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Gamification for Learning & Instruction - NYU Higher Ed and eLearning Joint SIG meeting

Thursday, April 26, 2012   (0 Comments)
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I'm finally ready to admit that I have been a computer gamer for many years, but only now feel it's safe enough to admit it. Why? Because gamification is now all the rage. If you don't believe me, just look around you on the subway the next time you're travelling in NYC and you'll notice people intently looking at their cell phones playing everything from "Angry Birds" to "Tetris" to "Solitaire".  Marketers and advertisers are adding game element like badges, status indicators, and leaderboards to encourage people to buy their products.  But how can we best use games to enhance learning and what are the game elements that make for effective learning?

That question was the main focus on April 26th at the NYU Higher Ed and eLearning SIG joint SIG meeting.  We were fortunate to have Karl Kapp, Professor/Consultant at Bloomsburg University, stop by on his national book/blog tour to present highlights from his latest book "The Gamification of Learning & Instruction".  The evening was energizing and engaging as we participated in a business simulation where we were assigned a role and had to negotiate with our table-mates to determine what business to be in and how to position it. In a very short time, the groups were completely immersed in the game. When Karl debriefed the game, and asked us a few questions, it was apparent that we had learned the key objectives without any formal training.

Karl started out by asking us what questions we had when playing games such as pong, space invaders, Oregon Trail and Myst.  One surprising fact is that the highest growing segment of casual gamers is women over 40 ‰ÛÒ who are playing casual games which are those that don't require a high time commitment. (Think "angry birds").

He noted that whenever training for life or death situations is needed, games are often the method of choice (i.e. flight simulators for pilots, health care simulations for doctors/hospital staff). Karl pointed out that trainers are often guilty of creating scenarios that are not challenging enough. For example, a hospital asked if they should have patients die in their simulation. (Karl's answer: Yes!).

Karl presented research showing that the situations don't have to be fun to be educational ‰ÛÒ it's much more important to make them engaging.  And simulation games often build confidence back on the job.  In one study, participants in the simulation showed 20% higher confidence rate on the job than those in a traditional classroom experience.

According to Karl's research, the four elements of games that aid learning are:

  1. Stories and Challenges ‰ÛÒ people learn and retain much more when the information is presented within a story.  Consider starting your training with a scenario that places the learner in the story.
  2. Levels ‰ÛÒ include scaffolding for beginners that isn't used for advanced learners. Ideally, adaptive learning.
  3. Freedom ‰ÛÒ games provide feedback throughout, where most elearning only provides feedback at the end. Leaderboards compare your success to others, however leaderboards are most successful when participants can choose who to compete with.
  4. Freedom to Fail ‰ÛÒ in classroom, you may get only one try, but games start with expectation that you fail to try again and have multiple attempts to succeed.

To top off the evening, Karl raffled off copies of his book to two lucky winners.

Dr. Kapp was kind enough to provide his presentation here on Slideshare.

If you have any interest in making your learning programs more effective, you owe it to yourself and your learners to consider using games as part of your instructional strategy. 
The book is highly recommended and you can purchase it from Amazon or from the ATD bookstore (use our chapter 
code : CH1026):  

Additional resources for the book :

Pinterest page for the book 

Facebook page  

Twitter hashtag #gamili

Karl Kapp on twitter: @kkapp

Karl's blog


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