Games are interesting and engaging because they require interactivity from the very beginning of the game playing experience. There is always some type of action to be undertaken or an adventure to be experienced.
When a player first enters a game, he or she takes action, moves in a certain direction or makes a choice. Some type of action is required from the beginning. The player is constantly thinking, they don’t know what is going to happen next, they are filled with both excitement and uncertainty. Can I accomplish the mission? Where do I need to go? How should I proceed? There is a challenge and an adventure. A player must do something, they must take action or fail immediately.
On the other hand, when a learner first enters an e-learning module they are confronted with a material to read, static images and a list of instructional objectives. Objectives that tell the learner what is going to happen, objectives that ruin any surprises and seem to avoid anything that sounds like an adventure. Next, the learner usually encounters some terminology and then a series of screens followed by multiple choice questions. Not really action oriented. Not an adventure. Boring stuff.
Typically in instruction, there is no action or engagement with the content until near the end of a module or after content has been introduced. And mostly it is a series of multiple choice questions which is not a real reflection of everyday activity. Rarely in my work life have I been confronted with a multiple choice question containing the right answer.
Position the instruction as an adventure for the learner and not merely “training.” Next time you create a learning event, have the learner do something—-force them to interact immediately when they enter into the module. For example, start the training with an action. Tell the learner that one of their co-workers has embezzled money and ask them what they should do first. Give them choices and let them make decisions early in the training.
Imagine if the first screen of an e-learning module confronted the learner with a question and required immediate action.
Quick, a fellow co-worker just got injured on the job because of a violation of OSHA, identify the area on the manufacturing floor that appeared to have the violation. You have 60 seconds, go.
All of the sudden, the typical, boring, compliance module just became a little more action and adventure focused. And you don’t need to stop at the beginning of the module, carry the adventure throughout.
There appears to be three other violations in this area as well, what are they? Can you identify them before someone else gets hurt. While you do so, match the infraction to the policy that is violated, this will help us prevent these incidences in the future. Remember, accuracy and timeliness are critical.
None of this requires fancy programming or state-of-the-art rapid prototyping processes, rather it requires thought, imagination and creativity. Something all of us have but few of us practice on a regular basis. Yes, yes, I know you must have “Objectives” it’s instructional design 101. Well we need objectives for designing instruction, we don’t need to spoon feed them to the learners and as Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
You mission, should you choose to accept it, is to add action and adventure into your learning design. Quick, do it before it’s too late…before you bore your learner’s to death.
To learn more about action, adventure and other game-elements to add to your learning events, check out these two resources: