A little over a year ago, very few people had heard of massive open online courses, aka MOOCs. The strange acronym was recognized only in select higher education circles, where the courses were either regarded with trepidation (“What will this do to our schools?”) or with derision (“We have nothing to fear from these second-rate imposters!”). Then over a period of about six months, everything changed. Three major companies were launched, millions of people signed up for free online courses, and the New York Times declared 2012 “the year of the MOOC.” There is no longer a question of whether or not MOOCs will disrupt higher education—they already have, and they are pounding on the doors of K-12 and continuing education and corporate training as well. So, what is a MOOC? How are MOOCs affecting traditional models of education? And what does this mean for the future of corporate training?
A MOOC is a “massive open online course”: massive because the scale of the course is limited only by the capabilities of the learning management system; open because it is free and available for anyone to take; online because an Internet connection is all that is required to participate; and course because it delivers a specific unit of educational or training content. There are different types of MOOCs, but they all rely on a variety of online resources. Content delivery is usually through videos and other online media, while assessment is either objective (quizzes, exams) or subjective (blog posts, digital artifact creation, peer-reviewed essays). The term itself was first used by Dave Cormier to describe a course offered in 2008 by education and technology gurus George Siemens and Stephen Downes. This first MOOC attracted more than 2000 people, a number that was astounding at the time.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 24, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Millennials already make up 25% of the American workforce and that number grows daily as college graduates are finding their way into the workplace. The millennial generation, otherwise known as Generation Y can further be defined by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Y) as: “There are no precise dates for when Generation Y starts and ends. Commentators use beginning birth dates from the latter 1970s, or from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. They are the demographic following Generation X.” Also characterized as the net generation, the Millennials are demanding more challenging types of training that they are able to relate to and many companies are embracing the process of gamification to entice this generation into their workforce.
Because of the internet and games, Millennials have different attitudes and behaviors from previous generations. Generation Y’ers typically have greater expectations of the workplace and are found to switch jobs more often than those of Generation X due to the fact that they do not find the job challenging and rewarding enough. The Millennials work ethic is motivated in a different way than that of previous generations; they seek instant gratification and are looking to be employed by a company that has embraced new technologies and allows them to utilize their multi-tasking skills. This so called ‘net generation’ has grown up with video games, they are highly proficient with technology and see games as a tool (not a just a game).
“How do we leverage “nine-to-fivers” who come home and apply all of the smarts and talents that are underutilized at work to plan and coordinate complex raids and quests in massively multiplayer online games?”- Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 17, 2013 NO COMMENTS
While there are a number of skeptics out there of training through gamification and simulation; gamified simulations have become an extremely popular and very effective training medium. Some in the simulation market may take offense to a simulation mistakenly called a ‘game’. While a simulation does have game-like aspects it is purely used as a teaching method. Are they real enough? They are so real it hurts. Will one take it serious enough? This is where the term ‘serious games’ come into play. Gamified simulations are even being incorporated into traditional military training war games.
By nature, we have the desire to be entertained. The experience-based learning that games provide enables the ability to change behavior by being immersed within the game design and provide a motivation for learning through such motivation. By generating a method for measurable feedback, the trainee as well as the organization benefit. Game-style engagement can bring a high level of engagement and make learning/training actually fun to do. When a simulation is based around an inspiring story it makes it satisfying to play. Gaming interfaces will continue to make inroads in both corporate and educational training fronts within the next decade.
“It is in our human nature to interact and be entertained with playful applications, particularly when there are engaging design elements employed.” -Gamification in 2012 Report, M2 Research
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 10, 2013 NO COMMENTS
What is it about games that make it possible to feel like we can accomplish anything and be a master at it, how can this transfer over to real life? Games are compelling and can lead to behavioral manipulation without the player even knowing it. They have a way of draw users in and engaging them. That is why gamification elements transfer over to simulation training as a perfect fit for one another, kind of like yin and yang. The art of game design has been around for ages, although it may not have first been applied to the computer. But none the less a board game or the like can also draw players into it as well (it just might not be as immersive).
“Games enrich us with intrinsic rewards. They actively engage us in satisfying work that we have the chance to be successful at. They give us a highly structured way to spend time and build bonds with people we like. And if we play a game long enough, with a big enough network of players, we feel a part of something bigger than ourselves—part of an epic story, an important project, or a global community.” -Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken
Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world TED Talk
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On April 3, 2013 NO COMMENTS
As gamification moves from the early adoption stage to becoming more broadly accepted across all arenas it will prove to be a useful tool within training programs across a variety of industries. In order for gamification to be successful it can’t just rely on badges, leader boards and points. Rather, gamification mechanics need to have objectives in place towards collaboration and innovation.
Gartner (http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/gamification/) defines gamification in the following few paragraphs:
“Gamification is the use of game design and game mechanics to engage a target audience to change behaviors, learn new skills or engage in innovation. The target audience may be customers, employees or the general public, but first and foremost, they are people with needs and desires who will respond to stimuli. It is important to think of the people in these target audiences as “players” in gamified applications.
While game mechanics such as points and badges are the hallmarks of gamification, the real challenge is to design player-centric applications that focus on the motivations and rewards that truly engage players more fully. Game mechanics like points, badges and leader boards are simply the tools that implement the underlying engagement models.
Gamification describes the use of the same design techniques and game mechanics found in all games, but it applies them in non-game contexts including: customer engagement, employee performance, training and education, innovation management, personal development, sustainability and health. Virtually all areas of business could benefit from gamification as it can help to achieve three broad business objectives 1) to change behavior; 2) to develop skills; or 3) to enable innovation. While these objectives are very broad, more opportunities may emerge as the trend matures.”