Gamification is the use of game-based mechanics or game thinking to promote learning, motivate action and solve problems.
In the US, the military have used massive open online multiplayer games to define military strategy in Somalia, combatting problems with pirates. Others, like the fun theory folk, have used game mechanics to encourage people to use the stairs or recycle bottles or stop speeding. The applications are numerous. What can we do with this in learning?
According to Kapp, many of the things we do in learning do not inherently tap into the natural motivations of the user. We invite people to partake in static learning environments and hope that they will get involved and change behaviour. Sitting in a training room, experts share models and ideas, we take part in reality-based exercises and try to integrate what we are learning. It can be a struggle to learn or keep the attention and effort of participants, many of whom would sometimes rather be elsewhere. If we used some game-mechanics in the same way companies like EA or the Angry Birds people did, we could do so much better.
The first things Kapp told us is that great games are about interactivity and immersion. They are not about awesome graphics, or franchises linked to movies. In fact, some of the most expensive-to-develop games are vey disappointing for the user and do not result in much flow or satisfaction. In reality, game-based activities can be very simple. Like my experiment with gamification at the dinner table.
So: It’s not about points
Although games like Adobe’s “Level Up” up can work well, the first thing to know is that gamification is not (only) about adding points or leaderboards to show progress or reward people for their efforts. In a comedy conference moment, Kapp noted that if that was true, progress wars would be the most popular game on the planet. On a more serious note, he asked us to think about what happens at home and in schools when gold-stars are used to motivate children to behave well: It works at the start, but before you know it you are negotiating more-and-more rewards to get the same behaviour. If money, sweets, stars or points are the only tools you have to motivate people, you are doomed to fail. Gamification is much more than that. That misunderstanding is the reason why Gartner says many gamification attempts will fail.
What can you do to use gamification in learning?
The possibilities with gamification are enormous, ranging from using one or two simple game mechanics to enhance the learning experience, to creating complete games as the entire learning solution, to simply piggy-backing on a non-relevant game to pass across important messages. Regarding this let option, Kapp told about one company that asks their people to play a simple online game for 2 minutes a day and during the this seemingly random game, a mini-quiz question related to safety and security pops up to remind them of important procedures. Nobody minds this corporate intrusion, because they are still having fun for 99%.
What kinds of game-mechanics are we talking about?
Again, there are SO many options. When I spoke at the Epsilon conference on the topic of gamification, I noted 9 game-mechanics that could be interesting to integrate in learning programs. The Wikipedia entry on game mechanics offers others.
Kapp spoke about a few in detail. These are listed here… Concrete applications for your learning tracks and training are discussed later…
- Context and story is used a lot in games. Players are immersed in appealing environments that makes sense to them. You can read about my user-experience with “Zombies, Run!” in this short article on the ASTD blog page: “The Gamification Experience – What Does It Feel Like?”
- Missions and levels are used to “up” the challenge and give players something to strive for
- Open-ended problems and mystery create learner intrigue
- Fantasy is used to get learners out of their known environment. A game like “Merchants” can be used to create negotiation skills, whilst playing a venetian trader
- Immediate feedback is used in games like Pacman to let you know all the time where you are and how you are doing
- Characters and avatars can be used to improve motivation
Simple game-based ideas for trainers and instructional designers to implement today
- Don’t start training with learning objectives. It is a closed-loop that tells you what you need to know. It doesn’t intrigue. Try instead to start with an open-loop. Create a challenge that gets people involved and motivated. For example, give them a question or activity that gets them thinking immediately about a problem they have to solve.
- Give people lives to lose. This gives permission to fail. When we get 3 lives at the start of a game, we immediately understand the assumption that we are going to die and that it’s OK.
- Give feedback in different ways. This could be points and progress bars. Or it could be sound… Kapp spoke about security compliance training that used a big “boom” sound and the image of an explosion to reinforce incorrect behaviour and “scare” participants into not wanting to do it again!
- Use characters and story in exercises that take people a little bit out of their natural working context
- ..but don’t forget that those activities must be linked to the actual learning. Don’t use random challenges or ice-breakers.
- When you use a game-based exercise in training, be sure to introduce it in the same way you would do any other exercise: Introduction, play, debrief.
- Be sure to test, dry-run and retest your game efforts to get feedback on how they work and be sure you are using them to reinforce the right behaviours.
If like me, you are wondering how to actually INVENT games, Kapp gives some simple advice in this short interview I conducted for Kluwer at ASTD.
For more resources, check out:
- My Prezi on gamification
- My Twitter interview with ex-VOV MOOCer Karen Philips on how to get started with gamification
- Malone’s 4 motivational drivers
- Kapp’s awesome book: “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction”
Rick Lozano is engaging people. Correction: He is ROCKING people. Literally. With a guitar!
During ASTD2013 session TU100 we are learning about what the world of rock and roll can bring to training. Rick thinks that too much training is boring, dry and non-engaging. Here are 15 ideas inspired by rock concerts and the music world that you can bring into your training to create more energy:
- Send a trailer introducing the key concepts of your training
- Ask participants to introduce themselves by video before training
- Make a poster pointing the way to the room
- Shake hands with everyone at the door
- Have some music on when people come in the room
- Be creative with your materials, table gear, toys etc…
- Use Vine App during training – ask participants to make a random stop-motion video
- Gamify your training class by giving points for random things like showing up on time
- Get them taking pictures of each other during training
- Ask participants to go and record a mini-film (interview) of your problem on the work-floor, like a journalist
- Take requests from your participants – ask them RIGHT NOW what you can deliver, tell or give right now
- Get people to stand up. Do some energy-raising exercises.
- Do something different for a minute. Just a minute. Anything.
- Use pallet.com to collect ideas during training
- Create your own app with yapp.us so people can share their experience after training
The basic idea is that we can do more to engage people, thank them for their time and make learning more fun.
My first worry was that people in Belgium might not dig it and I can imagine a lot of my colleagues saying “It’s too American” or “We’re engineers… This is stupid”. Well, let’s just see about that… To something and see if you can bring a little rock into your learning world.
Thanks for the music Rick!
There are SO many ways to approach learning. This post is the beginning of a learning methods A to Z, based on ideas I have been collecting and discussing in various conferences and workshops… If you have ideas, please comment and I will add them!
- Agenda tracking (time-tracking – see when you are most productive etc..)
- Allowing mistakes
- Asking auestions
- Back-channel learning (eg using Twitter # to support non-present learning participants or see for example, LnDDave‘s ASTD2012 ICE back-channel blog page)
- Blogs (like this one… or related to specific topics, lessons…)
- Bottom-Up Innovation (eg: Kluwer Inspiration Market)
- Brown Paper Sessions
- Buddy System (as originally used in diving, climbing etc.. now used in onboarding and induction)
- Business Games (see also “Serious Games”)
- Case Studies
- Challenge (something to stretch you out of your comfort zone)
- Coaching (defined here as “helping other people to find their own answers to their own questions” – in contrast to “mentoring”)
- Collaboration (just working together leads to learning too!)
- Curating content (maybe using tools like Paper.Li or Pearltrees)
- Digital libraries, virtual bookshelf (like Shelfari.com)
- Documents (templates, company processes)
- Emailing (communication updates, tips and tricks…)
- Exercise (eg security drills, fire alarms)
- Evaluation (thus improving self-knowledge…)
- InfoGraphics (like this one.. you can stick them on walls like posters, email or share via SoMe sites…)
- Info Sessions (basic knowledge sharing sessions)
- “In my shoes” (another name for “job rotation“)
- Innovation (maybe using a tool like “IdeaScale“)
- Intervision (like “supervision”, but between peers)
- Job-aids (eg posters, quick reference guides, cheatsheets and other things on or near the place of work to remind processes or important behaviours)
- Job rotation
- Job shadowing
- Job sharing
- Knowledge pool (or competence matrix (per person))
- Knowledge management
- Knowledge sharing sessions (also known as “info sessions”)
- Language Lunches (native speakers of one target language eat lunch with non-native speakers in order to improve language skills)
- Learning Narration
- Learning Tracking
- “Lunch and Learn”
- Member associations
- Mentoring (defined here as “giving people expert answers to their questions” – in contrast to “Coaching“)
- (Meeting) Minutes
- MOOC – get some MOOC tips here, courtesy of @elearningPosts
- Mystery caller (common method in retail/call-centre environment for assessing service and (later) giving feedback)
- Note-making; note-taking (maybe done socially by a group of people)
- On-the-Job training
- “Parrainage” (when joining a company, a “godfather” is assigned to a new joiner who can tell you simple things like, for example, where the photocopier is or who to speak to about your car expenses…)
- Peer Coaching (like Coaching, but done in groups between people in similar functions or levels)
- Personal Knowledge Management
- Portfolio sharing – (eg Dribbble)
- Presentations (which might be shared online using tools like SlideShare or Prezi)
- Problem solving
- Q+A sessions
- Quality monitoring (common in call-centres, for example)
- Round Table events
- RSS readers or RSS feed
- Satisfaction Surveys
- Search engines
- Serious Games
- Social Learning (learning that takes place with other people, via connectivity and sharing)
- Social Media (web 2.0 sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- Social Networking (often done using “social media”, a connected network of people who share and work together)
- Scrum Meetings
- Team Building Events
- Time out
- Tinkering (thanks @rotanarotana for this idea)
- Trade magazines
- Trial and Error
- Video (eg YouTube or other platforms as used, for example, in “BT Dare to Share“)
- Virtual reality 5platforms like, for example, “”Second Life“)
- Walking around
- Water-cooler chatting
- Whiteboard sessions
Thanks for reading!
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Tomorrow the Belgian media and learning world will say goodbye to Bob De Groof, deceased earlier this week. Much has been shared and said about Bob this week via Twitter and at the end of this post, I will direct you to those “in memoriams”. If you knew Bob, I invite you to think of him tomorrow morning and if you want to know how I knew him, read on…
Read the 2005 article “Wie is Bob De Groof?” from De Standaard and you will see that by the time I was watching Star Wars for the first time, Bob had already done so much as a media-man in Belgium. I can’t add anything to his career notes, as I simply don’t know enough. I just wanted to share 4 of my own Bob stories, to share what Bob means to me. These stories remind me of an inspiration, an industry standard and one of the world’s last true gentlemen.
Bob is an early morning chat about what’s important in life, about following your dreams.
I first met Bob in 2006 at Logica, when I hired his “Presentation Skills” training services with Kluwer. As “Training and Development Manager” of that company, I was looking for the highest standard of trainer to help the top managers in the company to improve their ability to pitch, tell a story and sell a solution. Enter Bob. At 7.30am.
Aside from me and Bob, no-one was generally around at that time in the office, so we got to chatting. (Don’t tell my ex-boss!). In fact, every time Bob would come to Logica, we would spend about an hour before the working day waxing lyrical about everything from the day’s news to my kids or his, travel or everyday stuff. One day, I told him I wanted to be a “Presentation Skills” trainer myself and he encouraged me to follow my professional dreams. If I wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing, I should change it. Simple as that. Extremely polite and “correct” in his speech, I found in Bob a certain “direct authority” combined with the kind of objective but caring friendliness you might expect from a favourite uncle.
Bob is one of 3 or 4 people that really inspired me to make the decision to go it alone and do my thing. I’m very grateful.
Bob will always be THE standard. The point of reference for excellence in his domain.
At the end of the very first training Bob delivered at Logica, 2 of the manager/participants came to see me. I was worried. Had I made a mistake? Did Barbara Verscheuren sell me a dud? Far from it! They came to tell me that it was amazing to have such a trainer. “How could one man have SO MUCH experience to share?” Despite their years of pitching business, Bob was able to bring real value and improve their presentations. He was a master in “Presentation Skills”.
Jump forward to 2010: Kluwer asked me to pick up some of Bob’s training. What a compliment! I remember telling my wife that I (yes, little me!) had been asked to take over for Bob. (Yes, for Bob!!). I never pretended to be able to fill his shoes, but I was damn-well going to do my best to fly his flag high! I still am.
Bob makes you feel good about being whatever you are.
That’s a rare talent, I think. I do know one other person who comes close, but its still rare. When I was with Bob, I felt like I was the most important person in the world. Not because I was, but because he made me feel like I was. I don’t know if he consciously made an effort to find and tap-into the things that made people tick, if he knew he did it and did it on purpose, or if that’s just Bob. But it was the same everytime.
In particular, I remember one evening where all the Kluwer trainers got together on a barge in Leuven for a cooking party. As I left the boat, I bumped into Bob and Helena Van Caekenberge from Kluwer. Seeing me, Bob announced: “Ah, the rising star of Kluwer”. Again, I went home and told my wife. What a compliment!
Bob makes you raise your own standards. Or wear different shoes 🙂
As I already said, Bob De Groof was an excellent trainer. You follow his course, you improve. Simple. But it doesn’t stop there..
Last year, I was invited by Kluwer to speak at their evening Trainer’s Lounge on the usage of “Social Media for Training”. I saw Bob just before, dressed (as ever) in his suit and tie. Having myself had the day off, I was dressed in what I call my “Zuckerberg plus-1” conference look of jeans, trainers and a shirt (the shirt being the “plus-1”). Having always been troubled by how one should dress for a presentation, I shared my thoughts on the topic and asked Bob what he thought. His reply was simple: “Always dress a little bit better than the audience. And at least wear a nice pair of shoes.”
I can’t say do the first part, but I definitively swapped the trainers for a good pair of shoes the very next day.
So that’s “my” Bob: An inspiration, THE standard, a motivator and all round smart gentleman.
If you want to share your own ideas, please comment below.
Thanks for reading.
If you want to read more, here’s a selection of this week’s “in memoriams’:
- Lukas De Vos, DeWereldMorgen.be: “De gladde generatie: in memoriam Bob De Groof (1945-2013)”
- Wim Chielens, Brieven uit de Westhoek: “Bob De Groof, I.M”
- Kluwer’s IM
- DeRedactie.be and VRT.be
What follows is a short article Tim wrote to share with other members of my LinkedIn group “Leadership Foundation”, where previous participants and people interested in the topic can share references outside of training. I think some of what you can read here is a great example of getting and staying in Flow – a wonderful story of intrinsic motivation and awesome success, despite drawbacks and a very busy life. As a fellow marathon runner, I know what it takes and Tim has done a great job!
As a side-note, my insurance broker asked me to underline that I can take no responsibility for injuries sustained outside of training with me 🙂 Any further attempts to complete a marathon remain unsanctioned 🙂
In June 2011, I followed Dan’s “Leadership Foundation Course” at Ghent University. During one of his classes on prioritizing, Dan stressed out that if something is really important, you just do it. If you don’t do it, it means it isn’t important. This struck me, as I always said to myself “one day, I will run a marathon”. Up to that day, I didn’t run it, it was one of the things on my bucket list, something I wanted to prove to myself but I hadn’t done it yet… Was it really important to me? I didn’t want people to mock me as “the guy that runs a marathon with his mouth but not with his legs”… So, on that very day I made the decision that in 2012 I was going to run a marathon!
I had some running experience previously but I never ran further than 15km. In August 2011, I started training 3x a week to run a half marathon. I accomplished this goal in November 2011. It was hard, but I enjoyed the race and achieved my time goal as well. Ok, this was only half the distance I needed to run and winter was coming up which makes training harder… I decided to maintain my level of training throughout winter and spring and use summer to get in shape for the complete marathon.
In April 2012, I needed to pick the marathon I was going to run. I felt I needed something big, not a race where only 5 people and 6 horses are watching. So I enrolled for the New York City marathon. This was it, the registration was final, my flights were booked, I had some supporters to join me, now I really had to run the race, no way back… I had my physical condition tested in the University Hospital in Ghent and via a mutual connection, I got in touch with a multiple Belgian marathon champion. My new coach did a test run with me and gave me a schedule for 6 weeks after which I had to do a test over 5km to see how my progress was. We are now August 2012. The schedule consisted of 5 trainings a week: 2 interval training (very fast and exhausting), 1 very long and slow training and 2 recuperation trainings. As I still had my daytime job to do and I’m also involved in a contemporary dance group (for which I have to train 3 evenings a week), I knew I was going to be busy the next couple of months… Some days were quite hectic: getting up at 6h, starting work at 7h, finishing at 18h, going home and eat in a quicky off to dance class, returning home at 22h, suiting up for a run of 1 and ½ hour, taking a shower and going to bed at 1h. But I really wanted this, I wanted to run the marathon, I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, I wanted to be an athlete and I wanted to be able to say “one day, I ran a marathon” instead of “one day, I will run…”.
Six weeks later, my coach was happy with my progress and adjusted my training for the next six weeks. He really wanted me to perform at the best of my ability so the training volume increased. In November, I felt ready for it. My physical condition and confidence were peaking, I was going to conquer New York! Until hurricane Sandy arrived… The race was on Sunday 4th of November, we wanted to take a plane on Monday to adjust to the hour difference but Sandy made it impossible to leave… Our flight was rescheduled to Friday. Less recuperation time, but I still felt confident and motivated! We arrived in NY, retrieved my runner’s number… and found out just 15 minutes later that the marathon was cancelled… I have never felt so disappointed as I felt that moment. Three months of training, all for nothing…
The next morning I decided that this wasn’t going to stop me: I was going to run a marathon and I was going to run it as soon as possible! The same day, I signed in for the marathon of Valencia which was held 2 weeks later. I contacted my coach and he adjusted my training schedule. Back to the training ground…
Two weeks later, after all the training, the disappointment, the new trainings, I was more motivated than ever before. I was going to Valencia and I was going to give it all I’ve got! And so it happened that last Sunday November 18th, I finally did it. I ran the marathon of Valencia in 3h 23min 59sec. I was hoping for a time under 3h 30min and I achieved my goal. During the race, after 32km, I endured a pain I had never witnessed before but I kept going. Pain wasn’t going to stop me, everyone was suffering at that point, I had to succeed. Despite of the pain, I enjoyed the race. The atmosphere was great, especially during the last kilometer. When I entered the “stadium” were the finish line was and I heard the roaring sound of the crowd, my legs felt brand new and I sprinted like reborn to the finish line. I was an experience I will never forget, for that one moment I really felt like an athlete at the Olympics with thousands of people cheering for me. Once I crossed the finish, I was barely able to walk normal and I thought to myself “When did I ever had this stupid idea to run a marathon??!!”. But a couple of hours later, I was thinking “Actually, this was pretty cool, I might do it again one day…”.
To conclude, after a course of just one week, Dan Steer controlled my life for almost a year… Thanks Dan, for triggering me to really go for my dreams! I suffered I don’t know how many hours in rain, wind and cold on the road, but I enjoyed every minute of it! And perhaps even more important than finishing the marathon (of which I feel so proud), I now feel like I can accomplish everything I want! It really was an experience I will tell my grandchildren about and I all started one day in a class room at Ghent University with Dan Steer…
I just walked into a cloakroom at one of my clients and was struck by a smell of deodorant I have not smelt years. Immediately I was transported back in time to 13 years old, in front of my class at the beginning of a school day. I had just finished a sneaky cigarette before class (SO glad I don’t smoke anymore!). To avoid any trouble from the teacher, I had doused myself in Lynx spray-on deodorant (I think they call it “Axe” in Belgium). Even now, thinking about this moment, I can literally see the place of was standing in: Downstairs, just in the door, next to the office of the “head of lower school” surrounded by little uniformed people like myself. The same smell as today…
Proust would perhaps call this my “Madeleine” and the NLP folk would say I had “anchored” that moment in my memory via the smell. Whenever I smell that precise thing, I will remember that time, that place, those feelings. How powerful that sense of smell is!?!!
Can we use this for learning? Could we use anchoring to help people remember things they learnt?
In NLP, the idea of anchoring is well established and used in multiple applications. For example, if I were helping someone who gets stressed when presenting, I could use an anchoring technique to help them create a link between a calm successful good moment and a specific image (or holding two specific fingers together, or whatever….). Then, when they are preparing to present and getting stressed, they can just think of that image, or hold those two fingers together and they will get back that sense of calm and success.
How else can we apply this idea for learning?
Could we introduce specific images or key sounds (or smells?) or words during training, so that people can later remember what they learnt on cue? Or help reinforce all those good promises made at 4.30pm at the end of a training day? (Promises that are normally forgotten the minute they walk out of the door…). Would this work? How? Would it be ethical or would it be brainwashing?
For example, at 4.30pm on the last day of Presentation Skills training, I would ask participants to tel me what 1 key thing they will do differently next time they create or deliver a presentation. Perhaps someone answers: “I will be sure to repeat my money message at least 3 times during the next presentation” and another replies “I will use the diamond structure when I develop my presentation.” I might then ask them to spend a moment drawing a little image (whatever) which they might then even spray with a specific perfume. I ask them to spend time thinking about what they learnt and what they want to do next time, whilst smelling or looking at this image. The anchor is made.
Maybe the next day, they will go to the office and create a PowerPoint template with a first slide with their image on it. That way, the next time they open PowerPoint to make a presentation, they will see the Inge and remember all they promised themselves. In the other example (repeating message) just before they go to present, they might smell and look their image in order to remember to repeat at least 3 times the key message. Or maybe a colleague sits in the back of the room occasionally flashing a picture of the image to stimulate them.
As I’m sitting in the cafe having a quick lunch, I can’t take the time to think of other applications in, for example, communication training or leadership. I’ll let you do that…
What do you think? Worth pursuing?
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Watch this space!
Reading the Wired “World in 2013” magazine, the opening article by inventor and businessman James Dyson got me thinking. He explains that real improvement (in this case, regarding “green innovations”) doesn’t come from obliging people to scrape the bottom of the usual barrel to save a few pennies. Real improvement comes from entirely rethinking our methods and tools to do things in ways that have not so far been done.
How can we apply this to training?
We hear a lot about how learning does not imply training (and how training does not even imply learning). We also hear about how social and informal learning is on the rise. But reading Dyson (with the assumption that training for the right reasons is still good) I’m wondering:
- How do we currently deliver training?
- Where have we been scraping the bottom of the usual barrel in vain attempts to get some improvement?
- What are the main structural assumptions of how training is given and how can we re-engineer them?
My first thoughts…
- Some of my clients try to add more people to training all the time or reduce costs by driving prices down.. barrel-scraping or actually trying to improve training ROI?
- Most of the trainers I know pretty much do things in the same way, although some better than others and with varying degrees of interactivity, exercises, discussion etc…
- There are definitely some kind of “rules” about what “good training” looks like and I suppose this view is quite consistent around the profession
Dyson gives the example of how we try to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging people to just do less of the same things they always do. His example is of how we ask people to use less plastic shopping bags. With all the effort we put into doing less of the same thing, we can save a little bit of cost or increase a little bit of efficiency. In the plastic bag example, if everyone reuses his bags, we can save the “bad emissions equivalent” of 300 flights from London to New York.
BUT if we reengineer other more important things and radically change the way we do them, we can have much more impact. Dyson gives several examples, including one from the world of aviation… check it out!
How can we re-engineer training to provide innovative change and major impact?
I don’t have the answer yet, but I’m going to be working on it on 2013. The first thing I will do is list all my assumptions about training and make an intellectual attempt to kill my sacred cows.
What follows is the beginning of the list of fundamental elements of my training sessions that are in principle open to reengineering:
- The trainer is the one who comes with the majority of expertise (even if his style does not imply directly sharing this)
- The trainer architects the learning solution, often without the participants
- Training happens from 9 to 5 (more or less)
- Participants are provided with training materials by the trainer
- Group sizes are restricted based on some reasons
- Within one group, all participants follow the same basic training contents and agenda
- There tends to be 1 or 2 trainers for a “normal sized” group
- Typical day plans include 4 sessions of +/- 90 to 100 minutes
What other assumptions are in play? How do you give your trainings? What seems to have always been done in the same way? What fundamental truths are open to re-engineering?
Please leave a comment and share your ideas. Maybe you already re-engineered the basics and have good ideas to share…?
Thanks for reading.
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