Welcome to stop #3 of The Karl Kapp Games, Gadgets, and Gizmos Virtual World Book Tour.
I've grown up with the mentality that it's cheating if I don't read a book from cover to cover. But I have to admit that I used a few cheat codes to read this book. (I just didn't have a lot of time given that I was stop #3 on the tour!)
I suspect the concept of cheats is going to resonate a lot with Boomers and Gen-Xers as a foreign, but thrilling concept. (See Chapter 5: Cheaters Never Win...Or Do They?) It sure did with Tom King over at stop #2 of the book tour....his was just the clever approach I was going to take in beginning this book review. Tom beat me to the punch.
I'm a linear reader in recovery and have been actively learning how to skim books and not feel guilty about it. For this exercise, I was a good doobie, and I read all of Chapter 1, which gives a great background on Boomers, Gamers and the differences between the two.
Then I read the descriptions of each chapter and decided on which ones I would focus. I circled Chapter 6 (moving from creating rigid course structures to small, easily searched nuggets) and Chapter 8 (gamers' expectations of bosses/teachers).
My plan failed me and I just started reading Chapter 2: It's in the Game. (Hey, I can only stray so far from my linear, conforming roots!)
Be sure to read Chapter 2 if you're about to start a new project and need some juice before you start brainstorming. Lots of practical ideas and examples for turning basic teaching points into learning games -- from casual games to teach facts and concepts, to detailed simulations that teach procedures and problem solving. Although I'm not in active instructional design mode for any projects right now, I did jot a bunch of ideas.
Then I started jumping ahead and reading the summary of each chapter. The summaries usually intrigued me enough to go back and read/skim the entire chapter.
Ultimately, I think I actually did read the entire book. Cheat codes and all.
Here's some more thoughts....
Are You a Gamer?
If you were born anytime after 1960, then, technically, you are a gamer.
"A gamer is someone who has grown up in the generation influenced and shaped by video games and technology." (p. 14)It's not whether or not you played games or still do, it's simply the fact that you were shaped by a popular culture that was shaped by video games.
Karl chunks groups out based on year of birth...roughly a decade at a time. Gamer 1.0s were born between 1960-1970. That's me. But I really don't feel like much of a "gamer." Compared to a Gamer 4.0 (those born between 1991-2000), I'm a bit of an ape (no offense to apes, mind you).
Gamer 1.0ers overlaps with Generation Xers (born between 1965-1979). I was born in 1968. I'm a Gen Xer and a Gamer 1.0er.
Gen Xers are digital immigrants; they did not grow up with the dual technologies of the Internet and video games. But then Karl says this:
"The first generation to be fully immersed in video games and the Internet is the gamer generation." (p. 28)So, Karl, am I of the gamer generation or am I not?
I feel like I'm floating in this liquid generational gap between the boomers and the gamers...
"So even if boomers do not leave the workplace en masse, they will most likely be leaving your organization, taking with them a vast amount of knowledge and possibly costing your company dearly if you don't prepare now." (p. 6)This strikes me as completely foreign. At my current company, I am the OLDEST employee at 39. No boomers here. We're a small company, founded by a couple of Gamers 2.0ers. I'm the Gen Xer who can hardly work a video control to save her life.
Just ask my CTO, who was recently peering over my shoulder as I struggled to figure out how to play a Flash Game. "Wow, you're really not very good at this, are you?"
Cheat Codes & Gaming the System
"But to gamers, cheat codes are not cheating. They are more like help codes." (p. 158)Bending the rules is fine, if it's not strictly disallowed.
"Successful people learn the unwritten rules of engagement and push those rules, work around those rules, and subvert those rules until they are highly successful." (p. 153)I agree. And some of them also go on to do illegal and highly unethical or questionable things.
It's a fine line, and Karl makes sure to mention that management must also guide the use of corporate cheats to the ethical benefit of organizations, employees and customers.
Karl recounts a workshop he ran one summer to teach business concepts to middle school kids using the game Railroad Tycoon. The first level objective was to build a park with high customer satisfaction ratings.
One group's satisfaction ratings were through the roof. It turned out they were drowning the unhappy guests, which the game allowed them to do. "It was a little disturbing to me, but to them it was part of the game." (p.157)
Gamers learn to play by the letter of the rules and not the intent. But they're still playing by the rules.
OK. Well, I think "bending the rules" is good. Thinking creatively is good. Working at the edge is good.
But my god. It's bad enough having a boomer in the White House.
Implications for Instructional Design
"Games have a different expectation. They desire instant (or almost instant) learning delivered in an informal manner. They do not want to log into the corporate learning management system, navigate to the desired course, and then page through forty screens to find that one desired piece of information." (p. 165)Hallelujah! So when can I stop writing these courses? And yet, I'm scared to admit that I don't know if I've got what it takes to do what this generational shift requires. That's way more creativity than I may have in me.
Can someone just write me a page-turner of a course to teach me how to be an instructional designer for the new millenium?
Corporate training departments are set up for the old-school boomer approach to training. Selling a different approach is hard. "We don't have the budget for that." "That's not in our plan." These are actual objections I've heard from clients when I've tried to discuss some alternatives.
And, hey, many e-Learning vendors are vested in the "old boomer" model of training. It's primarily what pays my salary and keeps my company in business. At least this year.
It's a big shift for instructional design. We're no longer talking about designing "courses"; instead we need to talk about helping companies design different strategies (and using games, blogs, wikis, instant messaging -- the gamers' learning tools), about crafting a strategic approach to learning and performance support throughout an organization.
I think we'll need to just send this book along to any prospects before we head out on a sales calls.
Some More Things You Should Know
This book is not just about gadgets, games and gizmos. It's also about using blogs and wikis and other collaborative tools for workplace learning and knowledge sharing.
This book isn't just for learning professionals. Managers, HR, recruiting officers, and consultants working with clients on organizational change initiatives should read it. Karl's provided some great roadmaps for implementing a Knowledge Transfer Process within an organization (see Chapter 11: Getting to the Next Level), with lots of specific examples and practical tips.
Knowledge Transfer will be an ongoing issue. As the boomers fade away and are completely replaced by a workforce of gamers who change jobs frequently, there will be a constant knowledge drain. It'll be essential that companies have systems in place to capture knowledge as it's being created.
You can read more about Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning at Karl's website. And be sure to buy a copy (or better yet, have your company buy it) for your collection.
Update: As soon as I published this, I saw a post in my reader from Richard Nantel, CEO at Brandon Hall Research: The Myth of Boomer Retirement. If boomers aren't going to be retiring and leaving the workforce in droves as predicted, then will the knowledge transfer gap be an issue? Do we actually have a lot more time to figure this out?