Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Using Game Elements in eLearning

The typical mindset regarding use of game elements in elearning is "We don't have that kind of budget!" But, are we trying to design a high end graphic game? You can use game elements in a modest budget. How you ask? Let us think about the elements that make a game and which of these can be used for an elearning application.
  • Rewards and punishments
  • Goals and sub goals
  • Learner control
  • Decision making
  • Experiential learning
  • feel good factors (encouragement, sense of achievement/victory)
  • Challenges
  • Storyline/theme/drama
  • Environment/context
  • Characters and their personalities
  • Highly visual depiction of events
We had designed an elearning application for counselors in an English training institute. We designed a decision tree with branching stories. Given below is the description of how we included game elements in elearning.
  • Rewards and punishments were displayed in terms of the reaction of the customer to a particular action taken by the learner and points gained. The reaction of customer is unpleasant for the least appropriate answer and the points gained is zero. The reaction of the customer is positive for the most appropriate answer and the points gained is maximum. The learner is given the opportunity to recover from unpleasant situation.
  • The main goal of the course was to make a successful sale. The sub goals were successful application of the steps of the counseling process.
  • The learner makes decisions and experiences the consequences of his/her own actions. They get an opportunity to reflect on the events.
  • Each customer was given a distinct personality. The learner had to understand the customers' personalities and respond accordingly.
  • Customers' personalities helped decide what their typical response to a situation would be. Therefore, the situations were also clearly defined.
While using game elements in an elearning process, there are certain points that you must remember:
  1. Avoid time-based tasks unless the skill to be mastered requires the learner to complete a particular taks within a specified time. For example: A call center executive has put the customer on hold to retreive some information the syste, The executive has to ensure that he/she informs the customer about how much time it might take and retreive the relevant information within this time.
  2. Ensure that you do not have a parallel story. Invariably, the game/story aspect takes precedence over the learning. For example: Have you seen the demo on Peter Packet? This is a perfect example of this. The main aim of the game is to teach the learner about how the Internet functions. This demo begins with a story about how an Indian girl is unable to go to school. Peter has carry a packet to help the mail reach this girl in time. Peter then has to make his way through by jumping over other packets, avoiding viruses, going through a router, acquiring a key and finally completing the message. When I first played the game, I thought the main intention of the demo was to convey a social message. The information about Internet is displayed in pop up boxes that I can close if I am more involved in the game.
  3. Ensure that you tie the loose ends, especially for branching stories. You do not want your learner to get stuck during the learning program.
  4. The storyline should have sufficient information so that the learner can make an informed decision.
  5. Feedback should be designed very carefully. It must have the desired impact. If you are not displaying a 'that's correct or incorrect' message, ensure that the learner understands clearly when he/she got it right and vice versa.


Rupa Rajagopalan said...

Thanks for this useful post :)


Geeta Bose said...

Good post Archie! I came across this url yesterday on one of the tweets. A good paper placing games in social context:

hemcoined said...

The reaction of the customer is positive for the most appropriate answer and the points gained is maximum. Access Platform