in new and changing environments.

The building blocks for gamified learning

The eLearning project was guided by representatives from the Governance, Learning & Development, Records Management and Information Access teams at the City and produced in liaison with an external eLearning company. Kate and Janet piloted the module with a number of key staff, including staff responsible for building the City of Sydney’s parks.

One of the most difficult parts of the process was developing the storyboard. This had to include every possible pathway learners could take, depending on how they answered the questions. Development of the storyboard was an iterative process with extensive quality checking to ensure that the sequencing and messaging was sound.

Kate and Janet also emphasised the importance of keeping the key messages short and simple. We know that records management is a rich and varied discipline. It takes a different type of discipline to pare back the messages for learners to what is essential for their role, and avoid information overload. The three key messages, in particular, were an important way of succinctly reinforcing the key things staff need to remember about the City of Sydney’s records management environment.

Engaged learners and positive feedback

To monitor the effectiveness of the module, the City of Sydney used a simple pre- and post-learning questionnaire to check that staff were understanding and retaining key learnings. The results showed an improvement in knowledge, and enthusiastic feedback from staff also indicated a high level of engagement.

When the module was released it created a lot of chatter as City of Sydney staff compared the quality of their parks. Staff reported that they felt invested in the game objectives, and read the module content carefully so that they could grow their park, rather than skimming to the end. More importantly, the module has raised questions in some teams about their current records management practices and how they could be improved.

Spreading the love

Records management in public offices is everyone’s responsibility and we are always looking for innovative ways to deliver records management learning. The City of Sydney’s approach to eLearning shows how we can encourage learners to take an active interest in records management and creating a sense of ownership and investment in their learning. Following the success of The Records Management Challenge, the City of Sydney is preparing a new eLearning module using gamification – the Information Access Challenge. We look forward to watching how Urbanville grows!

Ahmad Muzzammil Mohd Faridza September 27th, 2017

Greetings Admin,

I have read about the gamification of records management in your e-learning module. As of now, I am developing a module regarding records management in Malaysia’s largest Oil and gas company. If its not too much, can I take a look at the eLearning module you’ve developed?


Irene Chymyn September 27th, 2017

Hi Ahmad
Thank you for your interest in the module.

Janet Villata from City of Sydney did a presentation regarding the e-learning module during our Records Managers Forum. You can find the podcast and presentation here.

The City of Sydney is sharing the module under the Creative Commons Licence: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. To view the module or obtain the source code please email

Hope the above information helps.
Kind regards

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.