Last year, gamification was a crazy buzzword indicating a trend that many predicted would be either the savior or the destroyer of education and training. (Playing games at work? But work isn’t supposed to be fun!) Now, it seems like we hear less about gamification just in general, but that isn’t because the idea of using game elements in non-game situations has gone away. On the contrary, gamification has made it into so many aspects of our daily lives that we hardly notice it anymore—if you’ve saved on groceries using a store loyalty card, booked a hotel online, or worn a Fitbit, you’ve been gamified.
Gamification is also working its way into more and more training and development departments. I’m not just talking
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On March 27, 2014 NO COMMENTS
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) like the ones offered by Coursera, edX, and Udacity have been around for about two years now, and over the past year or so, I have written about how they have evolved and the impact they have had on corporate training. Now, after several ups and downs, MOOCs are starting to find their place, and it turns out that place is much larger than could have been anticipated: MOOCs aren’t just disrupting how training is delivered; they are changing how companies interact with their employees and others on a much grander scale.
As organizations continue to expand their use of new digital learning environments, we can identify some MOOC megatrends that are starting to shape up. I’ve touched on many of these trends before, but over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll look at each of these trends in turn, defining them, describing where we are in the process, and identifying challenges in their adoption. The goal for this series is to provide a complete picture of the place of MOOCs in training departments and in organizations as a whole.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 16, 2013 NO COMMENTS
How much of their essential job skills and knowledge are people in your organization learning from one another? 10%? 20%? Probably closer to 80%. Do you know what they are learning? Does it align with the goals of your training program? Well, that may be difficult to judge, but one thing is certain: they will remember it. Regardless of how much time and energy you put into creating content and designing your training, your employees will learn more from their peers. In a previous set of articles, we looked at the advantages of using a massive open online course (MOOC) to incorporate informal learning into training programs. Here we will focus more specifically on peer learning and how a MOOC can be used to facilitate, structure, and assess it.
Peer learning is a powerful learning tool, but one that is largely unharnessed in any organized way, often because of the belief that it does not allow for very tight control. One method that many companies have embraced is mentorship, and research has shown that employees who have mentors feel more supported by the organization, show stronger organizational commitment, and are more likely to stay. But peer learning takes place in many other ways—people give one another advice, opinions, and ad hoc lessons all of the time, over email, the phone, and even the water cooler. Although these interactions are casual, they nevertheless account for a large amount of organizational learning, and companies can benefit from not only encouraging but also facilitating them.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On December 2, 2013 NO COMMENTS
It seems like at least once a week there is a major news headline declaring that our educational system is broken, and looking at the data on how U.S. students compare with students in other countries, it is hard to doubt that this conclusion is true. The training system is broken as well. Results from an ASTD study suggest that as much as 90 percent of new skills learned during training are lost within one year, which means that despite large expenditures on training programs, many companies are not realizing significant returns on their investment (ROIs). What’s worse, many companies do not systematically analyze these ROIs, so they really have no idea what they are getting for their training dollars. Part of the problem is that the traditional models of education and training aren’t brain-friendly, meaning that they are completely removed from how people actually learn. For many years (and even centuries), the commonly held belief was that exposure to information equaled learning. But this simply isn’t true: spending an hour listening to a classroom lecture or attending a four-hour seminar with no follow-up does not translate into meaningful learning, yet this remains the dominant model in many organizations.
There is some good news to be had in all of this: broken systems open the door for innovation, and that is exactly what is happening right now in education and training. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have swooped onto the scene, threatening commonly held beliefs and business models left, right, and center. I’ve said before that the main influence of MOOCs is pedagogical—they are changing the focus from knowledge to outcomes, from what students know to what they will be able to do. Using MOOC tools, instructors can design courses that do translate into meaningful learning because they are more closely aligned with how people actually learn.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 30, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Gamified simulations can change the way organizations train up; they have the ability to make normal, day-to-day business operational teaching more compelling and interactive. Gamification is just now beginning to be taken seriously within the simulation industry making organizations sit up and take notice. By utilizing game craft techniques we are able to make simulations that encompass serious concepts and bring them to life and mirror the real-world, just without the potential hazards for a wrong decision made and thus making every day ‘average experiences’ much more compelling. The incorporation of game dynamics through simulation is an intriguing concept and one that I am sure is here to stay.
Despite only being recently introduced, gamification is one of the largest movements of our time. When you stop to think about it you’ll realize that customer loyalty programs, such as frequent flyer miles, credit card reward programs and grocery club cards all encompass what gamification is designed to do; and that is rewarding interaction with tangible benefits. This idea is also able to transfer over into other aspects of life, such as a job promotion, being awarded a diploma, receiving a year-end financial bonus, and the list goes on. Although all of these concepts offer a reward in the end, they tend to lack certain elements that create an engaging experience for the user, this is where gamified simulations come into play (pun intended).
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 26, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Can simulations tell stories? The affirmative answer of yes suggests that gamified simulations built around narrative may be considered an anomaly by some seeing as how the term of gamification was only recently introduced. But for us it’s just common practice, so let me delve a little further into what I mean by narrative and how it has a profound affect on a gamified simulation.
Let’s first begin by further explaining narrative. By definition narrative is: A narrated account; a story. Alternatively, it’s the art, technique, or process of narrating. By further characterization, simulations are narratives; they have a story behind them. You can take a seemingly boring topic and actually breathe life into it to make it much more engaging for the trainee to learn. By utilizing a gamified simulation with narrative it aids in creating a story and context for a specific activity and makes learning more palatable.
“Narrative theory states that humans are primarily storytellers, thus people respond favorably to messages presented in a narrative framework” -Morgan, Cole, Struttman, & Piercy, 2002
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 24, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Since the introduction of Gamification a few years back some have begun to define the difference between Gamification Mechanics versus Gamification Dynamics. While there is a thin line between the two and it can be blurry at times, let me attempt to define each in the following post.
Gamification Mechanics: Also understood as verbs of gamification, in essence these are the elements that move the action (aka simulation) forward. Defined as the basic actions, control mechanisms and processes that are used to “gamify” an activity. These actions in which players take (“agency”) and the rules that limit those actions to create pressure (also known as “urgency”) are what make up game mechanics. The problem with the gamification mechanics definition is that is often a vague term to use “mechanics”. In essence it kind of becomes a catchall for operations and their effects. In effect anything that may seem related to how a game operates may be labeled as a “mechanic”. Granted, the essential idea behind gamification is to “just add in game mechanics.”
According to Gamification.org (http://gamification.org/wiki/Game_Mechanics) there are 24 types of gamification mechanics currently recognized, while I won’t define each one individually I will provide a list below of the 24 and most are pretty self explanatory without further definition needed.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 22, 2013 NO COMMENTS
This is your Brain on Games- The science behind gaming that proves gamification and simulation make sense
Computer and video gaming… It’s a $25 billion dollar entertainment business per year which in 2010 sold over 257 million video and computer games. While the first commercial video game hit the market over 40 years ago, the game industry has grown immensely in the past two decades. There are casual gamers and then there are serious gamers…a ‘serious gamer’ may be defined as someone who spends 20 hours a week on gaming or alternatively as an MMO addict that spends his/her days in the basement clocking in 40 to 80 hours a week spent trying to master a game. However, most research exhibits gaming from 5 to 10 hours per week as healthy and otherwise defined as ‘gaming in moderation’. Computer and video games can actually be looked at as a form of ‘brain training’; it’s an intuitive way to learn things (and actually retain what is learned).
When one is participating in a video type of game they enjoy intense determination, focus, a drive to achieve more, positive emotion… all of these are just a few ‘symptoms’ of gaming. Surprisingly, gamers are willing to fail 80 percent of the time. That’s a pretty high statistic compared to what people are willing do in daily life and how they feel they may fail. When you are immersed in a ‘game’ you amaze yourself at what you can accomplish. By participating in a state of play, it brings out our optimism and energy levels and actually has positive effects in a multitude of different ways.
“The opposite of play isn’t work- it’s depression.”- Jane McGonigal
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On July 15, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Forrester Research (http://www.forrester.com/Gamification+Level+Up+Your+Strategic+Approach/fulltext/-/E-RES95622) recently released a new study that highlights the fact that companies just don’t understand the concept of gamification well enough in order to make it work to their advantage. This helps to confirm the point that I have tried to make all along and that is… Companies and universities for the most part just don’t recognize the unique value proposition that gamification coupled with simulation technologies can bring to the organization to aid in training/teaching learners.
In the study, Forrester states that a company investing in gamification needs to know who their target audience is and what that audience finds as valuable. Also the organization must determine its business objectives and chart an action plan to reach them, and in addition use an “engagement loop to connect user motivations to those actions.” Past failures by some businesses have lead enterprises to question gamification applications even more so then they already were previously. The Forrester report also said, “It’s not gamification itself that fails, it is the poor application of gamification that does.”
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On June 20, 2013 NO COMMENTS
Gamification of Problem-Solving: It’s a relatively new term and may be a little trendy, possibly overhyped, and tends to be misunderstood as a subject. Let me delve a little deeper into painting a picture of what it is able to do (and solve). In essence gamification presents an innovative way to solve real-world problems in a simulated environment. We are seeing proven cases of success of it’s applications and it still has a lot of untapped potential and evolution to take place before making it full circle.
How can you solve problems through Gamification?
According to Karl Kapp, he states that: “It is one thing to teach someone how to solve a problem using gamification techniques; it is another to actually have people work on the problem itself. This is where gamification problem-solving projects like the U.S. military’s game platform for generating multiple ideas for defeating the Somali pirates, FoldIt, and Phylo come into play. Each of these gamified platforms has several similar components that can be employed when creating large scale gamification problem-solving efforts.”