Friday, February 01, 2013

Using Game Design To Create Accomplishment Based Learning, Julie Dirksen #astdtk13 @usablelearning

These are my liveblogged notes from a concurrent session with Julie Dirksen. I'm at the ASTD Tech Knowledge 2013 Conference  in San Jose, California. Apologies for typos and incoherence.

In ID school, we learned about the A and the D-esign part is mostly -- then all this cool stuff happens in this black box.    

There's a lot of cool stuff from game design that we can apply.

It's not about making a multiple choice test look "gamey".

We can make stuff look like games, but it doesn't have the fundamental elements that make games engaging.

Gamification has gotten conflated with the idea of extrinsic rewards: badges, points, etc.  The scooby snacks approach to tricking people into it.  

How do we make the most boring topics interesting?

Raph Koster -- "in games learning is the drug" in A Theory of Fun.  It's learning, but it doesn't feel effortful.

Let's start with attention

How long is the avg attention span? We hear that it's 7-10 minutes.  But there's really not a practical limit to our attention span if we WANT to pay attention.  Think a 13 hour Lord of the Rings Movie Marathon.

You have a rider -- the conscious, verbal thinking brain -- and the elephant -- the automatic, emotional, visceral brain.

Your rider says things and your elephant feels stuff.  We think the rider is in charge. but the elephant is much bigger...and sometimes they compete. The elephant wants to eat the french fries and take a nap now....

When there's a conflict -- it's very easy to distract the elephant.  We are creates of urgency. The elephant has a hard time waiting. Your elephant is really concerned with what is happening RIGHT NOW.

"I know, but..." activities -- I know I shouldn't smoke, but... I know I should exercise, but....

So for our learners -- I need you to pay attention now, but when are you actually going to need this? It's not going to feel urgent or important until they get to that point.

so how do we get them to "I'm really glad I know this right now."

Hyperbolic discounting -- behavioral economics. (I'll give you ten dollars today or eleven dollars tomorrow? Ten dollars today or eleven dollars in a year? Ten today or 1,000 in a year?)  If it's really important and I know I'm going to need it I can wait.

Cake vs. Fruit Salad research study: Shiv and Fedorikhin 1999 (Stanford)
  • Higher cognitive load in one group vs. the other who had easy math tasks.
  • Then they asked each group if they wanted cake vs. fruit salad.
  • When we ask people to concentrate and use cognitive resources, it has an impact on will power. The people with the harder tasks took the cake 2:1. We've depleted their willpower.
  • We think it has to do with brain glucose. (Willpower by Baumeister)
The rider has to drag the elephant behind.

So if our learners are forcing themselves to pay attention we are lucky if we get 7-10 minutes.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience -- what does it look like when people are really engaged? When you're in flow state, you work on something for three hours without noticing.

It has to do with challenge vs. your skill level.  When things are too hard, it's hard and you might stop. (e.g., a game that's too hard). If your ability exceeds the skill level you might get bored.

The flow channel is in the middle -- keeping people on the edge of the flow channel.  How do we keep people engaged? It looks like an upward sloping wavy line.

When you play a game, the first levels are easy.  Then it gets harder and you get more challenged.

When you use a regular pattern you already know, it's the cognitive equivalent of coasting.

Your brain on Tetris.  Study showing glucose levels in brain when first learning Tetris vs. after a few weeks of practice.  Much less glucose used -- you're good at it now.  It becomes automatic.

Putting people back into the beginner state can make them grumpy. It's hard.

Learning activities are often just straight uphill climbs. Here's some info, here's some more, some more, more...

What games do well is give you a period of biking up hill, with a downhill slope, then another uphill climb -- so the slope goes up not just in a steady climb but in a bumpy road.

Structure a flow of goals - smaller goals that lead up to larger goals.  Ultimately you get to the boss fight.

Even a jigsaw puzzle has structure goals -- you find the corners and build the borders....
Monopoly -- first you buy property, then get a monopoly, then buy houses, then hotels...

Game designers think about this a lot.  Plants vs. Zombies is a great example of flow.  (She mentions a good slide share that talks about how they created that game).

Purpose is a big part of this.
Why am I doing this?
How do you take something that you won't need for six months so it feels important enough that you should learn it now?

Instead of WIIFM (what's in it for me?), how about WCIDWT (what could I do what that?)

Teaching remedial math in the context of creating a new coffee shop.  Instead of just teaching math skills, give it a purpose that will connect with your audience (what do they want to do with that math?)

Instead of a photoshop on working with layers, why not "how to create swanky blog headers?"

How do we give people the feeling that they're accomplishing something?

Restaurant Management course. Instead of doing modules on Food Safety and can you make this more interesting?

Scenarios -- can you level up your scenarios? Start with easy scenarios and get them harder...

First module could be a slow lunch shift and you're dealing with an employee who is late and a customer complaint. Doing all the skills at a really easy level.

Then move out a week, a month, a year...have customer service as a topic spread throughout all the scenarios.  So you're touching the topics more than once (as in a traditional elearning mod).

How can we make you need this right now? How can you create structured goals or a series of quest?  What are the immediate goal? short-term goals? mid-term goals?  The long-term goals?

1 comment:

Tita Beal said...

Interesting to set up the scenarios with game elements: a goal, constants, variables, chance - and several alternative realistic ways to achieve the goal so it's not a no-brainer.

Also build in dramatic elements - some basic ones:
- Something happens that makes the goal important to achieve ("inciting incident"),
- series of obstacles/challenges to make it difficult (rising conflict),
- a surprise plot twist to keep people interested,
- more challenges
- a crisis moment when a crucial decision must be made
- alternate possible decisions...
- and resolution (consequences of poor decisions, rewards and celebration for smart strategy, etc.)