Is gamified learning really all
fun and games?

Gamification involves more than just shooting lasers and collecting gold coins. When done well, it has the power to enhance learning experiences and influence the way people make decisions. In this episode of the Principled Podcast, LRN Learning Director Kai Merriott speaks with Johnny McMonagle, one of LRN’s lead Creative Designers, about how to leverage gamification effectively when developing E&C training. Listen in as Kai and Johnny discuss the process of identifying the right opportunities for gamified learning, the importance of telling the right story with training material, and their favorite gamified elements—including a 3D printer of doughnuts.

What You’ll Learn on This Episode:

 [1:25] What is gamification?

 [3:02] What comes first - the story or gamification?

 [7:40] The significance of using music in games.

 [10:07] Making a game intuitive for the user.

 [16:33] How long should a game really be for optimization?

 [19:35] How to ensure a game reflects the specific task at hand.

 [20:40] How important are the visual components of the game?

 [26:19] How to keep a game engaging and relevant by tracking progress.

 [29:10] What would the best and worst gamified courses look like?

Intro: Welcome to the Principled Podcast, brought to you by LRN. The Principled Podcast brings together the collective wisdom on ethics, business and compliance, transformative stories of leadership, and inspiring workplace culture. Listen in to discover valuable strategies from our community of business leaders and workplace change-makers.

Kai Merriott: When you hear the word gamification, what comes to mind? Do you think of shooting lasers and collecting gold coins or about influencing the way people make decisions? Too often organizations lean on gamification for the sake of making their ethics compliance program look more tech-savvy. So how can you ensure you develop gamification in a way that enhances training? Hello, and welcome to another episode of LRN's Principled Podcast, I'm your host Kai Merriott a learning director at LRN. And today I'm joined by Johnny McMonagle one of our lead creative designers for LRN, we're going to be talking about gamification in learning. So, Johnny, is a real expert in this space with more than 20 years of experience designing interactive graphic elements for e-learning and training software. So Johnny, thanks for coming on the Principled Podcast.

Johnny McMonagle: Hey Kai, thanks for having me, looking forward to this discussion.

Kai Merriott: So Johnny we've obviously worked together on many gamified learning projects in the past but just for the purposes of this conversation, how would you describe gamification and meaning the way that we talk about it?

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. I think our approach to gamification is to make our training a lot more engaging, it's going to stand out from your normal e-learning and normal training and that is going to look and feel very different. It's going to be engaging, it's going to be enjoyable and it'll be short to the point, but the experience will actually be a pleasurable one and that's where the element comes in, that it's not just education it's actually a fun thing to do.

Kai Merriott: And these sort of gamified elements on top of that is in there so, well, it's fun and it's engaging but also it has game mechanics as well like I suppose scoring.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah, we do that. Apart from the visuals, you will look at a screen and you will see things that you'll see on an arcade game, you'll see a score, you'll see a play button, you might hear the music and the sound effects that you're used to from games and you'll know the second you sit down to do it you're not just clicking next, you're seeing the elements that go into making a game.

Kai Merriott: So when I think about all the projects we've done together which have those gaming mechanics and the gaming elements, I kind of think that every gamified course has really two distinct elements that make it really sort of compelling and engaging and the first is I think a really good story from beginning to end, you put that story element in there that kind of drives you from one part of the learning to the next, but also really good interactivity. Let's start from the beginning in terms of, what do we actually think about first usually? Do we actually start with the story or do we start with what gaming elements can we put into this training?

Johnny McMonagle: Yes. And I've seen that where I think we always start with the story because the story will drive everything. How do we get from A to B on your learning journey? What is it we're trying to do? So we start with a story and we'll tell the story and everything will evolve from there. For example, a recent course I did was on global trade and we said, well, what is the story here? The global trade it tells itself, you're going to go around the world, you're trading with different countries so we said, how are we going to make that work?

And I said to the learning manager, I said, well, how about this? I found an image, it was a little plain going around the globe, I said, well, that's you, you're the character, and we're going to go from A to B and we're going to learn things as you go. Every destination is going to have a consequence and at the end of it you have learned something. And it led to itself that it looked like a game board, it felt like a game and every step of the way it felt you were learning but it was very game-like, and that was the story that led all of those decisions that we put into it and it worked very well.

Kai Merriott: And I think if you were to try and do it the other way around, you kind of start, oh, we know we've got 10 gaming elements to choose from and now let's try and build a story from that, that just never works, does it?

Johnny McMonagle: No, it's kind of working backwards where you're shoehorning just for the sake of it and I've seen it never gels, there are too many different elements just they don't work. We've seen that in putting sound effects into a quiz, it doesn't make it a game, it's just window dressing. I think it has to be more cohesive and it has to have a strong narrative and all the different elements from the visuals, the style of writing, the sound effects, it all has to tie in. And with the idea of gamification in your mind you have to think, does this play, does it feel like a game? I think that's what you're striving to do.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. And I think it's funny you said earlier about, you can't just put sound effects on a quiz and call it a game, I think that's absolutely right. I think you start with that really strong story but then I think we do layer it with sound effects and I think we shouldn't forget that either.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. I think sound effects are very important and they can really enhance the whole experience, it's just one of the many elements and it's a very rich element to have and it can add so much to the experience. We were saying before about sound effects in games, we hark back to the beginning of games, the arcade games again and we all respond to those. We know what a good sound sounds like and we know what losing a life sounds like just from our shared memories of arcade games and home video systems. These are common things that we all understand, we all can respond to and it really does enhance it but having it on its own you need to think of the other elements too and they all have to come together to make that cohesive game experience that feels like a game.

Kai Merriott: Yeah, absolutely. And I'm thinking about the sound effects, I think we slightly age ourselves, don't we? When we talk about arcade games.

Johnny McMonagle: This is true. Yes. Like the coin slot in the arcade. Because it's funny in saying that though, I think to this day we still harp back to the early Nintendos and we know what that sounds like. And even for people who've never played a game of any age, we go, yeah, I am now playing a video game. It is kind of a universal and nearly a timeless thing that we can all relate to it in the same way.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. There's something almost instinctive about, you said earlier, about the noise that means you've won and the noise that means you've lost a life.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. I think it's some sort of shared global experience that no matter where we're from we know what it sounds like. Even if it's a mobile game or a contemporary platform or whatever, we know that means you've just won something, that means you've lost something, it's kind of just a unit universal language.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. And I think as well we're kind of lucky in the age we live in which is that mobile games are so popular because I think they also do the same thing. They're very arcade game-like, very bright and colorful and kind of a lot of sounds, lots of music to convey a particular emotion, what do you think about the use of music in games and how important is that?

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. The use of music can really enhance it and it's a very important thing to consider and it sets the tone for the whole experience. And again, there is the universal thing of we know exciting music to suit the tone if that's what you're aiming for, we know cinematic, we know that if we want this to be dark and somber that's what we do, as you would if you were scoring a piece for a drama you speak the same sort of language. It's funny you mentioned mobile gaming and the target audience for mobile gaming wouldn't be what you would normally think of gamers. And today's gamers I think most people think of people sitting with five monitors, they have the best chairs, they've all the gear, that's what gaming is, but there's also the mobile thing.

So it's every walk of life will have this experience, you wouldn't think of them as your typical gamer but they will engage with this kind of game and they do, they wouldn't call themselves a gamer but they do play these games. And I think that's what we aim for is to say, well, what is it that engages the non-gamer to play a game? It's something that is appealing to people who don't play games, it's something that'll engage them, it's something that they want to come back to and that they'll respond to it positively.

Kai Merriott: So you mentioned gamers with their five monitors and I think you're right, I mean, there's a real important distinction I think to be drawn here between what we do when we talk about gamified learning and the people who are obsessively gamers, or even just casual gamers but more of the console type gamers. I think ours seems to be more like the mobile games.

Johnny McMonagle: I think so. It has to be much more direct, it has to be for somebody who's never played a game, who's aware what a game is. They look at it, they can tell immediately how to play the game, they go, there's the start button. Once they start playing they don't want rule books, they don't want all that, they want to get in and start playing and so from the get-go it should be intuitive, and if it isn't intuitive, if it takes too much explaining, then it's not working. It has to be an immediate thing for people who are time-poor, for people who, as I said, aren't gamers, they want to look at it and go, I like the look of this, I want to press that play button and after I press that play button I want to keep clicking things, I know what I'm doing all the way to the end of the game.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about that, making it intuitive. Because again, probably showing my age, I remember the old days of you take home a game and it comes with a sort of novel-like instruction manual, I mean, they still does this now, right? There's a picture of a controller and there's 1,000 things around it telling you what each button does, but, I mean, we can't really do that in gamified learning, can we?

Johnny McMonagle: No and nor do we want to. It's like, we don't have the time, we're too busy in our lives, we have too many things going on. We have this training set aside we want to get there immediately and say like, if it's too complicated you're just going to disengage with it, if you don't automatically immediately know what you're going to do then I think we're failing, that's what we come into. The mobile version is a strip down to the bare element of, what is a game? And it is, does it look good? Does it look like something I want to play? Will I understand it? Am I daunted by it? Then it's not working, does it look like something I can dive into? Then it is work.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. I was thinking of Tetris actually and how much we all never had to learn Tetris.

Johnny McMonagle: That's it. From the second you saw it on screen you knew what to do and, yeah, no rule books, no help button, no nothing. You go, I know what to do, and within seconds you learn, oh, I didn't get that right, you hear the sound, we can all hear it in our memories, that sound, and you get the little endorphins when you get it right and there's the little positive thing. And you get that within moments of picking it up for the first time and that's the beauty of a game like Tetris. As you, I don't think that anyone ever read how to play Tetris, I'd say they are few and far between, so that's what we are aiming for is that immediacy.

Kai Merriott: Also, I think the simplicity of the gamification options. So if you think about what that means, well, we named a few already so for instance, you lose a life, you have three lives and you lose three and then you're kind of kicked out of the game, you could have what we call internally power bars which is health bars that go up and down as you go, whether you answer a question right or wrong, I mean, there's lots, lots, and lots and lots of different options. We also have branching which is another kind of a popular gaming thing that we do where if you get a question right then the story changes and it's different than if you get the question wrong and you go down a different path. So, so many options but we shouldn't use them all, should we?

Johnny McMonagle: No, because then I think we're overcomplicating. Use it if there's a reason for it, if it helps the narrative of that story we talked about then absolutely. And I like the branching one and it, again, harps back to the old adventure games even in the books, here's your choice, and whatever one you make you go off in a different direction and you're controlling that. You'll always come to the whatever conclusion, we make sure they come to the conclusion they have to, but having that choice is a great thing. But as you say, we don't have to throw all the whistles and bells there all the time but whatever helps the narrative is what we're aiming for.

Kai Merriott: So it's back to story again, isn't it? You choose it as it is.

Johnny McMonagle: I think it is always about the story.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. Because I think back to the course we did together and obviously, we were not going to name any particular client names, but we did one for the cybersecurity course we did, which was seen as being a game, everyone calls it a game, but it only really I think had one gamified option in there, maybe two. And I'm thinking of the one we did, it was a cybersecurity where it was all based around a 3D printing donut machine and you had four donuts I think and then if you answer a question wrong then you lose a donut and that was number one, and then number two was, I think there was a very small amount of branching in there. But even then it was just to show you a little different animation depending on whether you got it right or wrong.

Johnny McMonagle: And that was it, it was very multimedia-rich. It was music, it was bright engaging graphics, it was animation, it was sound effects. And they were all matching, the music suited the primary colors, even the sound effects of the good and bad results that all came together very well and it all sounded like it all belonged as part of the same product and that was a very successful one. And again, the story was you're starting at the start, I think you were getting parts or ingredients, and everywhere along the way there was somebody trying to foil you and your job was to make sure you foiled that hacker. It was about cybersecurity so we invented this character who was trying to stop you on your way and it had a little sound effect, little evil cackle, and stuff like that. And it was a very engaging little game, it was very short but it got the point across, it was all about cybersecurity and all that entails, and it feels very well received.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. I think it had one of the biggest take-ups of any training, not just gamified training but any training for that particular organization.

Johnny McMonagle: That's right. And a lot of that was just the fun of it and was immediately easy to play, you got immediately from the start you go, I like these graphics, I like that music, there's the play button. And I think we made a short intro animation to tell you this is what's going to happen, watch out for whatever we call the baddie and now go, learn this here, he'll try to trip you up on the way but go and answer these questions. And behind all that, it is just an e-learning quiz, but with all these things around it, it's so much more engaging. And it just showed there with the take-up as people were coming back to do it again and talking about it, comparing high scores would be the old way of doing it, but it worked just very well.

Kai Merriott: And I remember even though it was our training every time I went back to test the course during the production process I found myself getting drawn into it every time, I just kept playing it.

Johnny McMonagle: I think I've done that too. In the current one I'm working on we've come up with a new way if you win, a different little game piece for every successful thing. And as we're developing it I found myself playing the game because there's the little reward of the endorphins, the little positive sound, and something glows or sparkles every time you get it right. And then they're going, yeah, bear with me I'm just playing this game, and that shows that it's doing its job.

Kai Merriott: We touched upon earlier about, I think, particularly the cybersecurity one being a short game, because if you think again of gamers back to the five monitor guy, the games they play last for, I say not in one go but sometimes it is, 10, 20, 30 hours of gaming just in one game. We obviously can't get away with that, can we?

Johnny McMonagle: No. And I think no matter how good it is and how engaging it is, I think brevity is the key, I think less is more because the novelty will wear off. I think there's no set limit about how long it should be but I think if you have too much of a good thing too, yeah, kind of enthusiasm wins. And I think for us as contemporary workers we don't have that hour, so if we can do it in half an hour or 45 minutes and they've enjoyed that very much, that's better than dragging it out and turning it into a chore.

Kai Merriott: I think the key time is actually 20 minutes, but whether we actually achieve that, I don't know, that's the kind of the dream, the 20-minute game.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. I think 20 minutes is a perfect round number, I think any longer than that then you are pushing it. I know it depends on the content, it depends on the partner, but ideally we'd be trying to say, no, trust us on this, keep it around to 20 minutes and everyone will enjoy that bit a whole lot more.

Kai Merriott: And it's back to this - people being time poor, isn't it? Because games are seen as a bit of frivolity. And if we're saying to people, right, you're going to spend three hours on this game, well, I think you're right that they would get bored but also they just won't have the time.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. And touching on that, the gaming frivolity, is we have to sell this idea that gaming isn't a waste of time, it isn't a distraction, and maybe it goes back to teaching children that learn through play. And I think we never grow out of that, we do enjoy playing, we enjoy games, but it's not frivolous because actually, we are learning through this. And for employees, for staff and all that, it isn't a waste of time at all, it's like, you must do this training and you're going to enjoy it and that's a nice thing for everybody. If you're going to enjoy the training then everybody wins.

Kai Merriott: Yeah, absolutely. I think it seems to be not just in gamified learning but just in every kind of training that idea of people really not having much time trying to cut things down to the chase because this is not a university, they're not on three-year courses, they have 20 minutes to do a job and they need to learn how to do it quickly.

Johnny McMonagle: Yes, absolutely. I think we can all find in our daily working lives we can put aside 20 minutes and we can justify that 20 minutes and we will learn something. I think it's looking at the modern workplace as well, we have to take in consideration that we just don't have the time. So I think we can all agree we can make time for 20 minutes and that would be our optimum amount of time. And if we're not achieving that in 20 minutes then maybe we're not doing it right.

Kai Merriott: I think that's right. What I often do is when we look at the information that needs to be covered as part of this game, I try and sort of throw away everything that isn't related to the task in hand. I think that's true of e-learning in general, I think it's especially true of games that really should reflect the role that you're doing. So everything in that game should be practical knowledge that you can go away and do something with rather than something that's it's kind of just knowledge and awareness.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah, that's right. I think it's always focused on what it is, is the goal of this game, what is the endpoint of the story we're telling, and don't try to be all things to all men, don't try and overload it and just keep it to a thing. If they need more information they can always go to different resources but for our games, we have to just focus on it, keep it very direct to the point, here's what you're taking away from this game, from this training. There are other ways of delivering information but with a game, we keep focused on what we need to tell, what we need to impart.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. So I think you did touch upon earlier about the kind of visual side of the game. So we talked about the music, the sound effects, and what about the visuals, the way it looks, how important is that to the game?

Johnny McMonagle: Well, I think that's extremely important obviously as a graphic designer. One thing it is again, it's the universal language off game, it is, what does game mean to you? What does it mean to me, to the seasoned gamer, to someone who never plays a game? I say, if you're walking through the office you look over your colleague's shoulder and there's something on that screen that looks engaging and fun and doesn't look like your stack e-learning, it doesn't look like there are two people in business suits shaking hands and a bit of text, next screen, here's two different people in business suits doing something.

And that's the kind of thing, it has to look better than that, it has to look, I say fun without saying frivolous, it has to be a lot more engaging. There has to be something that separates it from your usually learning and I think that could be elements on the screen where you've done something with the graphics, there's something different about it and it can be anything but it has to stand apart or other elements on the screen too like scoring or a meter or something like that where you're immediately going, what is that? So you know from a glance that's a game.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. I think having its own unique identity. I always think of games like Candy Crush which it's not a game I particularly play, I don't think it's really marketed to people like me, but it's got such an identity and the color scheme and the noises, going back to sound effects again, it all says, this is a game that even the sound effects and the colors are going to get you as high as the sugar from the candy.

Johnny McMonagle: Those endorphins again, it's that thing of going, yeah, I'm going to have fun playing this, it's going to put a smile on their face, I'm going to enjoy doing it. And that's again if you saw a picture of it, it doesn't even have to be a live version just a picture of it, you know that's a fun looking game, I'm going to enjoy spending time with this. And I think that's, yeah, we try to do that with our games, we try immediately to go, is this training? Because this looks like something fun.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. And again, I think the visuals go back to the story again and say, what is the story? The story is X or Y, and then from there, you can kind of come up with a brand identity. Because I was thinking about back to our cybersecurity game with the 3D printing donut which is a mad idea, and I think I seem to remember back in the early days, the brand that was suggested that was floated around was actually quite almost movie-like and a little bit subdued and probably wouldn't quite have fitted the idea. Do you remember it?

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. I remember the brand in particular. Many partners they're very aware of their own brand and they want to see their own brand back at them with that, we kind of threw that through book out. We said, well, for this game you're going to get your loco and that's about it, we kind of rewrote it and they agreed that this was the way to go. Is that what you're referencing?

Kai Merriott: That's right. And I think it was what we decided because I think we both said that the original brand was quite subdued given that the idea was so mad. So we kind of went for a much more pastly almost and I think it was basically Simpsons inspired brand because of the donuts, I suppose.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah, I think so. I think everyone now you see a donut with pink frosting on you think Homer Simpson, I think we all do. But that was a point, as we said, well, here's your color palette, blah, blah, blah, here and so on, but look at these visuals. And I think they came around very quickly and they said, no, this looks really nice, we get it, we're responding well to it so we don't need to stick with that. And they went for that mad idea, as you say, their brand palette didn't suit so it didn't take much convincing, it was a strong idea that worked.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. And it really did and that's a project I'm very proud of as well. So I was thinking again of, going back to the gaming options, we touched upon those before, we talked about lives, we talk about scoring, but of course, when you're kind of coming up with this brand identity in this game, you don't really use terms like lives and percentages in scoring you again, presume do you want to tie that back to the story.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah, that's right. Because yeah, the use of lives and all it is going back to our arcade games but that was literally you had your three little characters and you lose a life. And then it depends on your story, that doesn't make sense for the stuff we've done, well, you're not actually losing a life. When we think, what are you gaining? What are you losing? And in that way then I say in global trade, we had a thing we said, well, if you go to a certain jurisdiction and you get this question right then your project goes ahead and you've done well.

If you get the question wrong in this particular jurisdiction, there's going to be consequences maybe that's your project is delayed or you've actually broken some global trade thing, you're going to face legal sanctions and we tie that into the real-life, that training, they need to know this but we've made it a game and we go, there is a big legal sign coming up going, you're in trouble, or we go, you've got this right, here's a little trophy, with a sound effect, a little glow, it all ties back to what you were saying.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. And like the lives turned into donuts, and another one we did quite recently was on agile at the agile process. So the original gaming option, if you like, was a meter that goes down, if it goes down to zero then you get kicked out of the game. Now, we didn't want to just call it a meter so we actually made it a race between two companies who were developing a very similar product. And so if you answer the questions correctly then the meter goes towards you and then if you answer incorrectly the meter goes towards the other company, the rival company.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. And that was a clever use of a very standard functionality of your progress bar basically telling you, yeah, you've answered these right and every time you do it goes up and increments up to the right or vertically and that's standard. But we say, well, how does it tie into our story? And then we had one for alcoholic spur company and we got the same idea, on the left you have a glass with nothing in it, on the right you have a glass that gets full every time you get something right. It's the same principle of the progress meter but dressed up for gaming and for gamification and that's a simple little thing you can do to tie in the game and make it relevant, make it suit the context. And people will react to it a lot better than you boring zero to 100 that they're so used to seeing and it just doesn't feel like a game, it just feels like standard learning.

Kai Merriott: It's that simplicity again.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah. It's something that you can respond to immediately, you don't overthink it. You could see it a glance I know what's happening here and you want to get up to the right and you want to get up to the top of the screen, you know every time you're getting something right it's going up in increments and you're enjoying getting it there and it's your mission to get it there. And if you get it wrong, if it says retry, you're going, of course, I'll retry, I've enjoyed that, I really want to get that glassful or win that contract or whatever it is, that donut machine. It's an easy win but give it some thought, tie it into the design of the whole thing, and again, back to your story, how does this help sell the story?

Kai Merriott: Yeah, absolutely. Because we're not dealing with, going back to the five monitor guy, I like the five monitor guy that you came up with, going back to him, I mean, thousands and thousands of hours, millions of dollars spent on those sorts of games, it does not need to be complicated to be a game and I think we've proven that time and time again.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah, I think it is. It just uses the fundamentals of what a game is that we can all respond to, that we can all relate to, we know immediately what it is, we recognize it when we see it, we know what it is when we are playing it, we respond to it, we know what we're doing and we enjoy it and we want to play it. We enjoy doing it so much that we'll play it again, we'll come back to it if we don't do well, we play until we win it.

Kai Merriott: And I was thinking of, if we were to create a game that absolutely breaks all the rules, so we were talking about things like we have a great story, we have really interactivity that kind of tells the story, it's nice and short, it has a really nice visual identity and it uses sound effects and music and, I want to say, in an appropriate way because we've talked a lot about the fun side of it, but actually it doesn't need to be fun, it can also be dramatic as well. But what would the worst gamified course you can think of look like do you think?

Johnny McMonagle: Well, yeah, getting all those things wrong or even that they don't match, that the visuals don't match the sound effects, that the sound effects sound like they're from a completely different product, that the music it sets completely the wrong tone, things like going, well, why I press something, something odd happens, why did that happen? What do I do next? If you get lost anywhere in the middle of it, if you have any doubt what you're doing, if you have to be reaching for the help button you're not doing it well, we haven't done our job well, if someone has to go, how do I play this again? Or I can't remember what I'm doing, what's the point of this? Then we haven't done our job, that's where the simplicity comes into. And all the elements have to work together or else it's jarring and it feels off and all those things would make it to me just a bad game experience, would be bad training but as a game it just wouldn't work.

Kai Merriott: Yeah. It seems that games are particularly unsympathetic when you get one element wrong. It's almost not too grand a point and it's almost like poetry where every word is absolutely key versus a novel where it doesn't matter if there's a few dodgy sentences in this, it's absolutely you find, but with games, everything has just to be perfectly in place.

Johnny McMonagle: Yeah, no, absolutely. It all has to work together cohesively and the wheat from the chaff is just saying it just should work. And all these, we talked about all the different building blocks, say, that go into it, they all have to just keep it simple, does this element work with that element and all put together, is it doing what we plan to do? Well, somebody just comes and sits down beside you, will they be able to play this and will they enjoy it? Will they respond to it the way we want them to? And if we get all those things right anyone should be able to do that.

Kai Merriott: Fabulous. I think we've basically covered everything that we need to cover today and I think we're running out of time anyway. So, Johnny, it's been great having you on the Principled Podcast, I hope you come back and speak with us again soon.

Johnny McMonagle: Thanks Kai.

Kai Merriott: Thank you all and thank you all for listening. My name is Kai Merriott, we'll see you on another episode of the Principled Podcast by LRN.

Outro: We hope you enjoyed this episode. The Principled Podcast is brought to you by LRN, at LRN our mission is to inspire principled performance in global organizations by helping them foster winning ethical cultures rooted in sustainable values. Please visit us at to learn more and if you enjoyed this episode subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or wherever you listen and don't forget to leave us a review.

Episode Cover - Johnny


Johnny McMonagle

Johnny McMonagle brings over 20 years of experience in e-learning and instructional design to LRN. As Lead Designer, he leverages his graphic design and animation skills to develop interactive elements for training software that create more engaging learning experiences and encourage ethical behavior. He also works collaboratively with clients and internal stakeholders to ensure these learning products deliver effectively on key business objectives. Johnny specializes in drawing, illustration, and character and concept design.

Prior to joining LRN, Johnny was the Lead Designer at Interactive Services, where he developed interactive training elements using Flash and Photoshop. Before that, he worked as a graphic designer at the e-learning company MindLeaders. Johnny received his diploma in classical animation at Ballyfermot Senior College in Dublin, Ireland.

Episode Cover - Kai



Kai has worked in learning management and instructional design since 2001 and has worked at LRN (formerly Interactive Services) since 2013. As a Learning Director, he designs creative learning programs that focus on changing behavior, with a particular focus on pushing visual design and creating compelling animations and videos. He also leads and monitors his team’s instructional design approaches.

Kai has designed training on a variety of topics within compliance—including diversity, code of conduct, information security, anti-bribery, and money laundering. He’s also created training on brand awareness, systems training, social media policies, food safety, sales, customer service, and marketing. He has created these programs for companies all over the world including Bloomberg, Amex, Finra, Facebook, Kraft-Heinz, AIB, Johnson & Johnson, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, Intel, BlackRock, State Street, BNY Mellon, and Colgate.

Several of Kai’s training programs and videos have won awards from Brandon Hall and other training institutions. He earned his MA in creative writing and BA in English at University of Chichester in Sussex.

Find this episode of Principled on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Podyssey, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.