Serious Gaming Takes Flight

Dennis Glenn at “Chief Learning Officer” Media: “Gamification is one of the hottest topics in corporate learning today, yet we don’t entirely trust it. So before delving into how leaders can take a reasoned, serious approach to use games in learning environments, let’s get one thing straight: Gamification is different from serious gaming.

Gamification places nongame experiences into a gamelike environment. Serious games are educational experiences specifically designed to deliver formative or summative assessments based on predetermined learning objectives. Gamification creates an experience; serious games promote task or concept mastery. The underlying aim of serious games concentrates the user’s effort on mastery of a specific task, with a feedback loop to inform users of their progress toward that goal….

In addition to simulations and gamification, many corporate learning leaders are turning to serious games, which demand social engagement. For instance, consider the World of Warcraft wiki, which has more than 101,000 players and contributors helping others master the online game.

Some of the most important benefits to gaming:

  • Accepting failure, which is seen as a benefit to mastery.
  • Rewarding players with appropriate and timely feedback.
  • Making social connections and feeling part of something bigger.

In serious games, frequent feedback — when accompanied by specific instruction — can dramatically reduce the time to mastery. Because the computer will record all data during the assessment, learning leaders can identify specific pathways to mastery and offer them to learners.

This feedback loop leads to self-reflection and that can be translated into learning, according the 2014 paper titled “Working Paper: Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance.” Authors Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano and Bradley Staats found that individuals performed significantly better on subsequent tasks when thinking about what they learned from the previously completed task.

Social learning is the final link to understanding mastery learning. In a recent massive open online course, titled “Design and Development of Educational Technology MITx: 11.132x,” instructor Scot Osterweil said our understanding of literacy is rooted in a social environment and in interactions with other people and the world. But again, engagement is key. Gaming provides the structure needed to engage with peers, often irrespective of cultural and language differences….(More)”.