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.
I was recently in my younger son’s First Grade classroom. One student was making a choice about her in-class birthday celebration that afternoon. The teacher offered three options: a read aloud story, a dance video, or a game of Heads-Up, 7-Up.
It was a no-brainer for the birthday girl: Heads-Up, 7-Up. Her peers cheered. The excitement in the classroom was palpable.
I may be decades older than my son and his First Grade classmates, but I still remember the thrill of playing Heads-Up, 7-Up when I was in elementary school. (For the record, if it had been my 7th birthday – or maybe even my 40th – I would have made the same choice.)
As training and development professionals, what can we learn about an adult learning environment from this First Grade classroom?
Using games is a no-brainer
If you’re responsible for providing training experiences for today’s corporate learners, you must include games as part of your learning content. No, Heads-Up, 7-Up is probably not the best choice for adult participants. But if you ask your adult learners whether they want to read a manual, sit through a 3-hour PowerPoint presentation or play a game, their response (games!) is a no-brainer.
Games don’t have to be complex to be engaging
If you’ve played Heads-Up, 7-Up, you know it’s not a complex game. It involves students putting heads down on their desks, holding their thumbs in the air and then trying to guess who, from a select group of seven, tapped their thumb. The engagement in this game comes from the competition, the strategy and the opportunity to have some fun. Use simple, yet effective, games and your adult learners will respond in a similar way.
Games don’t have to take a lot of time
The game of Heads-Up, 7-Up I observed took all of 10 minutes. In that short amount of time, the classroom activity served many purposes. It was a reward. It was kinesthetic. It was a change of pace. When it was time for the next learning activity, the students were ready. The same goes for the corporate learning environment. Offer adult learners “a break” in the form of a game and they will be better prepared to receive the information you’re sharing. (Need help developing elearning games quickly? Check out our free game templates!)
The carefree days of playing Heads-Up, 7-Up may be long gone for your corporate learners, but when you’re designing training you can bring back a little of that magic by incorporating games as part of the learning experience.