Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, April 29, 2005

Good Games Make Business Training An Effective Learning Approach

Companies in the U.S. spend about $60 billion a year on training their employees, but there's a good chance much of that is wasted. The reason: most training sessions are just too dull.

Photo credit: Sean Okihiro

A recent article in the Technology Section of the The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Online, entitled "Business Solutions: Better Training Through Gaming", reports on how a number of major U.S. corporations are turning their backs on more 'traditional' e-Learning methods and are now increasingly looking to programs that incorporate an element of gaming and, most importantly, competition.

Web-based e-Learning classes were designed to make training a richer, more interactive experience than traditional, class-room based courses - however, they "just allow employees to get bored at their own pace".



According to Marcia Sitcoske, director of Cisco Systems Inc.'s Creative Learning Studio, trainees aren't learning effectively. In fact, "People aren't even completing these things, they're so boring."

Cisco Systems' Creative Learning Studio, formed in 2001, uses high-quality video and entertainment to enliven its vast library of online training tools. It now has about 4,500 e-Learning courses of varying lengths.

According to the WSJ article:

"One such course, for employees and outsiders seeking certification as authorized Cisco "networking professionals," uses a game to help teach fundamentals of building a high-speed network of shared storage devices. Called SAN Rover (for storage area network), the game requires students to race the clock to gather the pieces -- hard drives, switches and other components -- and correctly put together such a network while dodging crashing asteroids."

The game, which reinforces the skills students learn in classes and from their reading, has been played about 2,000 times since it was introduced last June. "More and more people are learning that gaming can be useful in training in the corporate environment," Cisco's Ms. Sitcoske says.

In another example, the WSJ article cites Borland Software Corp., which wanted to give its sales staff an incentive to master details of its product line, before an annual world-wide sales meeting earlier this year, and was looking for better results than with its previous PowerPoint-laden e-learning program. So it turned to QB International, a San Rafael, Calif., e-learning company, to develop online study guides that incorporated a series of games for testing students' knowledge of the material.

The simple games, based on such diversions as tic-tac-toe and hangman, featured a series of timed questions. Each member of the sales staff had to get at least 80% of the answers correct on a series of nine tests interspersed with the lessons, and those who received perfect scores were entered into a drawing for five Apple iPods. Everyone also had to take a final comprehensive exam of 100 questions, and the one with the highest score and fastest time received a $3,000 prize.

Though the games weren't very sophisticated, they were enough to motivate the highly competitive salespeople. Scores in the preliminary exams were posted for all to see.

"All of sudden, people are instant messaging each other, 'You're on top today, but you're going down,' " said Wynn Johnson, director of field readiness for Borland, based in Scott City, Calif. "The competition is a motivator."

It would appear that people not only learn more when they're enjoying themselves, they also become more motivated when competing against each other.

Readers' Comments    
2008-07-30 15:33:00

Squirly Black

Working in a fun environment improves the quality of the work. This is supported by a series of tests, of which, among the first, was web-based e-learning. This soon faded as a method of improving the skills of a company’s employees because it "just allow employees to get bored at their own pace", and therefore games were introduced in the system to better stimulate the participants. Even simple games such as tic-tac-toe and hangman would arouse one’s interest, if not for improving yourself, but for the prizes at stake. I would strongly recommend this idea to be used in every company that offers training programs, because competition among employees is always a good idea.

2005-07-30 16:09:06


strange, boot cool n good

posted by on Friday, April 29 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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