Education Spotlight By DOuGlAS DEll
Educating Millennials Via
Gaming and Social Networks
Online gaming is a familiar environment to Millennials, allowing exploration
and a networked learning experience.
Creating fail-free play environments
builds confidence and reinforces exploration and inquisitiveness. Games offer
the opportunity for entertainment while
subtly infusing fact-based memorization,
visual recognition, workflow practice,
and skills enhancement into a meaningful learning experience. Looking to the
gaming world for a direction forward, instructional design will need to mirror the
elements of highly effective games.
A review of online forums offers consistent information about the attributes of
E Graphics. High-definition, fast-load-ing, and three-dimensional graphics are
absolutely essential. User expectations
about the quality of graphics are constantly on the rise. Therefore each generation of graphics must improve on the last.
E Storylines. A strong storyline with
good character development and subplots makes for a compelling experience
that not only draws learners in but also
keeps their attention.
E Multiple players. Although many
games are single-player experiences, the
ability to play remotely with users around
the globe cannot be equaled. It fosters a
competitive spirit, recognizes specific talents, and offers learners the opportunity
to meet colleagues in a fun virtual setting.
E Character creation. The ability for
players to select attributes that better
prepare them for challenges is a feature
of many popular games and one that
translates to corporate training. Perhaps
an employee wants to take on the persona of a customer who has been denied a
claim or a rainmaker salesperson known
for selling large, lucrative policies. This
allows employees to apply real-world
roles to a game.
E Levels. With most training, we seek advancement—and the gaming world is no
different. As we learn, the ability to progress to new levels provides continuing
challenges; recognizes players’ expertise;
and, if networked, places them in the category of more skilled players. Learning
games should be no different: Progression
and expertise should go hand in hand.
Last year I visited a high school specializing in math and science. What stayed with me from that visit was the use of technology in the classroom. No matter the class—music, language, or engineering—there was a con- stant click of keyboard strokes. The students weren’t just looking at flat
information on a screen; they were interacting with the curricula, using software to
create melodies, translating words into meaningful messages, and writing code to
direct the movement of a robot’s arm.
That experience exemplified what is in store for workplace training: Technology is a
given and must be completely integrated into any learning program. It highlighted the
fact that Millennials will experience learning on their own terms, with tools and technologies they have used since childhood.
Given Millennials’ active transmission of information, traditional learning methods
are likely the least effective means for connecting with them. Based on current writings
and research, this age group prefers hands-on, self-paced exploration that creates truly
experiential learning. They also prefer open sharing through networked gaming and social
interactions. These preferences should be a concern for all industries and a wake-up call to
training and human resources (HR) departments. New designs and delivery mechanisms
are required if we intend to reach, educate, advance, and retain new talent in our employee
ranks. Learning professionals must translate these requirements into solutions that offer
compelling games and advanced learning through social interactions.