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Category Archives: eLearning

Gamification of Learning Experiences and Training Programs

In 2014, I had set myself the task of writing a series of articles on gamification and its application to the learning domain. Until recently, health concerns kept me from working on the articles further, but now that I am better, I’ve started working on them again. The first article in the series is already up.

Gamification of Learning and Training - the essence of it.

Click the image to read the article.

Read the first article in the series “Gamification – What does this new-fangled, star-spangled term mean?” here.

More article in this series would follow. I’ll be announcing the new articles on Twitter, and they’ll also find their way into the Creative Agni eZine – so if you are interested, you are welcome to follow me on Twitter, or Subscribe to the Creative Agni eZine (a short monthly e-newsletter.)

 

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Returning…

Dear Readers,

It has been a while that I posted anything here. A medley of reasons kept me away – the most important being some critical health issues. Yet, every dark cloud that hovers over your head filling your view of the world with darkness and gloom, either explodes into a storm of rain and drenches you cold, or sails away in time. This cloud is sailing away, and though I can still see its tail on the horizon, I am confident that the wind won’t reverse its course to bring it back. At least I hope that it won’t.

So, in all probability I am back.

I intend to dust away the cobwebs and scrub this blog to make it sparkle again. I also want to thank the latest follower of this blog who inspired me to return. (If you followed this blog yesterday, you are the one I am talking about.)

As I couldn’t move about a lot, I spent the last whole year experimenting with some new learning mediums. I worked extensively on the mobile platform (specifically iOS) and this year I intend to work on development of Android apps. I intend to share my learnings on content development for the mobile learning or m-learning medium here along with my thoughts on e-learning. I am also experimenting with Kindle. Recently I have once again started accepting corporate training assignments in Instructional Design and eLearning. I also plan to share my experiences from those programs here.

This blog primarily focuses on the psychological principles that relate to learning (directly and indirectly) so expect to see the regular stuff on cognitive psychology too 🙂

I leave you with a link to my latest article on the Creative Agni Website.

 

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Announcing the birth of the Creative Agni Instructional Design and eLearning eZine

I’d like to invite the readers of this blog to the Creative Agni eZine site. It was designed in my after-work hours. Those extra hours took their toll on my neck and shoulders, but when I was done, I felt that  it was all worthwhile 🙂

The Creative Agni eZine has the following five sections.

  • ID Fiction
  • The IDEAL
  • ELearning
  • The Creative Lounge
  • Sloth & Froth

Do visit the eZine site here. If you like what you see there, subscribe to the Creative Agni eLearning eZine 🙂

 

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A Question – Is Design an Inhibitor?

In one of the discussion groups of IDCWC Online (Wavelength’s Instructional Design and Content Writing Certificate – Online Course), a participant raised an interesting point.

She said that when a teacher or a trainer is required to follow pre-designed content, the opportunity for creating something that will enhance the effectiveness of the program for the learner, disappears.

I think she’s made a valid point. When we begin to roll-out a program, we are extremely sensitive to every little signal that we receive from the audience, and we don’t let go of our own instructional knowledge while implementing it; but with each pass, the content begins to harden. We start believing that there could be nothing better than to just follow the content. Thus, we stop directing the learning experience, and allow the content to become the director.

Having spent more than a dozen years developing eLearning content, and about 7 years implementing the content that I was instrumental in designing; I think that with every phase of ADDIE, some degree of rigidity is introduced in the content; and by the time it actually reaches the Audience, it acquires a sort of permanency…and nobody then wants to question the design at all.

Still wondering…is there a way out?

 

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Pros and Cons of Rapid e-Learning

Have you been blinded by the glare of Rapid eLearning Products yet?

  • Yes
  • No

What’s your answer?

I know that it’s difficult to answer this question objectively.  Don’t worry – let’s begin by first looking at some of its obvious advantages.

Advantages of Rapid e-Learning:

Rapid e-learning has multiple advantages. Here are 3 important benefits of employing Rapid eLearning.

  1. It can be produced by an SME-ID (Subject Matter Expert and Instructional Designer) team, thus trimming the development costs.
  2. It can be quickly put together depending upon the need of the hour – and note that with the rapidly changing technologies, the learning needs are in a flux.
  3. It can lead to standardization of eLearning content quality.

Rapid eLearning has the concept of the shrinking half-life of knowledge at its core – and it does help an organization benefit in the above three ways. Unfortunately, the obvious advantages of rapid e learning have led to its being employed for all kinds of content and all types of audiences.

Such indiscriminate use of rapid elearning tools, leads to certain disadvantages in the long-run.

Disadvantages of Rapid e-Learning:

Here are three serious issues with the use of Rapid eLearning.

  1. The content begins to look stale after a few lessons, and loses the learner’s attention.
  2. The best-possible instructional strategy is sidelined and the next possible one is applied! Thus, there’s a reduction in the learning effectiveness.
  3. The overall loss of learning effectiveness kills the learner’s appetite for eLearning…because the learner doesn’t know that all eLearning isn’t rapid elearning.

It doesn’t matter how many interactivity templates a rapid eLearning product offers to you…and how different they look on the surface…internally they still are “templates”. I agree that there is content with little or no longevity, and that such content can use rapid eLearning to avoid the loss of precious time – but I don’t see how non-technical high-longevity content or its learners can benefit from rapid eLearning.

Using rapid eLearning tools all the time could be like eating burgers three times a day for the rest of your life. It’s fast to cook, easy to order – and it saves a lot of time…but you can’t eat it all the time…not if you want to live!

 

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Using Games in eLearning Part III – The Basic Structure of an eLearning Game

In the previous two posts of this series, we discussed:

Let us now determine the structure of a game and see how this structure helps us establish an emotional connection between the learner and the content.

A learning game isn’t very different from the entertainment games, except that the theme of a learning game is “learning,” and not “entertainment.” The basic structure of the two types of games is almost the same.

A Learning Game consists of:

  • An environment
  • A Challenge
  • A Reward/Punishment
  • The Learning

Let us look at these four factors in more detail.

The Environment of an eLearning Game:

An elearning game like all other types of games has to first gain the attention of the gamer, and then it has to sustain it. A game, unlike other learning activity, should be high on immersion, and establish a suspension-of-disbelief, to whatever extent it can. Thus, an eLearning game requires that you establish an environment. You can do it through a story, a visual, or a scenario.

The Challenge in an eLearning Game:

Every game should include a challenge. A challenge is “a demanding or a challenging situation,” or, if we speak in terms of motivation, it is something that urges you to act towards a specific objective. A challenge can be incorporated in an eLearning game, by asking the learner to use the knowledge gained/skill developed through the content to <achieve a goal>. Remember that goal has to be designed keeping in mind the audience’s profile.

The Reward/Punishment Associated with an eLearning Game:

Every learner wants to “gain something” from a success, and is driven to avoid “losing something” through a failure. A challenge doesn’t transform into a game unless the learner has something to gain or to lose. Thus, an eLearning activity will not convert into a game unless you establish a reward/punishment for the outcome.

The Learning in an eLearning Game:

A game is a game and NOT an eLearning game if it doesn’t result in learning. Remember that learning or reinforcement of learning should result from the process of playing a game, and not as a reward for the game. Very often, eLearning game developers end up creating games where upon completing a game successfully, the learner learns – but otherwise he or she doesn’t learn! Instructionally, such games leave nothing for a person who doesn’t play well. Make sure that your eLearning game doesn’t suffer from this issue.

That’s all for now, dear readers! If you’d like to learn more about developing eLearning games, drop me a line, and I’ll write more about it.

 

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Using Games in eLearning – Part II – How are Games Different from other Learning Activities.

Why People Play Games?

Simply put, most people play games because they want to satisfy their esteem needs. The first three needs in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (the physiological needs, the safety needs, and the family & belongingness needs) are known as the deficiency needs, which prompt us to fulfill them through their deficiency.

However, everyone who has his or her deficiency needs fulfilled, experiences the need for esteem. We all wish to be famous, or victorious, or rich, or brilliant…essentially better than our neighbors (real or virtual) in some or the other way.  We play games because games help us to vicariously fulfill our esteem needs.

Another reason for playing games is physical. Our brains have a neurotransmitter called Dopamine. When our system is flushed with Dopamine, we feel energetic and excited. In other words, Dopamine helps us experience thrill and adventure – It gives us pleasure.

These two reasons combine and drive us towards playing games. Games enable us to vicariously experience fame, victory, affluence, respect, even thrill and adventure.

How are Learning Games Different from Other Learning Activities?

The main difference between learning games and other learning activities is that Games establish an emotional connection with the learner. The learner “feels” something (thrill, pleasure, esteem) when he or she plays a learning game. In other learning activities, the learner doesn’t “feel” but only “thinks.”

This feeling is what makes learning games different and more sought after than other sorts of learning activities. Recently, one of our online course participants spoke of how she was drawn into a particular learning interaction because it was a “game”. She had a lot of fun trying to get a term to land in the right place, and without even realizing that she was learning, by the time the game ended, she had learned.

Thus, in a learning game, the conscious experience for the learner remains the game, which learning makes its way into the learner’s mind silently, almost effortlessly. The learner “enjoys” the game and its corresponding rewards and experiences the corresponding emotions. Thus, the learner’s attention is fastened on to the game while the learning is conveniently transferred to the learner’s mind. This isn’t possible in any other kind of learning experience.

The Psychology Behind Games” is an excellent read for those who want to get into the mind of the gamer.

 

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