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Event Summary: " What’s in a Game? Strategies for Meaningful Use of Digital

July 26, 2019 4:10 PM | Kandice Kidd (Administrator)

By Susan Camberis

Editor, Training Today

Most talent development (TD) professionals are familiar with web-based learning. 

Organizations may choose web-based learning over face-to-face for a variety of reasons, including cost, sustainability, learning style, a remote workforce, branding, and wanting to ensure internal consistency.  But, effectively combining web-based learning with meaningful digital interactivity can be a challenge. 

ATDChi’s July webinar featured Dr. Nicole Buras and Lauren Merrild, Learning and Development Specialists at Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC). Their focuses are in experiential and collaborative workplace learning, and digital interactivity in web-based learning, respectively.  Buras and Merrild’s session discussed an HCSC case study and included applications and learnings for TD professionals. 

Innovations in Learning

Buras and Merrild shared a number of recent innovations in learning including storytelling, simulations, micro-learning, scenarios, animations, interactivity, and game elements.  They emphasized the importance of 1. Choosing the best solution to address the problem you are training to solve; 2. Good instructional design; and 3. Getting leadership buy-in.  According to Buras and Merrild, “Innovations in learning are not a solution; innovations are concepts to be adapted and incorporated into learning solutions as appropriate.” 

Merrild explained that successful execution of interactivity includes three primary elements:

1.      Physical interactivity:  Tangible interactions such as clickables, rollovers, drag and drop’s, and other methods.

2.      Cognitive interactivity:  Interactions and engagements that occur through the use of scenarios, games, stories, and other strategies.

3.      Interaction enablers:  Components that provide focused and adaptive guidance within a course. 

“Today it’s more of a reciprocal relationship between the learner and the technology,” according to Merrild.  What’s important is being conscious of each interactivity element and understanding how they work together. 

The Case Study

The impetus for using game-based learning at HCSC arose through continuous improvement efforts that identified that new associates lacked industry-specific terminology.  The team chose a web-based solution because it could automatically build in learning challenges and be incorporated into existing new hire training plans.  Game-based learning was also selected because it included multiple types of interactivity, which has been shown to positively impact knowledge gains.  The team used Storyline 3 for course design and Photoshop for editing.

HCSC created their own game-based course design model to meet the needs of their learners.  Their model combines three game tenets (narrative that builds in complexity, conflict & resolution, and characters) with the two enabling features of rules & challenges and awards & feedback.  The result is “play as a learning experience,” in which knowledge gains are achieved regardless of success in a game task.

What did HCSC learn?

In total, HCSC collected data on 121 participants.  Qualitative and quantitative data supported findings related to high levels of engagement.  Learners expressed positive perceptions of the game-based design elements and spoke highly of the activities.  Participants not only enjoyed the course but also demonstrated knowledge gains between the pre-and post-test evaluations.  According to Buras and Merrild, “This aligns with the literature on adult learning which argues for interactivity, and more narrowly game-based elements in WBTs.” (Arnold, 2014; Chatterjee, 2010)

HCSC found that game-based learning was a great fit with their employee-base, and they are looking for additional opportunities to further utilize game-based learning design in 2020.   

Want to learn more? 

Check out the article that Dr. Nicole Buras, Lauren Merrild, and their colleague, Dr. WooRi Kim, wrote earlier this year for Training Today entitled Balancing Game-Based Design and Evaluation: http://sco.lt/7N7IKu    


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