Google+ Followers

Monday, August 5, 2013

Gameification works... if you can spare the time.

Gameification seems to be the great buzz word these days. The concept, for those unfamiliar with it, is the inclusion of games and game theory in instructional design and other areas. I find it to be an interesting idea, partly because I have always been a great fan of games.

Games, at least the role playing games and board games I love, are by their nature social. They challenge us to think differently. Sit down and talk about gaming with a gamer and you will hear stories from past games. Solutions to problems that stuck out in their minds, and continue to stick out. As I write this I cannot help but think of the time one of my games groups solved a problem of how to cross a desert with 1000 lbs of coins. ( a story for a different Blog). My point being that from that game experience, now almost 20 years in the past, I have clear memories, and a learned experience.

The same goal can be achieved with games in the classroom. Students learn more, and remember better the lessons being taught. When I was teaching history to junior high, I used a game to each the frustration with taxation without representation. I chose a student and made not of his or her hair length/color, shoes, shirt style, etc. Every student was given a small cup of Skittles. Then one student was chosen as king, two as parliament, two as tax collectors. The king would draw a card and hand it to a member or parliament who would read it. Then the tax collectors would walk around collecting the right number of Skittles from each student. The skittles collected would be split, 50% to the king, the remaining would be split in thirds, on third to each parliament member and the last third split between the tax collectors ( they got at least on skittle each). The other students learned the frustration that the Americans felt under the British.

What does this mean for corporations? How can you bring games into the training classroom? I recently worked with a person who was a master at doing just that. He was able to come up with fun games that the adults in the room really got into. Another member of the team, the eLearning specialist, was able to build learning games that the class loved. These games take longer to develop (we had to go to 4 different thrift stores to get the parts for one of the games), and they take more time in class. All the games that I mentioned above took at least 45 minutes, where just reading a sentence showing the same thing would take 5 minutes. But in exchange for time, the students learn so much more.

I think that the trade off is worth it. What are your thoughts? What would you do to encourage learning in your courses?