Gaming Time Management: How to boost your productivity with game-based apps

It’s no surprise that Americans are obsessed with video games.  In just one year, (2013-2014) the time spent gaming has increased by 13%, with the average American over the age of 13 spending over 6 hours per week paying games on all platforms.  Candy Crush Saga is the king of the App Store, ranking as the most downloaded game to date. Fruit Ninja came in second followed by the original Angry Birds, Subway Surfers, Despicable
Candy CrushMe, Clash of Clans, Temple Run, Angry Birds Rio, and Temple Run 2. In the category of top ten app based games, only Words with Friends has educational value. Although books have been written about the benefits of video games (Everything Bad is Good for You and Why Video Games are Good for your Soul) it is difficult to argue that we reap desirable outcomes from playing Candy Crush for hours each day.

In recent years there has been a trend to put our fascination with games to good use. A number of apps and tools that gamify time management and productivity help users get things done while having fun. Here are three notable apps and tools that add a gaming component to everything from life planning to health.

  1. Habitica turns your to do list into a role-playing game where you earn experience points, gain levels, and stay alive by getting things done. You can also list habits you’d like to break or adopt and you’ll receive experience points for completing them. Rewards are built into the system in the form of leveling up, or you can set your own rewards. HabitRPG is free to use/play and available on all platforms.
  2. SuperBetter was designed by author and game developer Jane McGonigal, PhD to help its users achieve big goals like quitting smoking or getting in shape by breaking down goals into a journey with trials, quests, and rewards to drive motivation.
  3. If you want to win at the game of life, check out MindBloom. To play the game, you plant a tree that represents your life, with leaves that represent the different aspects that are important to you like health, career, relationships, finances, spirituality, etc. As you perform real-world actions, you get points, achievements, badges, and other in-game rewards for doing the things you’ve always wanted to do.


  1. Which, if any, apps do you use to support your productivity?
  2. How can we harness the power of gaming to boost productivity?
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Put Your Best Self Forward: The reflected best-self exercise

RBSDo you remember the last time you were extraordinary at work? I’m sure you can recall several moments when your best efforts were recognized and affirmed by others. Memories like these create a portrait of our “best selves” and can help us create a personal vision of who we can become. This portrait or vision is called the reflected best self (RBS).

Let’s break the term down to better understand its purpose. “Reflected” refers the idea that our self-concept is based on our perception of how others view us. The word “Best” emphasizes that the focus is on our strengths, contributions, and enduring talents. In their article, “Composing the Reflected Best-Self Portrait,” Quinn et al. (2003) propose that we become even more extraordinary when we seek out feedback from others about our strengths and use this information to create a Reflected Best-Self Portrait. By envisioning ourselves at our best, we can then act on this vision to translate possibilities into realities.

The RBS is an exercise that you might use in coaching or OD practice to help individuals and organizations increase their success. It’s also an excellent strategy to boost the morale and confidence of workers so they can do great work. When we are in touch with the qualities and characteristics we display when we are at our best, we can then more readily duplicate that performance in new settings to become even more extraordinary. In essence, we can increase our human capital and evolve in the direction of our capability and potential (Coleman, 1988). What’s unique about RBS is that all feedback solicited is positive in nature. Rather than asking others to tell us what we are doing wrong, we ask them to tell us what we are doing right.

If this sounds like something you’d like to try yourself or use as a tool with others, you can learn more about the RBS process which involves soliciting positive feedback from others (who doesn’t like compliments?) and using the feedback to construct a self-portrait of abilities.

What are your thoughts about RBS? Do you see yourself applying the process to yourself? Why or why not?


Coleman, James S. “Social capital in the creation of human capital.” American journal of sociology (1988): S95-S120.

Quinn, Robert E., et al. “Reflected Best Self Exercise.” Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, University of Michigan (2003).

Learn more at:

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Virtual Training and the ARCS Model of Motivation

Guest Author: Kimberly Isley-Pesto

Kimberly Isley-Pesto 2015 Graduate, MATD

Kimberly Isley-Pesto
2015 Graduate, MATD

Picture this: It’s 9:00 am and you are preparing to deliver training via WebEx. The session is scheduled to last one hour and you’re expecting 70+ participants. You begin having nagging thoughts about the challenges you might face in facilitating a synchronous session, and panic sets in. You won’t be able to read body language as you would in a classroom, so you worry this will impair your ability to adjust your facilitation style to engage distracted learners. You’ll have to vie for your participants’ full attention given a plethora of distractions— phone calls, emails, work tasks, social media alerts and co-workers etc., and you won’t know if they are motivated and engaged.

As a frequent facilitator of online training, I know far too well the obstacles faced when trying to connect with learners you can’t see. When it comes to motivating online learners, the struggle is real. So, how do you motivate your learners to stay fully engaged when using web conferencing tools like WebEx or AT&T Connect to deliver learning?

John Keller’s ARCS Model can go a long way in creating training experiences aimed at motivating and engaging learners. In this blog post, I’ll share how to apply the four steps in the ARCS Model to encourage and sustain learner motivation when delivering training using synchronous learning tools:

Attention – Techniques for commanding participant attention include the use of:

  1. Active participation –Use the web conferencing tool’s interactive features such as raise hand, polling questions, chat functions and the whiteboard to get the learners involved.
  2. Mix it up – To reinforce a topic’s relevance and account for the variety of individual learning styles, vary methods when presenting material. For example, you might have guest speakers join in for part of the presentations, include stories or case studies,  and ask open-ended questions.
  3. Humor – A humorous anecdote can generate positive energy and create immediate motivation. Just be sure to use stories that will not offend your participants and don’t overdo it. A little humor goes a long way in virtual training.
  4. Conflict – Presenting information contrary to what the learner already knows can spark their attention and bait their interest, making them want to know more.
  5. Keep it real – Use visual examples, videos, and images.

 Relevance – Techniques to make the training content meaningful include:

  1. Connect to previous experience – Guide your learners to build upon their current knowledge so that they’ll understand how the training is expanding upon what they already know and how this new information will improve or enhance their current knowledge or skills.
  2. Present value – Give the learners WIFM, or “What’s in it for me.” They’ll be motivated to pay attention if they perceive the training will help them immediately deal with a real-life problem or specific situation.
  3. Future value – Communicate from the beginning how the training content will assist your participants with future challenges.
  4. Modeling – Give your participants examples of others who have successfully applied the knowledge or skills presented. This could be in the form of guest speakers, stories and/ or case studies.
  5. Choice – This can be accomplished by asking your learners to share ideas during the session on how they plan to apply what they have learned. (i.e. via web conference features such as raise hand, chat or soliciting open-ended questions for virtual large group discussion).

Confidence – Include activities that will increase confidence in applying new knowledge and skills. If participants feel they can accomplish the learning goals, their motivation will increase.

  1. Facilitate learner growth – Allow for incremental steps of growth during the learning by allowing participants to contribute in ways that demonstrate their progress. Use the breakout session functionality to set up small private groups away from the main training session. Assign small-groups discussions, case study review, and other collaborative activities to allow your participants to apply what they have learned in the session.
  2. Provide the learning objectives – Let your participants know in advance what they are expected to achieve as a result of attending the online training session. Knowing what is expected and how they’ll be evaluated can motivate them to stay engaged throughout the entire session.
  3. Give feedback – Even with large groups of participants, it is possible to give feedback. In past sessions, I have made it a point to comment positively when learners participate. This encourages others to chime in during large group discussion and drives greater engagement with all learners during the session.
  4. Give learners control – Provide your participants with some control over the learning experience to give them a sense of ownership. Give them choices about learning methods that they’ll find useful. Recently, I used polling to solicit real-time feedback on how the participants wanted the training content to be covered during the Web ex session.

Satisfaction – Following are strategies on how to connect participant satisfaction to learning motivation:

  1. Rewards – Present rewards in the form of a sense of accomplishment or words of praise to increase learner satisfaction and sense of achievement with recognition of participation during the session. You might also give out prizes. In a recent session, I advised the participants that I had five Starbucks gift cards to give away during the training. All they had to do to win was be the first to answer a question correctly via chat.
  2. Quick application back on the job – Encourage participants to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills immediately when they return back to the workplace. Again, breakout sessions are a great way to engage learners by allowing them to collaborate through problem solving activities.

I’ve given you much to consider for the next time you design and virtual training by using the ARCS Model of Motivation. Can we keep all participants engaged during synchronous session? Perhaps not, but I do believe using ARCS can increase your odds.

Having read through the strategies and techniques shared here, what would you do—or have you done to motivate and engage your learners in virtual session? Which ARCS techniques would you use of in your next facilitation of synchronous learning?  Leave your comments or questions below to continue the discussion.

For more information about John Keller’s ARCS Model of Motivation check out his book “Motivational Design for Learning and Performance: The ARCS Model Approach.”


  1. Motivational design for learning and performance. The ARCS model approach. By John M. Keller. New York; Springer 2010
Posted in E-Learning, Guest Student Post, Instructional Design, online learning, Technology, Training, Uncategorized, virtual classroom | 1 Comment

Content Curation: A mostly curated blog post



Back in the day—and by that, I mean 2012—there were rumblings about “curation” or “content curation” within the T&D world. For example, David Kelly wrote a brilliant blog post about it for ATD (then, ASTD).

Some T&D practitioners may have dismissed this topic as simply e-Knowledge Management (KM); that is, more stuff with better tools. After all, even backer in the day, KM itself was hijacked by computer scientists, changing the focus from knowledge and knowledge-sharing to the tools and underlying search algorithms. Boring! But we in T&D kept working, and KM has remained an Area of Expertise (AOE) in the ATD Competency Model. The ability to collect and share knowledge and to share best and standard practices is a necessity for successful organizations.


Suffice it to say, curation IS here to stay. We know this because of the plethora of headlines and also because of the number of hits we get when doing a Google search.


What exactly is content curation?

Here’s a simple definition from Wikipedia (yes, Wikipedia; Wikipedia is part of content curation): “Content curation is the process of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. Services or people that implement content curation are called curators. Curation services can be used by businesses as well as end users.”

Educational offerings?

Formal offerings—mostly graduate and post-graduate certificates—are offered by a small number of traditional colleges and universities, such as Johns Hopkins. Currently, the departments offering these certificates vary from Library Sciences to Museum Studies.

Coming up to speed

Please access the articles listed in the References at the end of this post for a quick dive into content curation.

What say YOU?

  • How do you see content curation impacting your job?
  • How do you see content curation impacting your organization?
  • What experiences have you had with CC?
  • Has it been mentioned or do you include it at job interviews?

Mildly Curated References

David Kelly He sounded the warning. Early, enlightening post from 2012.
Training Magazine  

Current perspectives.
Training Industry
Jay Cross Perspective from an ultra-practical practitioner


Allison Anderson and Ben Betts They wrote the book!






Posted in Knowledge Management, Organizational Development, Technology, Training, Web 2.0 | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Holidays!


RU Training will be on break beginning December 23rd until classes resume on January 19th. Please also note that the Roosevelt University campuses will be closed from December 23rd until January 4th.

We hope you have an enjoyable holiday season and we’ll be in touch in 2016.

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TRDV Student Wins ATDChi Dr. Deborah Colky Scholarship Award

Kimberly Isley-Pesto

Kimberly Isley-Pesto

Kimberly Isley-Pesto was recently presented with ATDChi’s Dr. Deborah Colky Workplace Learning & Performance Student Award. Kimberly is a student in the Graduate Program in Training and Development preparing to graduate in fall 2015.

ATDChi’s Dr. Deborah Colky Workplace Learning & Performance Student Award recognizes an exceptional student in the workplace learning & performance profession. The award is in honor of Dr. Colky, who was Chair of the Graduate Program in Training and Development until her untimely passing in 2007. It has been created in her memory to go to a promising student who shares the same enthusiasm and knowledge of the profession that Deb possessed. The committee looks for individuals who exhibit many of Deb’s qualities, including enthusiasm and patience that encourages personal growth and skill development of those around them. According to the award committee, “Kimberly well deserved the honor of receiving the award.”

“I am greatly honored and humbled to receive the award. I look forward to partnering with ATDChi and previous award winners in continuing to build upon the legacy that Dr. Colky has firmly established at Roosevelt University and within ATDChi community,” Kimberly commented. She goes on further to recognize Dr. Michael Colky, Deborah’s husband, who founded the award in 2008. She says, “I am thankful to ATDchi and Mike Colky in creating this opportunity as it serves as affirmation and encouragement for students in continuing to learn, grow and develop one’s competencies in the art and science of adult learning.

Mrs. Isley- Pesto wins a scholarship, professional membership to the Association for Talent Development Chicago (ATDChi), and the opportunity to publish an article in Training Today.

Posted in Learning at Roosevelt | 6 Comments

Blogging 101: How to write engaging and informative content

If you’ve never written a blog post before, where do you begin? I will offer you three strategies to quickly get up to speed:

Know your Blog: If you are a guest blogger, start by familiarizing yourself with the blog purpose, readers, style, and message. I will direct you to two popular guest posts that serve as an excellent example of how to write for our blog:

Gather Expert Advice: Below are recommendations for newbies from three highly skilled and successful bloggers:

  • Leo Babuta Zen Habits: Create amazing content that helps people with their problems. Show them how to do things they want to do. You have to write posts that are relevant to your potential readers – teach her to do things she’s always wanted to do. You have to write posts that are extremely useful and packed with info they need – but at the same time, concise and not too wordy. You need to write posts that are accessible, scannable, and have great headlines. Everything you do should be for the reader. That’s all.
  • Seth Godin: An appropriate image, a topic easily broadened to be useful to a large number of readers, not too long, focusing on something that people have previously taken for granted that initially creates emotional resistance and then causes a light bulb go off, and finally, causes the reader to look at the world differently all day long.
  • Brian Clark Copyblogger: Describe a problem your reader might experience in your opening paragraph and promise to solve it in the remainder of your blog post, explain with specific detail how your reader can solve her problem, If you are a newbie, insert some authority enhancers into your blog post to strengthen your credibility by quoting and including research, including case studies or examples. Writing an authority-boosting article requires you to sweat the details. Avoid generic statements. Dig deep to find the best quotes and the most useful examples.

As you read this advice you’ll notice common themes: 

Begin with a problem that is important to your readers, show them how to solve the problem,  and include references and sources from books, articles, and other blogs. Your writing should be engaging, detailed, and most important, relevant!

Use a Job Aid: Since we are in the business of workplace learning, I’d like to also offer a job aid or checklist that we encourage our writers to use:

Questions for discussion. . .

  1. Can you share additional “expert” advice from experienced bloggers?
  2. What are some topics, problems, questions, or themes that we might explore in our blog that would be of interest to you?
Posted in Learning at Roosevelt, Technology, Web 2.0 | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments