Tag Archives: Gamification

Gamification and Super User Training

28 Jun

In recent weeks I’ve been developing a lesson plan for Super User training on a communication device called Vocera.

These Super Users will not only deliver training to front line staff in the future, but they will be also providing support to staff on the floor. Many of these Super Users have limited or no experience of Vocera, so naturally feel nervous about becoming Super Users.

As such, the challenge to me has been to design a training session that makes Super Users confident experts on Vocera in under two hours.

To achieve this, I didn’t want to just dump information. An information overload on what the device could do, would be too much in a one-off two-hour training session. And I didn’t want to rely on a ton of resources that the Super Users may never read or use. Instead I wanted to create a training session that would be structured but allow learners to develop their expertise in a multi-levelled manner. A bit like a computer game.

“Gamification” in relation to education has become quite a buzzword in recent years. While I really like the idea of creating an immersive gaming environment for learners to lose themselves in, the reality is I don’t have the time or resources to develop such an environment. Instead, I think where “gamification” can be most useful, is in applying the concepts of gaming to develop skills and competencies in the classroom.

This is best explained in an excellent blog post by Jo Cook. In the post, Jo refers to a presentation by Julie Dirksen about how traditional classes are “like constantly cycling uphill with more and more new things to learn.” Julie instead suggests structuring classes so they are more like a game, where they “start off easy then add more information, speed up the process and so on to the end challenge.”

In terms of introducing concepts of gaming, this approach seems more achievable for the instructional designer. And arguably, the training session should be more beneficial for the learner, especially when they are tasked to become experts.

I’ll find out in the coming weeks …

Playing Games at the Departmental Meeting

27 Jul

Last week I had the opportunity to chair the departmental meeting. This meeting is essentially a chance for staff to catch up with what is going on within the department, with updates from the director and senior management.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the meeting however, is the team exercise/event that occurs after the departmental updates. This usually involves something creative, either an amazing video from YouTube or some sort of group game. Last week, I decided to play a game, one that would be both engaging and appeal to the competitive side of the department.

So I picked up the book Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo and started to scroll through the table of contents. Eventually I settled on the “Challenge Cards” game. The idea of the game is to identify and think through challenges with a product. You have two teams. One team, the “solution” team brainstorms features and strengths of the product. The other team, the “challenge” team brainstorms potential problems with the product. Both teams write their solutions/challenges down on an index card.

The game starts by picking an index card from the “challenge” team pile. The “solution” team must pick a card from their deck that addresses the challenge. If they have the solution they get a point, and if they don’t the “challenge” team gets a point. You continue until you reach a natural conclusion.

For the departmental meeting, I decided that the product should be hosting the Olympic Games. It was a topic that wasn’t work related but was topical and people could relate to (the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games were only 2 years ago). I split the department into two teams (“solution” vs “challenge”) and let the games begin.

The game itself was a lot of fun, and people were really engaged (as well as competitive). However, what I found most fascinating were the range of challenges as well as solutions that the teams identified. It demonstrated to me a depth of critical thinking, as well as creativity sometimes lacking in our regular work related brainstorming meetings.

As such, I hope the playing of the “Challenge Card” game has planted a seed within the department. Perhaps we need to rethink our regular brainstorming meetings and start “gamestorming.”

The gamification of education and gaining experience points

13 Jan

Recently, a co-op student that I work alongside described a university course that he attends where the professor had turned the course itself into a game. If you attend class, you gain experience points. The more points you gain, the higher level you reach. These points/levels would at the end of the course be translated into a grade.

For me, this approach added a new wrinkle to the debate about the gamification of education.

The original idea of “gamification” saw educators/instructional designers applying the concept of game design to actual learning. This had clear learning benefits, from developing problem solving skills to improving learner engagement.

But I would suggest that turning the architecture of learning, i.e. a course, into a game offers something new.

A recent blog post by Nick Simons at Saffron Interactive explores this “something new” further. Nick writes, “gamification doesn’t simply mean designing and implementing serious games for changing behaviour and/or improving performance.” Instead he suggests that there are “many more, and possibly better, opportunities to use ‘game design techniques and mechanics’ for workplace learning than that.”

One of these opportunities, I would argue, is turning a course into a game. When I asked my co-worker whether his professor had explained why he had turned his course into the game, my co-worker said the professor had witnessed a decrease in student motivation and attendance as the course progressed. To combat the decline, the course itself became a game. Perhaps this professor is onto something!