The Learning is in the Process Not Outcome

Stories are an important element in instructional games and are critical for fostering higher order thinking skills. But it is not the outcome of the story where the learning occurs, it is through the process of the story unfolding.

As the leaner journeys through the story, the decisions that are made, the objects chosen the questions asked or unasked are moments of opportunity for learning. A well designed story places the learner into a case study which they are not passively reading, they are an integral part.

The inclusion of the learner as a member of the story allows them to examine, first hand, the variables involved in the situation. They don’t have to wonder what they would do in a certain situation, they are now forced into the situation and they need to make a choice.

The story must be complex enough to address the instructional objectives and rich enough to engage the learner in the process. If the story is interesting enough and the design appropriately interactive, the learner almost forgets that he or she is external to the story and becomes part of the story which internalized the learning at a much deeper level than watching.

Game playing is a rich experience that ties to emotions and interactivity and the more complex the story, the more learner will get involved.

Of course the complexity needs to be purposeful and related to what the learner will need to do in the real life situation. Complexity without purpose will not be effective. But if done well, the complexity of the story will foster increased thinking and cognition. A purposeful story embedded in reality helps learners with their understanding of the underlying factors influencing the outcome of a situation and in developing alternative solutions. Immersing the learner in a well designed story and having them live the events and actions leads to the learning of higher level skills.


Posted in: Design, Games, simulations

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Karl Kapp
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