eLearning Rockstars Stage – Using Games to Make Your Training More Effective

by Stephanie Ivec

Karl Kapp, Professor of Instructional Technology and Director of the Institute for Interactive Technologies at Bloomsburg University and Stephen Baer, Managing Partner of The Game Agency, joined forces to present an engaging, interactive session at this year’s DevLearn Expo.

Did you know that employee training expenses in North America exceed $70 billion each year? That’s crazy. What’s also crazy is how much of that learning is passive, dull, and uninteresting—in other words, not effective. Karl and Stephen, both experts in gamification and gamified learning, are passionate about presenting an alternative to this type of training. They believe in providing active, interesting, and engaging instruction—in other words, effective instruction. Their DevLearn learning stage session showcased how game-based training motivates learners, improves retention, and drives better business results.

During their presentation, this dynamic duo:

  • Discussed why training games are effective
  • Showed attendees how to map learning objectives to game mechanics
  • Explored game building and analytics tools
  • Had some fun and encouraged attendees to participate

Karl Kapp set the stage by talking about the difference between a game and play. The difference is the presence of a goal. Games have rules, strategy, and goals. Play is just for fun. Games are great for training because they offer a safe playground to experiment and fail. They provide active learning, resulting in higher knowledge gains and retention.

Next, he introduced some gamification recommendations based on a meta-analysis—a study of studies—covering studies from 2000-2015.

Research recommends:

  • Include some fun to stealthily engage the learner before focusing on the learning
  • Align gameplay experience with the performance objectives
  • The in-game experience must drive learning
  • A good game should gradually increase in difficulty
  • Providing in-game feedback is critical for knowledge growth
  • Create a connection with learners through progress & encourage replay

Stephen Baer shared the key questions they ask themselves at The Game Agency before creating a game.

  • What performance problem are you trying to solve?
  • What is the root of your performance problem?
  • What skills will solve that performance problem?
  • Can a game teach and reinforce those skills?

Asking yourself these questions can help you identify the right type of game for your situation—IF a game is indeed the solution.

The pair shared a Game Taxonomy chart that serves as a cheat sheet for determining the right type of game.

Watch the video below to hear Karl and Stephen go into all these points in greater detail. You’ll walk away feeling inspired and ready to create engaging AND effective training games!

Karl also shared a quick tip for how to think like a game designer—think action or activity first, not content first.

Next, the two game experts led the crowd through a rousing game of “Boom Shakalaka,” which you’ll just have to watch the video below to understand. The exercise was an example in utilizing listening skills, memorization, recall, and fun.

One last point that Karl and Stephen covered was data. Everyone’s favorite thing, right? Data is critical! By looking at how people are playing your training games, you can continuously make updates and changes to help them learn better.

Watch the video below to hear Karl and Stephen go into all these points in greater detail. You’ll walk away feeling inspired and ready to create engaging AND effective training games!


Check full presentation at > DevLearn Presentation (Stephen Baer & Karl Kapp)

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