Gaming the System: Harness the power of games to drive learning
As e-learning providers struggle to motivate learners to complete web-based courseware, gamers are glued to their screens for dozens of hours each week. What if we could harness the power of gaming and instead of wasting hours of time playing digital games, we could help individuals and organizations meet their learning goals?
Not every game is created equal, and many so-called educational games are time fillers and wasters. How can you ensure that learning games will create value? Here are five characteristics that learning games must meet:
- Based on sound learning theory. Games readily lend themselves to experiential, social, cognitive and behavioral theory. The key is to make sure the games are designed around theory.
- Linked to organizational or academic goals. Playing educational in corporate training or academic settings isn’t enough. The games must be linked to learning goals and outcomes or they will simply be time fillers.
- Results oriented. Games must have outcomes that provide rich data (not just a score) for assessing and evaluating learning outcomes.
- Engaging. Games must be engaging, exciting, and downright addictive (think Farmville) if they are creating the kind of immersive learning experiences that we need. Interactive learning components like quizzes, surveys, videos, podcasts, and even blogs can’t touch the all-consuming motivation of a great game.
- Cost effective. If you have ten million dollars laying around, you can hire a top game designer to create something pretty amazing, but most organizations and certainly education environments don’t have that kind of funding. We need to develop strategies to create games that meet the first four criteria without breaking the bank.
How can organizations use games to reach their learning goals while meeting the five criteria above? Tell us about a great example of a learning game and provide a link if available to an interesting site.