Becoming A Training Games Hero: How To Enhance Your Curriculum With Interactive Games
Most people are champions of curiosity and thrive on imagination, exploration, competition, and rewards. It just so happens that each of these adjectives align well with the fundamentals of training games.
Games have been around for thousands of years and have consistently engaged learners with content on a much deeper level than passive instruction (lectures, videos, reading, etc.). Over the past decade, studies conducted by Harvard, MIT, and The Federation of American Scientists have linked educational games to significantly enhanced learning. In a study conducted by The Federation of American Scientists, they stated that people remember only 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 50% of what we hear if we watch someone demonstrate it, and 90% if we do it ourselves. Games forces us to try things out ourselves and as a result drive learning material into a player’s (or in the case of education, learner’s) long-term memory, ensuring that content is successfully retained and accessible in the future.
Despite the benefits of education games, some educators appear like a deer in headlights when given the opportunity to create a game. Below are 5 tips for every educator to consider when implementing games in their classroom.
1. Identify Why You Want To Use A Game
The why and the how should always precede the what. Begin by asking yourself why you plan to use a game. By identifying the purpose of a game, you’ll quickly narrow your search for the right one. Do you want to teach learners about a new topic, support learners who are struggling with core concepts, observe how learners approach different challenges, make your content more interesting, test basic comprehension, etc?
2. Establish Who Your Target Audience Is
When building a game, keep in mind three types of gamers (Achievers, Explorers, and Socializers). Each gamer type engages with games in a unique way. Consider your audience when choosing a game and to make some assumptions about how they will engage with your game.
- Achievers play games for enjoyment, but in their heart of hearts, they want to beat the game, those around them, and share their success with everyone. Achievers need a consistent challenge (new characters, activities, levels) and progression (points, badges, leaderboards) to remain engaged.
- Explorers are curious people, and approach most games with a desire to turn over every stone and discover every secret. They thrive on deep plots with overarching narratives full of twists and turns and are more focused on the journey than success or failure.
- Socializers are drawn to games to collaborate, share their point of view, and encourage others along the way. Social features increase the benefits of the educational games, helping players learn from one another.
3. Choose A Game That Aligns With Your Objectives And Appeals To Your Audience
Consider making or choosing a game that is immersive, multi-level, and challenging without being too complicated. You can further explore the topic by reading my article about six game types and how each aligns with a set of training objectives. Alternatively, take a look at the games we offer to see if you can find one that’s right for you. After landing on a game that you think is appropriate, play the game yourself or better yet with colleagues, friends, or family before introducing it to the class. During these practice sessions, keep asking yourself the following questions:
Does this game align with your educational objectives?
- Is the game intuitive?
- Will this game appeal to all gamer types and will it keep all of them engaged?
- Can the game adapt, based on each players performance/decisions?
- Can this game sufficiently test your audience’s knowledge/ability?
4. Dedicate Enough Class Time To Ensure Your Game Is Effective
Consider allocating a consistent slot in your weekly, monthly, or quarterly classroom calendar to game play. Offering a practice playground will only enhance what you’re teaching and will give learners an opportunity to take your lesson for a spin, in a collaborative and competitive way.
5. Collect As Much Data As You Can
By collecting individual and group player data from each game you will quickly identify knowledge gaps and will be empowered to rework your training content to be more effective. Start with topline data such as the number of users, scores, rank, sessions, session duration, % of questions correct/incorrect, and total questions answered. Dig in a bit deeper by analyzing individual outcomes, looking at all sessions played, how each player answered each question by session, how many attempts it took them before answering a question correctly, and identify insights into knowledge acquisition and retention. Finally, consider macro trends for each question including time required to answer, number of times players have attempted to answer, and % of time players have answered correctly/incorrectly. The more you analyze the more impactful your next lesson plan will be.
In the world of gaming, there’s no such thing as perfect. Focus on fun first, keep your game fluid and be open to making changes over time. Try not to overthink it. As the Roman emperors used to say “let the games begin”.
Find the full article at eLearningIndustry.com