Guest blog post by Liz Sheffield. Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business.
In the past, learning design followed the pattern of instruction, instruction, instruction with one final activity (if you were lucky!) to cement the learning. Games and activities were treated as a way to reward learners, rather than as a way to engage and involve them with interactive content.
Thankfully we’re no longer using that approach for training and development, and it’s no wonder why when you consider everything games can do for learners. Timely and frequent use of games provides learners with a sense of:
Optimism: I can do this! eLearning games reinforce key concepts in an interesting way that helps make the information less daunting for the learner. Games help learners see they have the capacity to learn a new skill.
Perseverance: I’m going to keep at it until I understand. Including frequent activities helps learners build on what they know. Having multiple opportunities to test their new skills with an activity or an eLearning game increases the likelihood that they will retain the information.
Mastery: I know how to perform this task. The more opportunities learners have to engage with the material, make connections, and apply what they’ve learned, the more likely it is they will comprehend, and ultimately master, the information.
Completion: I want to finish what I’ve started. If learners have to wait until the end of an eLearning module for some fun, they’ll opt out long before they get to the end of the course. Including games throughout a learning experience allows you to “reward” learners more frequently. Those frequent rewards increase the odds for course completion.
Belonging: I successfully completed this challenge! Saving all the opportunities to practice until the end of the course reduces the number of chances a learner has to get it right. Intersperse games and activities throughout the eLearning module and the opportunities for a learner to feel successful increase.
As designers who create training for adult learners, we have a responsibility to spark curiosity, encourage thought and inspire learning. In the past doing this by including “play” in a lesson might have been seen as frivolous.
Now we know games and play are an important element of successful training design. In fact, it’s our professional obligation to follow a new pattern for learning design: instruction, game, instruction, game, instruction, game, and some final fun to celebrate the learning.