To round-off the ATD TK 2015 conference in Las Vegas, keynote speaker Katie Linendoll takes the stage. Linendoll is a global technology consultant, speaker, writer and media personality who contributes regularly to TheToday Show and The Huffington Post. Linendoll says that her work in media can provide several tips for the learning professional, to help us to a better job of improving people. Here is what she has to say…
Be a social chameleon
This line comes from Red Bull, where Linendoll started her career in marketing and sales. Going around the country meeting lots of different people, her mission was to educate people on the drink, at a moment when no-one knew it. The key for her was “creating rapport”.
If you want to connect to people, you need to “read the room” and adapt to people. If they say “awesome”, you say “awesome”. In short, like Covey told us with habit 5: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
Get trained yourself
If you want to be an expert in your space, you need to be able to walk-the-talk. This is not just about gathering and understanding the content, but about truly understanding the reality and the issues of the learners you are working with.
Comparing this to Robert Todd and Laura McBride’s session on the context conundrum, I was slightly critical of this point. I agree that we need to know what we are talking about. But in 2014, I think learning professionals have so many opportunities to not do this work themselves. The real experts are the learners themselves and the experts in the organisation. Surely they are better placed to bring that context to the learning initiative, or create and deliver content?
Clarify and simplify
Working for a shopping channel, Linendoll’s job was to get her message across in anything from 30 seconds to 1 hour. Feedback was immediate: If she couldn’t make it clear, there were no sales.
Work on your marketing and presentation skills. Even if you are a designer not delivering training yourself, the ability to make your point is key.
See also Connie Malamed’s work on how to really make your point with visuals.
…clearly the running theme of a conference called “TechKnowlege”, but still worth reinforcing one more time. The technology is there. Use it!
Too often in the learning world, we try to create clever things from scratch to achieve important goals. Linendoll reference the challenge of delivering books to Africa to help build literacy. Where some villages don’t even have good roads to get in there,, how are you going to deliver piles and piles of books? The answer: Don’t!
I’ll let you think of better tech solutions yourself…
Get your own style and have fun
People want to be entertained. Throw out your materials and forget the PowerPoint, says Linendoll. Bring some fun to learning and be authentic. Some people won’t dig it, but most will appreciate having an authentic real human in front of them.
…thanks for reading. Catch you at ATD ICE in May!
Links that for some reason WordPress wouldn’t let me add…
Scope: Big company, diverse functions, lots of data, regulatory + compliance needs, large geography, reduction in budget and a need for quality training.
ATD TK 2015 speakers: Kimberly Green and Erika Steponik of Blue Shield California.
Several years ago, Blue Shield took the classical approach to training:
Build something in-depth to deliver in a classroom and invite everyone there for a day.
If you have ever made such training, you know what the issues are: Time, budget, lost opportunities, attention, travel…
Today, they have opted for Nano Modules:
According to the speakers, these modules have multiple benefits: They are repeatable, scalable, flexible and much more economical.
To make it work, we were told to standardise the look and feel of the modules and catalogue them well. This leads to a good, secure and trustworthy feel for the users. In addition, it is important to have an intuitive centralised system that reduces barriers to access and learning. In short, once again, form sells function.
If I understood what Blue Shield is delivering to their learners, we are however only talking about giving pockets of knowledge.
I say “only” because I am not convinced that delivering knowledge = learning. But that doesn’t make the session irrelevant.
In Belgium, one of the organisations I work for is working hard to create a truly flipped-classroom experience. The concept is simple: Put the knowledge-acquiring part of learning out of the classroom so that training time is us to better effect. It works much better than before.
If we could further reduce and compartmentalise that knowledge-acquiring in the way Blue Shield have done, maybe we could make it even better.
Food for thought…
Thanks for reading
After a couple of days training in Holland and 2 very long flights, I have arrived in Las Vegas and it’s time for last-minute ATD TK15 planning. As I make my way through the massive amount of session choices for each day, I have compiled my wish-list for the week. If you can help a boy make his dreams come true, let me know…
Wish number 1: Bring some real value to the 6 people who are coming to my pre-conf workshop on “Getting Started with Social Media for Training”
6 people have trusted me with 4-hours of their time on Tuesday afternoon before TK15 goes into full-swing. In my pre-conference workshop, we will discover the value of YouTube, Padlet, Pearltrees and Socrative for training. I want them to walk out ready for action…
Wish number 2: Turn 15 dollars into 30 on the blackjack table.. .. and walk away
Last year, I took 200 dollars to the casino. I wanted to experience the casino (for the first time) but not get too sucked in. It lasted 43 minutes. I am the worst black-jack player ever.
This year, I’m taking 1 $15 chip and going all-in 🙂
Wish number 3: Get a Muppet interview for the Vegas Videos
Every time I go to a conference, I interview speakers and give mini-updates via my YouTube channel. Last year in Las Vegas I spoke with Chad Udell on the amazing possibilities of mobile and Jane Bozarth on building a community culture. At the ICE conference in Washington Anders Gronstedt talked to me about transmedia storytelling and … wait for it … I even managed to get an interview on learning with Sprokit the robot at the Smithsonian 🙂
This year, I will follow a session with Michele Lentz from Oracle on bringing the magic of Jim Henson to instructional design. And apparently a real Muppet will be present. That’s got to be worth an interview, right?
Wish number 4: Make people make more noise than ever before
It’s sad, but true: I get-off on positive auditive feedback. My wife will tell you that even if she sarcastically says “I love you” during an argument, I still take it positively.
Wish number 5: Follow these sessions and learn something new
Having been to 4 ATD conferences over the last 3 years, it seems harder each time to find new ideas. There are some great sessions planned on wider organisational learning topics which I will follow, like:
- How Geoff Stead has created an employee app-store at Qualcomm that get my attention
- ATD board-member Robert Todd of LinkedIn on a new approach to digital learning
- JD_Dillon of Kaplan will share how he has been breaking down organisational silos
To get the best from such a conference, it really depends on what focus you have during the week. I’m also hoping to get some new ideas as a trainer and to that end I will also follow:
- 2 sessions from Michelle Lentz: Finding Free Stuff for Training using Creative Commons and Fearless Instructional Design (with the Muppet !)
- Media Competences for Talent Professsionals with Jonathan Halls
Wish number 6: Make it through the week without being approached with help for any of my “party needs”
You may not know that I am apparently a US-drug-dealer magnet. I don’t know how it happens, but Denver, Dallas, Washington, Vegas, wherever… someone always tries to sell me something horrible. Credit to the last guy, who rather than outright asking “Do you need any crack, brother?” actually chatted me up for a while first with talk about the album he needed money to produce… I made it to my hotel… so far so good.
..and speaking of the hotel, I definitely owe fellow-speak Bianca Woods a beer. I was booked at Caesar’s Palace for over $200 a night, but she told me about the Flamingo just across the street. I have already saved $150 a night on the room. Which, by the way, is still awesome! Thanks Bianca!
Tune in for updates throughout the week.
Go Learning Geeks!
“Form follows function.” Designers have said this for years. And in the learning world, it is equally true: The learning initiative or environment (form) must be shaped to achieve its goals (function).
But the most successful product developers know another truth: “Form sells function”. The product can be designed to be perfectly functional, but if it doesn’t look beautiful, no-one will buy it. Case in point: Smart watches. For a few years now, it has been possible to buy a watch that allows you to surf the internet, play media and control your smartphone. But they aren’t beautiful, so only the geeks buy them. As Apple brings out its own smart-watch, you can expect a change in this market. Because it will be beautiful.
What does this mean for the learning world? If we follow the watch analogy through we see that, yes, effective learning professionals create functional initiatives. But when it comes to something new, do they forget that form sells function? Or are they making beautiful products like Apple?
If you are working on a new approach to learning in your organisation, don’t forget that your buyer is not the learning geek who will immediately see the functionality of your new product. The buyer is someone who is used to his “perfectly functional watch” and “can’t see why I’d need a new one”. So you have to make it beautiful too.
To make things beautiful, we can learn from both the designer and the marketer. Design creates beautiful objects; marketing creates a beautiful brand or experience. Design makes sure that what is in the box is awesome; marketing gets you to the box. Design ensures that what you take out of the box is durable and effective; marketing creates the unboxing experience.
If you are starting the New Year full of functional learning resolutions, please don’t forget to put some beauty in the form.
Thanks for reading
Following a sweet true-story-based and lovely introduction from Aaron Stroud, his wife Katie takes the stage to tell us about story for learning during session W202 of ASTD2014. She said that when she researched the topic herself, she found a lot of information about the importance of story and it’s benefits, but not much about how to actually go about developing a story for learning purposes. I’m glad to hear this, because I had the same experience. Of course, I have lots of little story-examples that I occasionally use to illustrate a point in training. They work well, people remember them and they can create some thought, humour and emotion. But what I want from this session is to find out HOW to turn a process of learning activities into a thin-red line that can enhance the learning experience across the training…
Katie started by telling her own rags to riches story * When listening, I was drawn to hear more and I started to like her more. (My neighbour said it didn’t really do anything for her). Stroud said that story activates the brain. It touches the senses and emotions. Because more of the brain is activated, it is more likely to be remembers and integrated.
* There are many other types of story (boy meets girls, Hero’s Journey …) which we are not necessarily going to see here.
To start making your story, you need first to define the problem in story-terms
- Background – my story is about an IT consultancy company. People have strong technical skills, but they aren’t capturing new opportunities that arise for time-to-time.
- Setting – in my world, the employees of this company are distant from their own company colleagues. They work on client-sites. The client’s building is very quiet, badly lit and “dry”. The workers on the client site don’t really talk to each other much.
- Conflict (the problem that stops us from success) – there is no time to talk, our hero is nervous and introverted. He doesn’t feel connected to or supported by his company while he is at his client-site. He doesn’t really feel like he can “win” or grow. He is unsure about how to proceed.
- Climax (the reward moment, when it all works out)
Then add detail about the suffering that is going on in the story
- Place it – where does the problem happen? My hero is at his desk, “hiding behind his computer”.
- Define it – what exactly is the problem. My guy gets a question from someone (his client) that he wasn’t expecting. It’s not part of his job and he feels uncomfortable dealing with it. Given his slightly introverted nature, it feels like unwelcome noise in his ears. “Please leave me alone to work”, he thinks.
- Scope it – what is the extent of this problem? For my guy, it’s not the first time he has felt like this. In fact, it happens in other social scenarios too. When he is with his few own good friends, everything is fine (albeit a bit geeky!). But when he has to talk to strangers (or a girl!) he doesn’t really know what to say.
- Solve it – define how it would be if everything was fine. My hero would breathe gently, relax, smile and look up (come out) from his computer to give his full attention to the client get to know what’s going on and then be able to confidently send an email to his business development manager detailing the situation, values and needs of the client.
Now define the characters
- Hero – the person in the story that is going through the problem and will come out differently at the end. He may also save a victim. My guy is Paul. He is an IT developer. He is usually quite quiet and tends to feel most comfortable with people he knows, talking about things he understands well. He has been working for 5 years since school and doesn’t feel like a “high-potential”.
- Victim – the one who is really “dying” in the situation. He needs help. He may even be attacked by a villain. I thought about a “rubbish guy who has no friends”. He always eats alone. He will never grow in his function. Our hero doesn’t want to end up like him in 5 more years.
- Supporting characters – the other people in the environment that have some kind of impact in the story (or competence problem/solution). I have the onsite client who is a normal business man who just wants good solutions. Friendly, to the normal extent. We have the client receptionist who is a nice young lady who has all the kinds of skills that our her ones, but doesn’t need them in her work. And we have an extrovert sales-guy from our hero’s firm, who is pushing (in a nice way) for more leads.
- Villain – the person (or “thing”) who has the behaviours that are going no to hinder the hero in his quest for success. In my story, this is the IT developer from a competing company. He’s not a bad guy at all, but if our hero doesn’t achieve his goal, this guy will.
Katie proposes that you don’t use real people from your business in the story, but focus on character types, personalities, (in)competence etc.. There are some classic personality types you can bear in mind: Dominating people, passive people, manipulators… She also noted that you don’t need to literally translate the story. In my case, I could have taken the story entirely out of the IT world and just used a “boy meets girl, but can’t get to know her” story as an analogy. Given the wish to integrate this story into a training with an existing client in the IT sector, I preferred to “keep it real”.
Choose the story model you need to make your point
With the background in mind, each story has to have 4 phases: Setting, conflict, climax and resolution. But they don’t have to be presented in that order, or in the same way. There are 4 models ways to proceed.
- The first model under consideration is used for introducing something new in your training, like a skill or attitude. Here you need to focus on the climax phase at the beginning of the story. You talk about the moment when the problem is being solved. This will help to introduce the behaviours and attitude required to achieve success. Of course, in this story model, we may go back in time to the status-quo as the story/training evolves.
- For technical skills training, you need to put a lot of time into characters early. This will create more empathy from the learners. How you proceed through the story phases noted above is flexible from there on.
- If you are trying to get better adoption of something new (process, solution, tools) where there is resistance, you need to focus on the resolution phase first. This will help to build the feeling of potential benefits (of the new thing) for the learner and build an image of a better world when the change is completed. Yo ur can compare this to the visualisation exercise seen in Juanita Coble’s session.
- If your issue is creating memory, you need to focus first more on the territory of the story (background and setting), using good memory-enhancing skills. If you can do this in a visual way like Hans Rosling does, you’ll definitely achieve this!
Can everyone create a good story?
Having gone through the exercises in the session, I have the feeling that there may be one major barrier for instructional designers and trainers to actually get started with this. Personally, I am loving it and finding it very easy. I like new ideas, I find it easy to think of analogies, be a little out of the box and go through the steps. But not everyone can do this, or like it. * During the session, many participants were asking closed (yes/no) questions to the speaker. For example: “Could the villain be “time” rather than a person?” The fact that they didn’t just say “I think the villain could be time, rather than a person” seemed implied to me that people were feeling uncertain about their ideas, needing reassurance.
* Interestingly, whilst taking us throughout the steps, Katie used story to introduce us to a friend of hers (Eric) who hates to learn new things and finds it difficult to do what she asks. He suffers, he pulls his hair out and doesn’t know what to do. Very clever meta-approach to her session!
OK, so where exactly is THE story?
If you read this blog and think I still don’t have a story, you may have missed the point. We are not writing a novel here. No-one in a learning environment today would read it if we did that anyway! We are also not talking about making a full “Who moved my cheese?” type training workshop, bade exclusively on the story. The story IS the characters, the setting, the conflict, climax and resolution. How and when you present during training it is up to you:
- Occasionally, you might actually tell a part of the story as an introduction to a training moment
- You might have a PowerPoint slide with one of the characters + a speech-bubble mentioning a problem he or she has, which you use this to generate discussion about the required approach to the situation
- You might do a role-play at one moment where the trainer or a participant plays one of the characters so that another participant can show us how the hero should act
- You could implement some of the ideas from Anders Gronstedt’s session on TransMedia Storytelling
…and if you do the things and do them well, you will have a thin-red-story-based-line which learning participants can relate to, may feel emotional about, are more likely to remember and more likely to learn from.
Session SU101 of the 2014 ASTD ICE is proof that you really DO need to get there on time. As the fire marshals hold fort on the main door, I sneaked in around the back to secure one of the final seats in what is clearly a popular session: Josh Davis on the “NeuroScience of Learning”, which promises to supply general design principles for how to create behavior change in leaders…
Davis is interested in why many one-shot training sessions don’t stick and don’t make the change they were designed to achieve. Asking the audience, we can see that almost everyone finds that people learn at their training events, but then never use what they learn and end up forgetting it. Why is this? The NeuroLeadership Institute has been trying to find out why.
At the root of the problem is the hippocampus, which deals with attention, generating links, emotions and spacing. Due to its central position is the brain, the hippocampus is responsible for coordinating the neural connections required to create memory and habit. To create a rich web of connections in the brain, you need to engage the hippocampus.
Davis starts by telling us about attention. Attention is not designed to last. It is designed to keep looking around and being aware of what’s going on. If you don’t, you die. Simple.
Attention can last about 20 minutes. And of course, in the training game, we tend to work a lot more than that! But in today’s learning environment, we must be aware that we are fighting more-and-more for attention from participants. According to one study, today’s multi-tasking high-media users have significantly diminished capacity for attention. Even when asked to remember something for just 1 minute, they do a lot worse than their non-connected single-focused colleagues. But it’s worse than that: Their multi-tasking tweeting, iPhoning activities is making it harder for the others to pay attention.
What’s the point? Single focus of attention is required to tell the hippocampus that what we are looking at is something to recall. Divided attention doesn’t do that.
Once you have attention, the ability to generate links to what you already have in your brain becomes important…
Don’t forget, the hippocampus is trying to make links in the brain. It tells puts together everything that is going on about feelings, visual stimuli, thoughts, previous knowledge and memories etc.. As learning professionals, we need to help it.
If you want to help the hippocampus to do this, there are a few things to do:
- Metacognition (or thinking about thinking) is a great approach. Self-reflection on the learning process generates more connections, which will make the content more easy to recall. For example if we were trying to remember a specific word, we could think about how it looks on the paper, or how it sounds in our ears when we speak it out loud. We try to get the brain more aware of what is going on while it processes the information.
- Retrieval strategies are all about practising recall of what is being processed. If you don’t test retrieval, your chances are significantly lower of remembering than if you practised remembering several times.
- Insight activities or moments help to promote memory of content. If you can create real “ah-ha” moments, where people finally “get-it” your participants will be more likely to remember. Davis says that this is because the “ah-ha” insight moment adds a level of emotion to the experience.
Davis offers some simple strategies you can use in training: Polling, guided reflection on personal experiences, note-making, explaining ideas to others (and creating tweetable messages or mini-presentations) and hearing ideas from others.
Third tip: Scare people!
…OK, not really. But kind of! Davis explains that because of the proximity of the amygdala to the hippocampus, if we can create emotion in learning, there is more chance to build attention and lasting memory.
As we are more emotionally aroused, the amount of catecholamines released into the brain by the amygdala changes. Davis says that we need to find the sweet spot of optimal-arousal that improves attention, but not so much that things get scary.
Tactics for trainers to influence emotion in the room include those covered by NeuroLeadership Institute CEO David Rock in this paper on SCARF. During the session, Davis asked us to look for other ways. He gave us 90-seconds and told us to write hem down. Afterwards, he added that he did this to create a little pressure. That little bit of negative-emotion can improve attention. So can sweets, humour, music…
Finally: Spacing in the learning process
It’s not enough to just throw something into the memory and hope it stays there. We have to grow the memories. By building in moments of rest and reactivation, people are more likely to remember things. Three strategies:
- If you come back to them later (repetition) with questions and reinforcement of content, they are more likely to remember.
- If you can change the context of what is being learnt (or even where it is being learnt), this is also more likely to make sticky learning.
- Sleep! Yes, really!
I had contacted Josh Davis prior to the session to ask him if the session was going to be very “deep” and heavy on facts, figures, statistics and studies (all of which I am allergic to in conferences). He told me that the session was scoped for starters, people with not much knowledge about NeuroScience. I am pleased to report that that was the case and as a very positive outcome, I have learnt something: If you want to make learning stick, you need 4 strategies to engage the hippocampus.
Thanks for reading!
Dr Kella Price is giving us the low-down on the added-value of QR codes in learning. As an experienced user of many-things internet, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s new and how to get the best out of the QR principle. Everyone in the room has at least scanned a QR before, so we are all ready to learn more….
A QR code is basically a link. You’ve surely seen one before somewhere. They look like this. At my children’s school, all the kids have QRs on a keyring attached to their bags for 2 reasons: In the case of an emergency, it is linked to contact details of their parents; when they stay at the crèche late at school, it is used to automatically create invoices for the service, based on the check-in/check-out time.
Why use these QR codes at work? What is the real value? Where should I put them?
The first thing to know is that people do scan these codes. In 2013, 181 QR codes were scanned every minute. Training participants today have mobile devices and they like to use them. Letting them use their devices in a training environment should therefore be…. (wait for it) …. engaging.
And the application possibilities are enormous. You can give them resources and information and create real-time interactivity.
According to Dr Price, the biggest value in any activity we do with these codes is the conversion rate of request/action. For example, if you send an email to people asking them to do something like enroll for a training or take a survey (request) you might get a conversion rate (action) of “X”. Price says that if you to integrate QR codes in other media you will get more than “X”. What kind of media actions are we talking about? Where can we add QR codes?
- Add to a pay-check
- Put on a poster, flyer or newsletter
- Give new joiners in your company a key-ring with a QR code on it
- Put on a business card
- …or the photocopier
- … or anywhere else!
What kind of actions can these QR codes produce?
Here, Dr Price is quite clear: The possibilities are endless. If you have an internet resource to share, put it in a code.
Some learning examples include:
- Adding additional resources to training materials
- Running a survey with tools like SurveyMonkey or padlet.com
- Pushing people to your blog or YouTube channel
…what ideas can you think of to bring value to your training?
Where can I make a QR code? Can you do something special with your code?
There are lots of free QR code-creation sites online. Some are better than others because they create good value images or can be customized.
- Personally I use tiny.cc because its easy
- Today I found unitaglive.com in Dr Price’s session, which allows you to create custom codes including rounded-edges, different colours and even a logo or photo. It also has some templates with integrated logos for classic sites like Facebook, LinkedIn etc…
- We also discussed using bit.ly which when used with an account allows you to store all your QR codes for future use and (BIG added value) run analytics on the number of times your code has been scanned and via which sources
- With http://www.youscan.me you can create 1 code that links to various sites at once (cool!)
- When adding pictures to your QR code, do not make it bigger than 30% of the code size
- Never cover up the “eyes” in the 3 corners of your QR code and don’t add anything in the bottom-right corner
- Avoid light colours
- Use colours for meaning. For example, if you split training content into 4 sections, use a distinct colour per QR codes found in each section.
- When using the QR code in training materials, put a link underneath for those who don’t have a scanner
- …and customize that link to make it short and keyword friendly
Other resources and ideas can be found here:
- Book: “111 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes“
- Book: “40 Ways to Use QR Codes for Mobile Marketing“
- Book: “QR codes for Dummies“
- Book: “QR Codes for Education“
- A book explaining why you should NOT use QR codes: “QR Codes Kill Kittens“
Thanks for reading
If, like me, you believe gamification for learning is worth exploring, you might be getting started on your first attempts at game design. When you have your basic idea for a game or how to bring game-mechanics into a learning initiative, what do you need to keep in mind to be successful? What specific game design principles must be followed? Julie Dirksen suggests the following….
Feedback mechanisms have to be used well
Dirksen says that to create good learning you need to give extremely frequent feedback, in diverse ways.
EA sports games are designed so you have to make a decision every 1-2 seconds and you get feedback on this every 7-10 seconds. Knowing where you are and how your behaviour has impact on results is important to keep players in flow. Flow is one major reason why gamified learning is more motivating than non-gamified learning.
As your game starts, build in feedback mechanisms that help players to learn how the game works and how they can progress. This approach is also used a lot in video games. The player is taken through simple situations in order to learn the rules of the environment and how to control her actions. When enough feedback has been given to really understand the basic principles, we can throw in something to take them to the next level of the game.
Another important element in giving feedback is to make it seem more “consequential”. This means that the feedback style itself is linked to the context or impact of the behaviour that leads to it. The example given is of a safety/security training: Instead of giving a simple verbal or text-based feedback that says “wrong answer”, players get a big noisy “BOOM!!” sound with a scary message about having just blown up the facility. In this way, the feedback style is linked to the desired learning and the environment in question.
According to Dirksen, these kinds of feedback approaches are far more effective than random badges and points that go no-where.
People only give their attention if they want to
When Dirksen asks “How long can you pay attention to something?” the participants of session W306 are careful not to give big numbers. Thinking of our own school experience and what trainers tell us in “Presentation Skills” training, we know it can’t be too long and we answer “about 10 minutes”.
“But it’s not true”, says Dirksen, adding that “some people watch all 3 extended “Lord of the Rings” movies back-to-back at the cinema.”
The fact is that if you give players/learners/spectators what they want, they will give you their attention. In my opinion, the following 3 ideas will help:
- Start with an open-loop to build intrigue (see notes on Karl Kapp’s session)
- ..but be sure they finally do get the answer to the 3 most important questions
- Be sure the structure of the game becomes known (easily) to the players
People respond best to relevant rewards they get now
Dirksen spoke to us about the way rewards should be used in gamified learning.
In much training, participants don’t really realise “what is in it for them” until quite late in the process. And the rewards that are given for learning or game performance (feedback or other rewards) are not given until quite late, maybe only after the game. But psychology and everyday life show many examples of how people focus more on immediate rewards and less on rewards that comes later. The obvious example is of smokers who choose to have un-healthly pleasure now over health (or lack of bad-health) later. The major exception to this basic rule is that if the reward appears to be very high, we will be willing to wait for it. (And the further away the reward is, the bigger it needs to be.)
So unless you have a really good pay-off, bring in game rewards early on.
Rewards also have to be meaningful to the learner. Random badges, points and prizes do not improve game performance over time. Dirksen gave the example of how the inherent reward of the learning itself in a maths class could be better tailored to fit participants by using problems and examples that are related to their own reality. For example, for future entrepreneurs who need maths training, rather than creating a random maths game, you could create a maths-game around the ideas of successfully running a business.
This last point reinforces another Dirksen tip: Match game deliverables to desired behaviours and business deliverables
Dirksen showed as a simple game created for call-centre learners who needed to remember not to give away sensitive information to competitors who might call them pretending to be clients. In order to achieve this, they were asked to play a game where different logos floated down the screen and they had to shoot the ones of their competitors. Although the first look might suggest this is fine (it reinforces the idea that competitors are “bad”) Dirksen said it failed on several levels:
- In reality, call-agents do not see the logos of their competitors when they call. The game did not involve the actual behaviours they should look (or listen!) out for.
- Most call-agents do not have guns at work 🙂 The winning game behaviour did not match the desired real-life behaviour.
- The game-behaviour was very aggressive and might encourage call-agents to be aggressive towards any competitors they did encounter in their calls.
Challenges must be incremental and in line with the players current competence
If I place my daughters by the tennis court opposite the Williams sisters, not only will they lose, but they will likely find it very stressful and not learn very much. To be effective with gamified learning, challenges must fall within the “flow-zone”…
According to Dirksen, much traditionally training falls into the boring side of the chart, not because it is inherently boring, but because of the lack of challenge. Using a gamified approach, we can create challenge, but we must be careful not to go too far too quickly as this can bring stress to the learner. And as competence rises, so must the gamified challenge…
Having listened to Dirksen and Kapp at the ASTD2013 ICE, I had the opinion that many elements of my own training could be dramatically improved by the use of game. But even if I don’t want to gamify things, I think it is important to align training with these principles of feedback, attention, reward, deliverables and challenge.