Three Ideas for Adding Gaming into Any Deliverable or Curriculum
Posted: March 10, 2017
Games are undeniably fun for learners, and playfulness supports a more open learning atmosphere. Here are a few very simple things you can add to any deliverable or curriculum to benefit learners in a powerful way.
Match the game’s cognitive task to job requirements.
Games should be relevant to the job task. For example, you might use a matching card game to help learners master pairing the right set of nuts and bolts with the correct widget. In this example, the cognitive task of the game matches the cognitive task they will use on the job (matching nuts and bolts to the correct widget). This same learner might not benefit as much from a 20 questions guessing game because the cognitive task of the game (guessing) isn’t what he or she needs to learn.
Build in rewards.
A successful strategy we can borrow from games is that of consistent reward. Advance so many squares in Monopoly and you collect $200. Play a video game to a certain point without getting killed and you level up. Everyone likes to get feedback when they are on the right track. Surprise learners with frequent “you’ve got it right” feedback. Add progress bars to web-based training or incorporate progress wall charts for instructor-led training. Make a big deal out of “leveling up” and watch the learners’ motivation to master the next learning task go way up.
Make learning challenging.
Imagine you just installed a new video game on your computer. You open it up and with little or no instruction or information, you begin to play — and then you die. You try again, die, and try yet again. Eventually, you master the level. This “learn as you play” strategy is part of the magic of games, and we can employ it effectively in learning environments. The next time the gamer plays this level, they know what to do. When people have to work to learn, they remember the lesson better.
How do we use this in instructional design? Instead of spoon feeding training in a linear fashion, offer the learner small, individual chunks of information related to the task. Set the challenge of the task for the learner (by demonstrating what they will need to do on the job) and then encourage them to explore the learning segments using whatever method best serves their learning — like their own private Google, related specifically to the task at hand.
Games are fun, but what makes gaming truly effective for learning is the relevance to what the learners will do on the job.
About the Author
Linnaea Marvell has been developing and leading instructional design projects for more than thirty years. She is particularly passionate about instruction that works!