Get Your Head in the Game

Posted by Katelind Hays on Sep 7, 2017 2:51:41 PM
Katelind Hays

72222791_s.jpgWe know that bells and whistles don’t always improve training experiences. Throwing more EdTech into our learning environments without consideration for its relevance or effectiveness often has a counter-productive effect – learners focus more on the technology than on the content.

The same holds true for leveraging trending instructional design models. If we jump on every “hot new trend” bandwagon, we can easily miss the mark of constructive modern blended learning. Each approach we choose to incorporate into our blends must have a purpose – authentically addressing an individual learning objective.

Gamification and game-based learning have gained momentum. As practitioners, we understand that not every successful learning moment has to be formal and serious. We can introduce gamified segments or activities that not only engage learners through fun or competition, but also provide targeted skill-building.

In honor of the Blended Learning Hub’s new Gamification and Game-Based Learning campaign, let’s review some of Dr. Stephen Slota’s sage advice for winning with this modern instructional design model.

Games and Goals: The Key Connection

Game design often includes players working towards a defined goal or objective. Why does this motivate us? Dr. Stephen Slota explains that it hinges on our ecopsychological world view:

“We are born with specific goals, biological goals that we need to meet. We have certain psychological activities or characteristics that enable us to fulfill those goals: getting things like food or shelter, reproduction, anything that is going to help us stay alive. Those are going to be the type of goals we are born with and every other goal we develop as a result of being alive fills back in the others. Whether we are trying to get goals met we want to do it the easiest, simplest most efficient way possible so we are going to look at our environment make decisions based on what is available to us and our intentionality will change based on the information we are acquiring and the context we are in.”

While it sounds complicated, fundamentally it boils down to the fact that our brains develop to look for the easiest way to achieve goals within our current environment.

This idea extends beyond basic survival. It extends into our approach to learning, too. Our learners will make decisions to achieve goals within their learning environments. If we can design our game-based or gamified exercises with that in mind, they’ll be more impactful.

Extending Games to Learning

Games aren’t new in learning. Game elements like points and scores and goals define our very earliest learning experiences. Dr. Slota explains,

“School is an internally designed game, there are points and scores, winners and losers and there are people who get how to play the game who can follow the rules and there are people who can’t and don’t succeed at that particular game. It’s arguably the most boring game that you could possibly play, maybe the least playful game you could possibly play, but the concepts are very much the same in terms of how it was designed.”

If we adapt that less-than-engaging model to our training, we can revamp an existing format for improved performance. Think of it this way: we have particular objectives we want to meet as an instructor. So if we create an environment that students and learners can interact with these materials, or even act upon them to meet those goals, we can create better training.

Looking for more? Join the Blended Learning Hub today to access exclusive gamification and game-based learning resources, tools, frameworks, and hands-on live events with the experts.


Topics: Gamification, Modern Blended Learning, Blended Learning Instructional Design, Game-Based Learning