Beyond Gamification: Think Like a Game Designer to Create Engaging, Meaningful Instruction

Speaker: Dr. Karl Kapp

 Dr. Kapp began the presenting by asking the audience for five things they think about a an instructional designer when they are designing a course. Their answers included, branding, how much time the course would take, measures of success, outcomes, and platform to be used.

 In a very large ballroom, nobody mentioned motivation.

 He presented a scenario and tried to use to let audience pick teams and vote. Unfortunately it seemed he had locked his questions and so had to get answers by show of hands. Ideally Pollev lets audience answer questions by browser or app and display their answers immediately.

According to Dr. Kapp, research now shows that people are wired to enjoy learning, but more facts are retained through stories than bulleted lists.

Learners are motivated by challenge, curiosity, control, fantasy, cooperation, competition and recognition. If something is too easy nobody cares, figuring out they don’t need to pay attention. Learners want some sense of control over their learning as well.

Kapp referred to the unholy trificate of gamification – points, badges, and leaderboards. These tools have their role, but sometimes they are not enough or the right approach for the audience. Perhaps for instance engineers would rather solve problems. Malone’s theory of intrinsically motivating instruction shows that the impact of external motivation can decrease over time.

 Fantasy helps learners to apply old knowledge to understand new things and help them remember the content. Emotionally people can connect with the experiences in the fantasy and no have to bring with it “real world” concerns or fears.

In games, failing is allowed, it’s acceptable, and it’s part of the processes. Continual success would bore the learner. Research indicates that our brains grow when we make a mistake because it is a time of struggle. However, some research says you learn more from the failure of colleagues than your own failures. With your own failures you make excuses and justifications, there is distance with observing and learning from failures of others. That’s why it can be educational to see a character in a story fail.

 We as designers need to point out to learners what they don’t know, and create cognitive dissonance that they want to have solved. (paraphrasing Knowles). To do so he like to send out a survey pre-class to get people discussing and wanting to know the answers before they start.

Curiosity and mystery should be drawn into the design – gaps between known and unknown that needs to be resolved. The following enhance mystery:

  • Novelty

  • Complexity

  • Inconsistency

  • Surprise

  • ·Incomplete information

  • Inability to predict the future

 Videogames don’t start off with a lot of instructions – they throw you into the action right away, providing complexity before mastery.

Quizzing learners with embedded question a very good way to build in spaced repetition and increase retention and recall. Most gamified platforms use this.

 Learners shouldn’t be able to do things so quickly. Too little challenge leads to boredom. Start with challenge, and build on the challenge level as they master. But too much challenge can make learners anxious. How do you put learners into flow state? Learners have to know the task can be achieved. Present clear goals, give control over actions (autonomy) and allow them to concentrate.

Choices allow learners to be motivated, give them a sense they can master content. When given control over the learning, learners invested more time and retained more. Sometimes it helps to let learners choose their path in the beginning to make it seem more applicable to their circumstances - especially if you have some difference in your learners.

On a side note, people who study in-person presentations have noticed a “magic T” formed of the learners in front rows and aisles who tend to learn more. But it’s self-selection, not that the teacher focuses there most.

At the end of the presentation Dr. Kapp had the audience summarize key takeaways of the presentation. Their responses were:

  •  Competition

  • Curiosity

  • Choice

  • Non-linear

  • Fantasy

  • Mastery

  • Learning from failure

  • Fun

 Dr Kapp pointed out that none of these were on the audiences list in the beginning.

Other key takeaways:

  •  Military is in the forefront of using gamificaiton in training – war games, strategy games.

  •  Medical industry was one of first industries to do so.

  • He is inspired by Choose Your Own Adventure books and cheap spy novels.

  • He also tries to talk to clients and see what they like (for example some might like Survivor type shows, which would be a good thing to adapt to games)

Microlearning: Making a Tangible Difference in Healthcare Training and Patient Outcomes

Speaker: Rich Lanchantin of Qstream

 “Qstream is a continuous learning program for knowledge retention and critical thinking skills that is respectful of time”.

 What is microlearning?

·        Breaking information into small segments to get the attention of busy employees?

·        Information delivered “just in time”?

·        Series of short videos and presentations organized on a web portal?

·        Scenario-based challenges delivered over spaced intervals to assure retention and behavior change?


For Lanchantin they are all correct, but Qstream focuses on the scenario-based. They use the “spacing effect” (i.e. spacing content out to improve retention) and the “testing effect” – scenario based Q & A which best reinforces learning. It also helps improve critical thinking.

 Merely chunking information into smaller segments in an unsystematic way has proven ineffective.

 Qstream sends a notification via email or mobile device that the recipient has a question today. The activity only takes 5-10 minutes to do, which learners really appreciate. They recommend rich, relateable scenarios with a question and complete explanation. Then the learners sees the leaderboard to show how they are doing, which is very motivational. Learners can be put into teams to compete against each other.

 Qstream claims approximately 92% engagement, even in cases where the activity is not required. Engagement is defined as going through the program at least once.

 They sell Qstream to many of the major hospitals who put in their own scenarios. Different departments use it, as well as for residency education. Also used by pharma and biotech – in particular sales reps, as there are thousands of pharmaceutical sales reps who need to be kept update. Also used by clinical trial monitors, and medical device companies.

 They get frequent feedback that short time span is really appreciated.

Users can comment on the questions. This not only makes it social, but provides immediate feedback for the designer, in case they want to refine or improve the questions.

It is customizable, but typically the users will go through a sequence of getting a question every other day for about 8 weeks. They will usually see the same question more than once to reinforce the learning. It adds up to about 2 hours of content, 5-10 minutes at a time.

5 Steps to Implementing a Modern Mobile Learning Solution Across a Distributed Workforce

Key takeaways from Courtney Cordova’s (the Whole Foods Global Director of Training) presentation on their mobile learning initiatives.

  • Almost all (99%) of restaurant and retail organizations report implementing, or beginning to implement mobile devices (99%) and mobile apps and software (97%) for their workforce.

  • They are finding many employees are taking 8 hours a week “looking for things”, so when you can use mobile to decrease that time they see:

    • 20% decrease in total onboarding and training time

    • 20% increase in productivity (revenue per employee)

  • most people now “have a computer in their pocket”

Their model is ADKAR, the five building blocks of change:

 When you create:                                                                                  You hear:

Awareness                                                                                                “I understand why . . .”

Desire                                                                                                          “I have decided to . . .”

Knowledge                                                                                               “I know how to . . .”

Ability                                                                                                         “I am able to . . .”

Reinforcement                                                                                        “I will continue to . . .”

Example of becoming more healthy – with many people everything is there but Desire.

Steps they followed:

Step 1 – The challenge

  •  Create “challenge statement”

  • Brainstorm with the L&D group, team members, and other stakeholders on the business value, current state, and hoped for future state.

Step 2 – Creation of persona

 How do I look at this person’s experience, and how do I approach them?

 Figure out the following:

  • Name?

  • Demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, education level)?

  • For age, don’t go to average, go to median (typical age), averages can really skew things

  • Experience with the company?

  • Experience with the role?

  • Biggest challenge on the job?

  • What do they value most about the role?

  • What motivates them about the role?

  • What does a typical day look like?

  • Is their any technology used through the day?

  • Most likely setting for taking training?

  • Does the learnr play any games?

  • Other questions?

Cordova went through this with an audience member who was developing training for the line men for a utility company. I was perhaps not surprised that the only things they were coming up with for motivation was the money and supporting their family. One person added a motivation for many of these kinds of workers is not having to work in an office and be at a computer, which Cordova agreed with.

Tech questions to be addressed include:

  • Are you going to build or buy the technological solution?

  • Provide devices or BYOD (bring your own device)?

    • It might make sense to use the phones they already have, but if so how do you make sure that’s OK with leadership?

    • Will you reimburse if they are using their device?

    • Will you give them a choice of yours or their device?

      •  With older people in particular it may be easier to provide the device. If doing so:

        • What do you already have?

        • How will you guarantee security?

        • Can it be accessed outside of company wifi?

  • Does it fit with company values (i.e. for Whole Foods they want to reduce waste, thus reduce or eliminate printing)

  • App or browser based?

  • How will you gather analytics?

  • Do you lock it down when not during work hours?

 Questions about content to be addressed:

  • What content do you want to provide?

  • Who will provide/develop it?

  • How will you test it during pilot stage?

  • Job aids?

  • Reminders?

  • Standard operating procedures?


  • User frequency – how often are they using it

  • Decrease in time searching for things

  • Increase in productivity

  • Unique users

  • Page views

  • Be smart about it – maybe a short amount of time is appropriate for that particular job aid, but too much time in an SOP might be an indication it’s too complicated and needs to be broken up.

Other takeaways:

  • The launch was behind schedule. So they made posters with QR codes they hung in the employee only areas so employees could start accessing content and getting their feet wet.

  •  They are using inkling – good for both informal, self-directed way, but can also be good for more formal if desired., which can do both app and browser, which they need.

  • In her previous job at Bridgestone they phased out their LMS and went to other solutions.

ATD 2019

The ATD Conference was back in town in late May, and for me that means an opportunity to earn a free day of attendance in exchange for a free day of volunteering. As usual, I’ll dribble out highlights and key takeaways throughout the upcoming months.

The Engagement Economy: Social Learning, User Generated Content & LMS Gamification

Katrina Baker, the Senior Learning Evangelist, Adobe started with her definition of  “social learning”

-        Encourages communication and sharing among learners

-        Can be blended into any type of delivery format

-        Every learner is a teacher, collaborator, and in some cases a curator

 Learning technology promotes social learning through:

-        Discussion boards

-        Gamification. Gamification makes learners feel more empowered (and thus more intrinsically motivated) by being offered a range of courses, rather than a few that somebody else has determined they must take.

-        User generated content workflows (ties into gamification in some cases, for example by letting users earn points through curation and different activities such as sharing their knowledge). Since the L&D staff can’t possibly know everything an organization needs, it can be helpful to create a framework so everybody can share knowledge.

-        Motivation through reward, both tangible and intangible (badges give us a way to recognize an accomplishment, and a community that recognizes it)

 For a reward to serve as motivation, the learner has to want it. Obvious, but important. Ones mentioned by the audience:

-        Coffee

-        Cash

-        Free food

-        Give-aways

-        Upper mobility/opportunities

-        Time off

-        Employment

-        Education

-        Certification

-        Continuous system access (revoking privileges)

-        Bragging rights

-        Access to your workplace


-        Have metadata associated with them (course, name of learner, when learned etc.)

-        Are portable – can be displayed on social media platform

-        Open badges is a Mozilla created standard for badges

-        Badgr – intermediary between learning platform and social media site (so badges you earn can display on the social media site)

 Creating your intentional design for social learning. Tailor the approach to what you are trying to accomplish, using such things as:

-        Users groups

-        Courses or learning programs

-        Points levels

-        The behaviors being rewarded

-        Other social learning elements.


1.     There is often resistance to social learning – try for a little victory with the learners you will have most success with (as a prototype) to then sell to your target learners.

2.     Don’t make it too hard to achieve something tangible – receiving rewards more quickly will build and maintain engagement. When you are using a competency-based model and you have different levels it gives them something to aim for.

3.     A paper certificate of the badge is a nice option – people like to have it to show off or prove/document their participation.

4. is a free way to build games, one audience member finds it great for new hire training

5.     Sales organizations have found gamification – a natural fit for a lot of their (naturally competitive) learners.

6.     Escape rooms, RPGs and treasure hunts are popular frameworks for gamification in the audience.

7.     Some learners enjoy the friendly competition of leaderboards that let you see how many points everybody has, and what level you are all at.

8.     You can also give extra rewards for tasks being accomplished early (or even on time if that’s an issue).

9.     Very hard to get SMEs who have to earn billable hours involved (doctors, lawyers). A mentorship program is one way that might work in such organizations.

Create Scenario-Based Training

Ray Jimenez, the Chief Learning Architect of Vignettes Learning shared tips and reasons for creating scenarios in training.

A scenario triggers a story in the learners’ minds featuring themselves. It allows the learners to bring in their own stories. (remember, it’s not your story that you are telling, it’s their story.) Scenario based learning can be so compelling that learners sometimes revisit their mistakes even after passing just to satisfy their curiosity about what could have happened.

Tension, challenge and choice gives ownership to the learner and help them emotionally engage, forcing them to reflect and explain to themselves why they made that choice. Tension puts people off balance, and they have to do something to resolve it. Scenarios help move people from one situation to another – go on a journey to a place you want to take them. They provide a safe way to make choices and discoveries. Scenarios create expectations and accountability. They help learners connect abstract concepts to real life.

Don’t do scenarios unless you can use tension, challenge and choice. They don’t make sense for all situations, especially when you have to assess with multiple choice. Put reasonable limits in terms of the number of choices and time it takes. Otherwise it gets too expensive and complicated.

Don’t put in a speaker or lecturer to tell the learner what they need to do, this just takes them out of the story, as will interrupting participants interacting with character or story to provide an insight, resource etc.

The scenario does the teaching, so you don’t have to say “right” or “wrong”. In real life there is no voice in the sky that says “right” or “wrong”. But you do experience consequences from your choices.

Some traits of good scenario material:

·      Relevant

·      Emotional

·      Tragic

·      Shocking

·      “You know the problem without having to state it”

·      Generates questions why

·      Tells a story

·      You want to know how to avoid it happening to you

How to Develop Online Soft Skills Training Part 2

Once you’ve done the analysis detailed in last week’s post you can start to develop out your scenarios and the flow of the lesson. Scenarios where users can make choices are so much more effective for knowledge retention and transfer than just telling the learner something.

She uses Adobe sketch to map out scenarios. It’s easy and free, but only works on an iPad. You can do the same thing in PowerPoint with hot spots to different spots, then import in Captivate (or other systems). Define what the storyboard is for and how detailed it needs to be for your stakeholders. It can be a lot of work to put things in a storyboard that you know you are going to use anyway.

1.     Start with the problem.

2.     Provide some content about the problem so they feel they are learning something.

3.     Present the scenario.

a.      It’s very important that your scenario has believable and relatable characters.

b.     Charlie Brown is an example, he fails, but he keeps trying and learning and you want him to succeed.

c.      The learner becomes like the coach who guides them.

d.      SMEs should be able to give you realistic scenarios to work with.

4.     Branch to three choices with feedback.

5.     Present a second scenario. This one should be similar but a little harder to reinforce the learning. Also if the person just guessed the first time it gives them another chance to actually think it through.

6.     Then review the material.

7.     Then final assessment if required.

a.      Multiple choice tests, while easy, are ineffective, as people can be great test takers, but miserable at doing and vice versa.

b.     She encourages “Authentic assessments” that examine the learner’s ability in a real world context. This promotes better transfer back to the job.

c.      Assessments can be as simple as the learner making the best choice of three options after presented with a scenario. If students are struggling you can customize and give more until they make the correct choices.

8.     But the learners’ responses to the scenarios could also be seen as measurable assessments.

9.     This structure allows you to “sneak in” more content, especially for those who give wrong answers. 

Highlights from the 2019 Adobe eLearning Conference

In addition to great food and a hilarious keynote speech by Andrew Tarvin on using humor in the workplace I attended several very interesting presentations that I’ll post over the upcoming weeks.

My first session was Create Soft Skill Training with Jean Marrapodi, PhD, CPLP Chief Learning Architect, Applestar Productions.

Soft skills training is difficult because it attempts to teach behavior instead of knowledge and is not measurable. A lot of soft skills training is about observing what works in real life. 

 How to Develop Online Soft Skills Training – Part 1

 1.     Know where you are going and why (the who, what, when, where and how). Too many people think eLearning development is just about chunking up content and making it look pretty.

2.     Invest in discovering what the actual problem is -why are they asking you to do this? Make the client articulate what is behind the request.

a.      For example: “we need training on communication” – so many things could be behind that, so you need to ask – is it:

i.     Conflict?

ii.     Nobody is picking up the phone?

iii.     Poor listening?

iv.     Something hit the fan?

v.     Something else entirely?

3.     Figure out how this issue is impacting the business.

4.     What will the KPI (key performance indicator) be?

5.     Refine the question of “What do they need to know and do?” down to a single sentence. “Our learners will know X and be able to Y. She really focuses on working with SMEs to get it to one sentence, if she can’t the problem is not defined enough. Sometimes you have to throw your best guess together to give them something to bounce off of and help them figure it out. That one sentence gives you a goal, and also a way to fight scope creep and help focus people.

6.     Determine how will we know that they know and can do it? This requires research, finding scenarios etc. to get the right content to apply to the situation.

7.     Determine how will they know that they know and can do it? People need confidence to actually do and apply what they’ve learned. How sure is the learner of their ability to apply what they have learned?

8.     How do you know they know that they know and can do it?  It can be helpful for them to see what happens when they fail and what consequences are.

9.     Build the framework before you build the content.

10.   She always uses simple mindmaps. That one sentence you created is the goal. From the goal you usually have a few outcomes. The outcomes are supported by your objectives. The goal is “now”, the outcomes are “later” (i.e. things they will be able to do in the future).

11.   Only once you’ve clarified goals, outcomes and objectives should you build out content and activity.

12.   Always focus on the learners’ WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

Join us next for Dr. Marrapodi’s approach to developing scenarios.

Presenter Tips from the Conference

From personal experience I know that creating a good in-person presentation can be both time-consuming and draining. Here’s a couple tips I learned:

  1. One presenter used an easy way to assess the audience in the beginning by having them rate themselves on familiarity with gamfication –who falls between 1-3, 4-7, 8-10 to easily assess audience - can be done by raising hands .

  2. Another recommended starting a presentation with “I would like you to take this journey with me . . . “ and then describing the beginning of a project and its challenges as away to make your training more of a story that engages the audience.

Sententia Gamification: Gamification for Talent Development: Deconstructing the Psychology of Games to Entice, Engage, and Encourage Learners

Dr. Jonathan Peters, Chief Motivational Officer shared his contagious enthusiasm for bringing more gamification to learning. Key takeaways:

  • Entice, engage and encourage (them to take learning from game space to work space).

  • Hard, because our brains associate the learning with whatever environment it happens in.

  • Gamification is motivational design. It deconstructs game atribures to drive game-like player behavior ina non-game context.

  • “saying motivation design” instead helps with people who think their work is too serious for games

  • Loyalty programs are a type of gamification – not necessarily fun, but using game mechanics to drive behavior

  • When designing, we tend to create experiences we enjoy. But we need to know what our learners consider to be “fun”.

  • Most studies done on college students, because they are cheap - however may not be representative

  • With many games, they may have more fun, but outcomes aren’t any better. Maybe the mechanics don’t resonate with them (badges, points etc.)

  • GAMES Design Method:

    • G oal

    • A dventure

    • M ethod

    • E ngagement

    • S ync-it

  • They train people in gamification – apprentice, journeyman, master craftsman.

  • One fun example was a game to train employees about something they considered boring. In it Terry turkey has no feathers, every question you answer gets him a feather. If you don’t get at least 22/25 feathers turkey explode. Most people did it twice just to see him explode.

  • Different player types, according to Richard Bartle

  • Killers – focus on winning, rank, and direct peer-to-peer competition, engaged by leaderboards and ranks (it’s not enough for them to win, they want to watch you die)

  • Achievers – attaining status and achieving preset goals quickly and completely

  • Socialites – focus on socializing and a drive to develop a network of friends and contacts – newsfeeds, friends list, chats

  • Explorer – focus on exploring

  • Dr Peters discussed the Reiss Motivational Profile, which is an empirically based taxonomy of human needs and desires culled from a huge data set, cultures from 4 continents. We all have because they move our genes forward. I would like to know more about this, and wonder whether cultural conditioning and gender expectations play a role in who and how people prioritize and display these traits:

    • Acceptance

    • Beauty

    • Curiosity

    • Eating

    • Family

    • Honor

    • Idealism

    • Independence

    • Order

    • Physical activity

    • Power,

    • Saving

    • Social contact

    • Status

    • Tranquility

    • Vengeance

Instructional Designers: Change Agents and Leaders

Key takeaways from Dr. Carla Lane’s presentation:

1. It can be invaluable to either work with a program evaluator, or become your own program evaluator. Keep evaluating every few months.

2. Sequence of change agent roles

1.     develop a need for change

2.     establish an information exchange relationship

3.     diagnose problems

4.     create an intent to change in the client (s)

5.     translate an intent into action

6.     stabilize adoption and prevent discontinuance

7.     achieve a terminal relationship

3. There is really so much an instructional designer needs to do nowadays. Field is finally coming into its own, becoming a real profession.

4. Both Training magazine and elearning magazine frequently offer all kinds of virtual seminars to aid professional development.

5. Highly recommends reading Diffusion of Innovation by Everett Rogers, particularly Chapter 9 on becoming a change agent.

6. The recent tax cut has caused many education and training budgets to be reduced drastically. These budgets are always the first thing to be cut.

7. Trying to convince the mass of a new idea is useless. Convince innovators and early adopters first. Usually about 25% of learners are innovators 25%, and 13.5%  early adopters.

8. People don’t resist change. They resist people trying to change them.

9. “The problem with being a professor these days is that you can’t make a living working at one university, you have to work for two or even three”. Dr. Lane works at Cappella University and teaches elsewhere.

10. In earlier times classes started slowly to ease the students into the routine. Now they are moving towards hitting the ground running, especially in establishing and communicating expectations early on.

11. Blackboard and moodle have some mobile options.

12.  At Cappella they don’t test anymore, but focus more on projects, assignments, and providing foundational reading.

13. “There are a lot of students who don’t like working together. You probably have a lot of employees who don’t like to work together”.

14. It is hard to get supervisor to invest in training, especially these days. A lot of people she asked to attend could not get supervisors to agree. They saw no value in a conference, or at least not worth even losing a day of work, much less the other expenses. She said they called it a “symposium” instead of a “conference” for this reason.

NASA Goddard Distance Learning Models

1. NASA has 500 interns each summer and one person to manage them. Responding to all their emails would be overwhelming, so they started a college intern portal with Blackboard’s Coursesites, which is free. Free was important, since their budget is low. Students can’t self-register, they enroll them.

The site works well for interns to find roommates, discuss housing options, share pictures, submit their paperwork deliverables, and see a calendar of their mandatory training and events. It also allows them to get feedback through surveys of interns and download reports and track an intern’s progress.

2. Goddard also provides distance learning for educators to get up to speed for STEM content needs. NASA staff learning is done in a separate department.

3. They use the ADDIE framework. The analysis phase involves both needs assessment and goal setting. They really work with school districts so that they come to NASA with their needs, instead of NASA trying to guess what they want and need. For example, New Jersey came to them with a need for more content about sustainability, so they created it.

4. Their design phase includes:

·      Learning objectives

·      Nasa mission and content

·      SME

·      Assessment instruments

·      Media selection

5. Their most common modes of training are 60- 90 minute webinars that are pretty passive learning, and “webshops”. Webshops are for professional development and last 6-7 hours. They are often held on the professional development day of school. An instructor goes over content available and demos hands on activities and ways to engage with students.

6. They used to do more in person training, but that is being replaced by online. They use a range of free tools, focusing on whatever technology their users are most comfortable with (or will work within existing firewalls and other constraints).

She primarily uses adobe connect for webinars and webshops, but also vidyo, Skype, zoom, Google hangouts, Facebook and Ustream.

7. Webinar software allows the option to comment on technical difficulties, and provide feedback on how useful the content was, which they try to use. They can also see looks at analytics from registration and who/how long people attend live seminars or watch recorded ones. However, it’s hard for them to really collect data on individuals “gotten their hands slapped by the lawyers several times”. Even for the interns, hard to track whether they are getting jobs etc.

8. They have some programs where they offer “badges” as “microcredentials” to show expertise on certain topics.

Learning Styles . . . An Incoherent Notion? What the Research Reveals

Dr. Jolly Holden’s view that learning styles are an incoherent notion, and finding what motivates learners is far more effective really resonated with me.

In his presentation he asserted, “The concept of learning styles in predicting learning outcomes is a commonly misunderstood concept when designing content. While the perception is people learn better when information is presented in their preferred learning style, current evidence has not confirmed this”. Visual/Auditory/Kinesetic (VAK) is not a style, but a modality. The bottom line is that  “humans are multi-sensory” in that the brain performs several activities at once when processing information. Learning (retention) is generally independent of the modality used to acquire whatever is learned.

Some misperception that the media used affects retention, often illustrated erroneously and incorrectly by the Cone of Experience, which is too general, doesn’t take into account individual learners and their motivations, the quality of the content, and is not backed by any sort of evidence based verification.

Learning styles provide no indication of what the student are capable of. What is most important is motivation, ideally intrinsic motivation. Don’t stereotype your students and limit them. Students can learn from something scrawled on a “greasy old paper bag” if they are motivated.

Gamification for Leadership Development - Adelle Dantzler, M.S.Ed

A game involves engaging in a challenge, defined by rules, that have a quantifiable outcome, with interactivity and feedback. Simple example – in 10 seconds, list 3 countries that begin with U.

Game mechanic elements – constructs of rules or methods designed for interaction with the game.

Gamification – motivation design. The use of game elements and game mechanics in a non-game context to engage learners and solve problems.

Recommends Karl Kapp’s two texts:

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice

GAO had a customized, but off-the-shelf curriculum for leadership which focused on standard competencies – influence, team-building, coaching, integrity etc. They wanted to make it more practical and relevant for their leaders, with more relevant scenarios, reflection and action planning. Audience analysis revealed they didn’t want role-playing.

Virtual leadership curriculum that they developed:

  • 9 webinars

  • Before webinars learners do pre-course resource exploration and scenarios

  • No lecturing in the webinar. Goal of webinars was to:

o   Review scores

o   Delve into resources for rationale

o   Discuss application of principles to situations

o   Create action plan

  • Goal:  Relevance and usefulness

  • Biggest challenge was motivation – how to motivate them to learn about an abstract concept like “accountability”

  • Design instruction and game play elements together

    • Create player persona – motivation of learner, characteristics and desired behavior (audience analysis)

    • Really figure out desired behavior change

      • How can they use those principles in their work situations?

      • What is current behavior?

      • What is desired behavior?

      • What is the gap? (be specific, write it down, test your understanding with others).

    • Needs to be reflected in objectives

    • Build in Level 2 Kirkpatrick evaluation

“if there’s no linkage to the performance goal, it’s just fun” – always ask yourself “will using a game encourage the learner to interact with the content and achieve a learning goal?”

United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) – Dr. Reggie Smith

Key takeaways from Dr. Smith’s presentation on the United States Distance Learning Association:

  • USDLA has been around from 1987.

  • Stakeholders includes those in Higher ed, K-12, home school, telehealth.

  • Many people think online education is just for kids, and only in rural areas.

  • Some tests show that “boomers” do better with distance learner than teenagers, perhaps since adult learners may pay more attention. So don’t generalize by age.

  • Distance learning includes a wide range of things,

Learning Engagement Platforms

One participant introduced the concept of a learning engagement platform – not an LMS that requires highly skilled administrators to create and update courses, which is usually quite time-consuming. I’d be curious to hear from somebody who actually saw an effective one in use. I truly believe that the highest level of mastery of a subject is to be able to teach it. However, I would worry about the quality, and also any possible viewpoint that the work of instructional designers can be easily replaced.

According to

. .  . the Learning Engagement Platform is designed to allow anyone to create course material and launch a training course in a very short amount of time with little to no training because the LEP includes an integrated cloud-based authoring tool. We’re talking Operations Managers, Sales Reps, Front Of House Staff, and Chief Baristas: anyone in your organization who has expert knowledge will be given chance to share their knowledge and shine. Those best suited for creating these trainings will finally be empowered to do so, without being limited by the chain of command or time constraints of the past. . . . The LEP was created to be used in conjunction with an LMS, not instead of. Learning Engagement Platforms are designed to integrate with existing LMSs so that none of your existing content is gone to waste. The combination of the two will allow for your existing process to remain in place while enabling your internal Subject Matter Experts to begin initiating elective training simultaneously.

Peace Corps - E-Learning at the Peace Corps: A Moodle Deployment Story and Lessons Learned

For the Peace Corps, eLearning is a critical enabling technology supporting the growth of a culture of continuous learning, and a key component of agency knowledge management.

They use an iceberg metaphor where there are a few “above the water” formal learning efforts (, webinars, and their online learning), but underneath are many aspects of informal learning such as YouTube.

Their first LMS was in 2010. There were two separate learning management systems – one for volunteers and one for staff. They decided to upgrade and merge the two.

It is important to have a vision about what you are trying to accomplish with eLearning. For the Peace Corps it was a commitment for all staff and volunteers to be able to learn, grown, and support the mission to the best of their ability and collaboratively work across the agency to promote a global culture of continuous learning. The new LMS was intended to be less about compliance and more about being mobile friendly, and creating learning paths and competency frameworks.

They created a two-minute video for kick off to explain/motivate. Implementation was stressful and complicated, developed a commitment to “radical candor”. An online team space critical to focusing on work, not the meetings.

Deciding on the URL name was a complicated process of hearing from all the stakeholders. Settting up an SSL cert was quite complicated as well.

They wanted a single sign-on (SAML-SSO) for staff so they wouldn’t need passwords. They couldn’t offer this to volunteers accessing the system remotely, so instead set it up so that they could have one click sign-on through their social media accounts such as Facbook, Google, Microsoft, Linkedin or Instagram.

An LMS is a “living system” that evolves all the time.

“Digital Learning Week” with lots of training and presentations to let people know what is happening. Webinars and other events to show its’ appeals.

Invest as much time as you can for buy-in for all stakeholders. Creating a working group that engaged key stakeholders. Use whatever networks you can to continue the communities of practice. Find your superusers, embrace them and lift up their voice. – your chief promoters, eLearning rock stars.

Continued to use their help desk.  Courses range from 20 minutes to 27 months, depending on content and purpose. 27 month a TOEFL certification course for volunteers.