#astd2013, Interactivity, Games, and Gamification: A research-based approach to engaging learners through games with @kkapp

On the last day of ASTD 2013 conference, I had an opportunity to meet Karl Kapp, a professor at Bloomsberg University. Kapp not only presented Interactivity, Games, and Gamification, a research interest of mine, he is also the author of a couple of books I own:

Kapp encouraged us to post tweets to #W209. He also pointed out his presentation could be found on the Kappnotes blog and slideshare.

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Engaging participants through interactive activities

In my previous post, I mentioned I was at the 2012 ASTD conference in Denver attending a pre-conference workshop called Interactive Techniques for Instructor-led Training. This workshop was led by Sivasailim Thaigarajan, Ph.D. and Tracy Tagliati. The entire session was great, and I picked up a number of ideas. In this post, I am going to share with you some of the interactive activities and games presented in the workshop. All of these can be found on The Thiagi Group Web site. If you are looking for ideas for your instruction, I suggest exploring their site and subscribing to their newsletter.

Here are the interactive activities demonstrated and modeled in today’s class:

Hello Game – A great game to obtain information from your participants either to start a program, to do a midday review, or to summarize at the end of a day.

Missing Sentence Game – This is an interactive lecture activity which is very useful to summarize a conversation or lecture.

The Thiagi Group has 36 free activities for interactive lectures.

Pages Game – A useful game for reviewing terms or concepts such as those found in a glossary.

$10 Auction – This was a fascinating game that illustrated the importance of debriefing an exercise. In our case, it was played with a $10 bill and a $5 minimum bid. This is a great exercise for facilitators.

Menu of 20 Reasons Game – This game was a quick way to learn new concepts. I enjoyed participating in this exercise.

Audio Tic Tac Toe – This exercise demonstrated how you could overload participants, and observe the results. This an cognitive simulation.

Envelopes Game – I see this very similar to the World Cafe. It is a great tool for learning about participants attitudes and opinions about a subject.

Thirty-Five Game – This is a quick Delphi exercise to rate ideas that are generated from a group of participants.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of games and activities that can be use and according to Thiagi should be used to replace content presentations. These activities are to pass on principles, concepts, and content through engagement. See what you can replace in your lectures by incorporating interactive activities. If you are at the University of Wyoming, and are curious, please come see me.

Let’s do a better job of engaging!

Starting a learning event with a simple Hello

I am reporting from the 2012 ASTD conference in Denver where I just finished the morning session of the pre-conference workshop called Interactive Techniques for Instructor-led Training. this workshop is being led by Sivasailim Thaigarajan, ph.D. and Tracy Tagliati.

They led with an activity called Hello. this exercise can be found on the Thiagi.com Web site along with hundreds of other exercises. Here is a link to the Hello exercise.

This was a fun exercise that served many purposes.

  1. Sets the stage to get everyone to participate and participate for the rest of the day.
  2. Easy to control the time. You can increase or reduce time needed.
  3. Works with multiple intelligence.
  4. Draws out more reserved participants.
  5. Everyone has a chance to have their voice heard.
  6. This is a way to split up cliques.

When we played the game, we address the following four questions or topic areas:

  1. Expectation. What do you want to get out of workshop.
  2. Experience. What is your background.
  3. Project. What project are you working on? What are objectives? Who are participants?
  4. Training effectiveness. What factors contribute to effectiveness of training?

The presenters did a great job of adjusting their lesson to the participants. I believe this was primarily due to not relying primarily on content but instead adjusting the activities.

As we progress in the course, Thiagi stressed that he would not be teaching content because the content was on the Web. Instead, he was going to show us how to adjust the activities to fit our content. So far, he has achieved his intent.

Thiagi also stressed that he does not believe in fun but does believe in engagement. Engagement comes when people find the material personally relevant.

The Hello exercise is part of frame game template. You can tailor it with your own questions. You can decide on as many questions as needed. You can change the exercise to be a closure or a midday summary game. It was nice to see how you could adjust the exercise to varying conditions.

I strongly recommend looking at this activity for one of your upcoming programs.

What happens if you give someone a toy planet?

What happens if you give someone a toy planet? This was one of the questions I was asked to answer after watching Will Wright’s TED talk about his game called Spore. Here is that presentation:

Spore is a creative game that allows you to develop creatures and nurture them across time and through evolution.

As I watched Will Wright’s presentation, he touched on a couple of things that really resonated with me. First of all, he reflected on his upbringing in a Montessori School and how the school used educational games to help develop understanding of concepts. This ties closely with what I have read about the Sudbury School. In essence, students are allowed to naturally explore their environment to learn. I am totally in favor of this approach. It takes a little time to wrap your head around the concept, but it is closely related to how we learn as adults. I think we have a hard time grasping that we can learn without sitting in a classroom simply because the majority of us sat in a classroom and had a curriculum forced upon us. But how much of what you learned in school do you really remember? Could you pass an exam on that material? How much do you remember when you are in charge of your learning? Just some things to ponder.

Another interesting point made in the presentation was that the game, Spore, allowed users to learn by trial and error. There were infinite opportunities to make modifications in design to test out a theory. If your design failed, you could easily restart, make modifications, and test your design. Edison was known for his successful inventions but equally known for how often he failed. He understood failure to simply be a stepping stone to success. I think we have created an environment in schools where failure is not appreciated. This has resulted in students who are reluctant to participate for fear of failure. A game like Spore provides an opportunity to try and try again.

The other piece not mentioned directly but I believe very important is the collaboration piece. As I play World of Warcraft, for example, there are times when I get stuck on a quest and need assistance. I can often ask friends who are online or I can tap into the massive wiki for the guidance I need. In a game like Spore, students can reference online material to help them move forward, but they can also add to the knowledge base. In many cases, this type of behavior can be learned but sometimes a small prompt is needed. I am still mistified by the number of professors who complain about Wikipedia but do nothing to correct it. Being able to add to a knowledge base is an essential skill to learn and participate in.

All in all, I enjoyed the presentation, and I think the game is a great way to explore ideas.