#DevLearn 2013 Resources: Thinking Like a Game Designer

Had a great time at DevLearn, first doing a workshop with Sharon Boller and her crew from BLP. And then presenting on Five Things that Instructional Designers can Learn from Game Designers. Here are the slides and some resources from my presentation.

Here are the five elements of thinking like a game designer.

Begin with Activity:Add Action and Adventure

Put Your Learner at “Mock” Risk

Create Curiosity, Mystery, Intrigue

Give Learners Choices Also related is to Create Multiple Levels of Entry into Your Instruction.

Create a Challenge for the Learner

Here is some information on Distributed Practice and Retrieval Practice

Employing the approach of providing spaced quizzes for learners over time taps into two powerful and empirically supported instructional strategies—Retrieval Practice and Spaced Retrieval.

Retrieval Practice requires learners to recall information rather than simply re-read or re-listen to it. A review of the pertinent scientific literature reveals that the benefits of retrieval practice have been known for at least 100 years and they have been demonstrated with many diverse groups [1]. Retrieval Practice alone can provide improved recall performance by as much as 10-20%.[2] When combined with Spaced Retrieval the effect is multiplied. In fact, “the act of retrieving information from memory actually alters the retrieved memory by elaborating on the existing memory trace and/or creating additional retrieval routes. One consequence of these changes is that the probability of successful retrieval in the future is increased, making testing a potent mechanism for enhancing long term retention.”[3]

Spaced Retrieval involves providing students with quiz or course content spaced over time and it too is among the most robust findings in educational psychology research.[4] It turns out that the greater the amount of spacing between retrieval events, the greater the potential benefit to retention. Spaced Retrieval helps learners retain access to memorized information over long periods of time because the spacing promotes deeper processing of the learned material. Ideally, the time between the learning events is greater than 24 hours, but shorter times have also been found to be effective. As long as 8 years after an original training, learners whose practices were spaced showed better retention than those who practiced in a more concentrated time period. [5]

Spaced Retrieval avoids two inherent problems with mass practice (learning all the information at once); the problems of learner fatigue and the likelihood of interference with preceding and succeeding learning.

One study combining Spaced Retrieval and Retrieval Practice indicated retention benefits of between 35-60% for students in the subject matter of Anatomy and Physiology over the control group.[6]

[1] Larsen DP, Butler AC, Roediger HL 3rd. Repeated testing improves long-term retention relative to repeated study: a randomized ontrolled trial. Med Educ 43: 1174–1181, 2009.

[2] Dobson, J. L. (2013) Retrieval practice is an efficient method of enhancing the retention of anatomy and physiology information Advances in Physiology Education 37: 184–191, 2013; Doi:10.1152/advan.00174.2012.

[3] Roediger, H. L., & Butler, A.C . (2013). Retrieval practice (testing) effect. In H. L. Pashler (Ed.),Encyclopedia of the mind. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publishing Co.

Here is link to story of research in India.

The Gamification of Healthcare


Here is some information on thinking like a game designer. Improve Training: Thinking Like a Game Designer

Here are some elements you can add to your training to elevate the level of engagement. Five Gaming Elements for Effective eLearning

Here is the article about how only 6% of organizations are successful in influencing employee behavior. 4 Key Strategies for Increasing Transference

Here is an example of gamification in action. The Gamification of Retail Safety and Loss Prevention Training

July 2012 T&D Article: Games, Gamification and the Quest for Interactive Learning

Here is Chapter One of “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction.”Chapter One of the Gamification of Learning and Instruction


To learn more about gamification and games for learning:

Here is the book referenced Influencers

Click here to visit a catalog of Resources on this subject.

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  1. Kurt Melander October 25, 2013

    Awesome resources Karl,

    How many IDs fell prey to the first question in the scenario wanting to provide key points on what affects Dragons? I would imagine it to be significantly high, but the great thing about the presentation was how immediate the proverbial “light bulb” comes on when you make that mental paradigm shift, many IDs surely immediately going against their learned behaviors knowing their “traditional” way of approaching this new mental model was completely askew. Outstanding, I wish I could have participated, but being a DoD Contractor, funds for conferences are non-existent, regardless of how beneficial the venue might be. I laughed out load reading your article about the “Clever” designer forcing students to view/hear every item or morsel/tidbit of content before being allowed to move ahead. My problem is not the designer, it’s the SME or Program Manager that feels their content is just SOOO important they must ensure learning, AKA forced lockstep instruction, and we collectively just can’t relieve them of this ridiculous notion; being a Military career field, they feel justified in torturing and tormenting their students into submission because of their military mission. If I had any reasonable amount of hair left, I’d be pulling it out, but all my arguments have so far fallen of relatively deaf ears. I’m going to send them your article and see whether they get the hint and we can establish a dialog about how to “re-approach” the training of our younger troops in their career field. Cross your fingers with me…LOL, but great resources again, and thanks for all you do to enlighten the masses and help IDs shed their outmoded approaches to training development.

Karl Kapp
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