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More Than Fun and Games
Learning leaders are broadening their development techniques to include game-type activities in both instructor-led and virtual settings to boost engagement and make learning stick.
“Pong,” one of the earliest arcade video games in the 1970s, has been eclipsed by online, multi-user simulations where people compete or work together to reach a common goal. Consumer game systems such as the Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation 3 allow thousands of competitors to interact in virtual environments simultaneously. As more people, corporate employees included, play on such consoles for entertainment, they are becoming more comfortable with them at work. With this in mind, learning leaders are broadening their development techniques to include game-type activities in both instructor-led and virtual settings to boost engagement and make learning stick.
Games are immersive, engaging, provide instantaneous feedback on learner actions and encourage repetitive practice of techniques. Well-designed games combine content knowledge with critical skills, such as identifying and solving problems, and are not necessarily dependent on virtual interactions. Some organizations are using their physical training environments to engage teams in competitive gaming and simulations.
“We are continually looking at ways to take advantage of emerging technologies so that the classroom learning experience is highly interactive and experiential,” said Cheryl Tidwell, director of sales administration and learning at Humana. “Simulations help us expand our ability to appeal to different learning styles. As we are aware, people learn in very different ways. These technologies drive the learning for some in ways we would not be able to with a traditional learning environment.”
In Humana’s Winning Major program, teams of five salespeople act collectively as a salesperson for a robotics company. They handle three clients over three virtual years in three rounds of computer-based simulations held in a physical classroom. The objective is to understand the customer’s business and build relationships higher and wider in each account. The team with the highest cumulative revenue wins.
“They are free to experiment and try new techniques and approaches without fear of hurting bottom-line results or feeling foolish, and they apply the feedback instantly,” said Lori Wohlgemuth, manager of learning at Humana. “Yet because the simulations are completed in a team environment, they become very competitive. This competitive element adds a bit of tension, which appropriately stretches our sales associates out of their comfort zone, resulting in a more robust learning experience.”
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