Knowledge Guru Players Awarded $1,500 for Charity in Gamification Experiment

Knowledge Guru players earned $1,500 in charitable donations on behalf of BLP.

We have a winner!

After reaching College Hoops Guru status in regular game mode and posting a score of 63,900 in the Grab Bag mode, Kurt Clemenz won our 2013 College Hoops Guru charity competition.

The game was built with our Knowledge Guru game engine. If you haven’t given it a spin yet, check it out!

The prize? A $1,000 donation by BLP to a charity of Kurt’s choice. He asked us to send the check to Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation. They provide help to homeless and disabled vets in Indianapolis. Learn more about HVAF here.

We also held a random drawing for five $100 donations to charity. Anyone who played College Hoops Guru was eligible to win. Those donations went to some great charities:

  • Second Harvest Heartland, St. Paul MN – Learn more
  • The Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence County, IN – Learn more
  • Wheeler Mission Ministries, Indianapolis IN – Learn more
  • Back On My Feet, Indianapolis IN – Learn more
  • Salvation Army, St. Louis MO – Learn more

All of these organizations work to help the hungry, homeless, or poverty-stricken in their communities. Giving Back is at the core of BLP’s company culture and philosophy. By offering $1,500 in charitable donations as prizes for playing Knowledge Guru, we accomplished two of our most important goals as a company:

  1. Educate the learning and development community about the value of game based learning and gamification.
  2. Give back to our local and global community.
Sign up for our newsletter below if you would like to be the first to know about future contests. Congrats to everyone who won!


The Knowledge Guru game engine

Knowledge Guru is a game engine that uses the power of play to help learners learn facts fast. Its research-based – and fully-tested – design ensures your people learn and remember. Its game format lets them have fun doing it.

We created Knowledge Guru as a solution to a problem we’ve seen over and over with our clients: Job related information is not always fun to learn… and it’s even tougher to remember.

You can learn more about Knowledge Guru at one of our upcoming webinars.

How Our Team Produced a Music Video to Build Skills and Give Back

BLP Employees Create an Original Song and Music Video to Support Dayspring Center in Indianapolis


We are never at loss for creative energy at BLP. Even in the midst of client projects and marketing efforts, our talented staff finds ways to pursue artistic endeavors and build their skills in new and exciting ways. As Sharon Boller, president of BLP says, “Giving back is such an important part of our company culture, it’s great when we can blend skill-building for ourselves and our clients with ways we can impact the community where we work and live.”

Today, BLP employee Steve Boller (who is also a singer/songwriter), has released his newest single, “Choose to Hope.” It’s about making the choice to love and give back, even when it isn’t easy. We think you’ll love it.

But it is about more than just the song. Steve is donating 100% of the proceeds from song downloads to Dayspring Center, one of our main charitable partners. The temporary homeless shelter serves families in Indianapolis by providing them the ways and means to lift themselves out of homelessness.

Nick Shelton, Sr. Multimedia Developer at BLP, directed, and produced the greenscreen music video and animated the whole thing using AfterEffects. The final product is amazing, and we think it really showcases our expertise in video as well. In fact, the skills we are showcasing in this project show the incredible potential of AfterEffects and greenscreen video and how they might be used as part of a multimedia learning experience. Believe it or not, the entire video was filmed with our HD video camera in front of a green screen in our office parking lot!

No matter what creative talents and abilities your staff possesses, chances are there are plenty of innovative ways you can leverage them to build more skills within your organization, or even to support your charitable initiatives. While Steve will obviously benefit musically from having such a fantastic video, BLP has also benefited from the opportunity to fine-tune and showcase our video creation skills. It’s exciting to think about how a video of this caliber could be integrated into a higher end learning solution to really drive value and engagement. Does your staff have any talents that you could integrate into your business in innovative ways?

Want to watch the video, hear the song, and give back? Just follow the links:

Watch the video on YouTube:

Download the song and “Pay What You Want” to make a larger donation:

Or, Download the song on iTunes

Brandon’s App of the Week – Make My Own Puzzles

Each week Brandon Penticuff, Bottom-Line Performance’s Director of Technology and admitted app-obsessed iOS user will share an app that he is using that week. Whether it is an app to make you more productive, teach you something, or simply entertain you, we hope that you’ll enjoy learning about them!

This week’s app is “Make My Own Puzzles“, a handy puzzle creation tool from Jeff Lowry. This very easy to use app will let you quickly build simple or complex word search or crossword style puzzles that feature content that you provide!

However, the puzzles that you create aren’t for playing in the app or even on your device. Instead the app provides you with the ability to export your puzzles as PDF, PNG, or JPG images that you can then print out or include as part of other material. You aren’t just restricted to exporting the puzzles either, the app also allows you to generate a version with hints or a full answer key as well. You can specify the grid-size of your puzzles and dictate the order of the content and the directions that your entries are displayed within the puzzle.

Our fantastic learning experts at Bottom-Line Performance have talked in depth about the fundamentals of gamification in learning, and one could argue that traditional puzzles like word search or crossword apply the some of these techniques in a fundamental way that has helped them stay relevant for over 100 years. Do you think your next training event would benefit from using an app like this one to create a customized puzzle with your content?

Care to try your hand at my technology-influenced crossword (hints provided!)? I will gift a copy of the app to the first person that provides the correct answers in the comments, think you can solve it??

Make My Own Puzzles – [.99 (Limited time)] (Universal App)

Follow Brandon on Twitter for more tips and tracks on all things App related. Got an app you want featured? Send him a tweet to have it considered!

College Hoops Guru Winner Announced

With a score of over 1 billion points in the final round, #1 seeded Jefe beat out YingYang215 to win College Hoops Guru. 

We will be in touch with him shortly to see if he prefers the $25 app store gift card or $100 donation to a charity of their choice that battles homelessness!


Learning About College Basketball Just Got Seriously Fun…and Social

College Hoops Guru is now open to play!

In February, we announced a three-part experiment to assess how mobile (at least tablet mobile), social, and gaming can work together to help people learn. We did our first experiment with a game called Gridiron Guru. We created learning objectives, devised questions, and published a game that used repetition over time to help people learn the content. Its goal was to help people master some basics associated with the rules and strategy behind football…just in time for the Superbowl. We got a ton of great feedback, which we’ve incorporated into Part 2 of our Learning Lab.

March: The Concept Gets Refined

For our second game, we’re using the inspiration of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. (Bet you can tell that we employ several sports fans, huh?). Why sports? Because we wanted an experiment that would be broad and accessible. If we immediately dove down into a geeky topic (such as the science of learning), we feared we’d lose people before we ever got them intrigued. Besides, we figured families everywhere have at least one person diving into all the games on TV…a learning game to help the casual fan understand some basketball strategy concepts is both fun and helpful.

This game assumes you already know the basics of basketball – the difference between a center and a shooting guard, for example, and that throwing the ball into the basket gets you points. We’ve designed learning objectives focused on using statistics to do game prep, in-game coaching, and crafting buzzer beater strategies. We once again use repetition and feedback to help you learn.

Don’t’ like basketball? Know nothing about it? You can still play!! This time around, we are using Twitter in a variety of interesting ways to let social learning happen. If you follow theKGuru on Twitter, you will see all kinds of tips, hints, and learning aids to help you with the toughest topics. Don’t be shy… send him a tweet when you get stuck and he will be sure to respond. You can even tweet your progress as you increase your score and earn medals and badges.

This game also has a unique twist that GridIron Guru did not – an escalating level of competition so we can see the effects of competition on involvement and learning. The regular game round opens promptly at 8:30 am on March 20th and ends at 5 pm on Friday, March 23rd…but we’ll be far from finished. That’s when we’ll take the top 16 scores from our regular round of play and “seed” them into a bracket, just like the NCAA tournament. For the next 3 days, you will have a chance to test your skills in our Grab Bag round and try and amass the highest score. You’ll see questions from the earlier rounds as well as some questions on basketball rules and this year’s NCAA tournament. Take a look at our bracket:

College Hoops Guru Sweet 16 Bracket

Don't worry, we've made it super easy to tweet your score and show off your progress.

Get Your Guru On!

At 9 pm EST on Tuesday, March 27th, we’ll end the Grab Bag round and announce our overall winner. If you make it to the top, you will get to choose your prize: a $25 app store gift card OR a $100 donation to the homeless charity of your choice. 

Want to play with us? Click here to sign into College Hoops Guru and be part of our learning lab!

College Hoops Guru

How We Cracked the QR Code

On Tuesday, February 28th, Bottom-Line Performance hosted “Cracking the QR Code,” an interactive scavenger hunt through Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. Yes, they still have a card catalog on the premises.

QR Codes at Central Library

Participants split up into teams of two and three and used QR readers on their smart phones to scan clues all over the library.

We learned that QR codes are a worthwhile training solution for orienting people to a new facility or building. The game-y aspect of the scavenger hunt was great for those who enjoy competition, but might not always be needed. We recommend maintaining a competitive element to a scavenger hunt to engage employees and make it fun.

There are also clearly plenty of situations where QR codes would be the WRONG solution. Any time that getting the QR reader out and scanning a code for information is more effort and trouble than simply retrieving the information another way would have been, it is a safe bet that there was a better option than QR codes.

One advantage to consider: point QR codes to a defined link and then simply change the content on the link as needed. You can share a wider range of content and make your QR codes especially effective by doing this.

We also learned that a time-sensitive scavenger hunt might not encourage participants to really take in their surroundings. If they are too busy trying to rush to the next clue, they may not get all of the benefits from the experience. Nancy Harkness, BLP’s VP of Learning Services, suggested a competition where participants would have to keep track of various things they noticed about their surroundings and the team with the most things would win. This would encourage taking in the surroundings more completely.

All in all, this was a fantastic event and a wonderful opportunity to explore a technology tool’s application in a corporate training environment. Have a look at the slides:

Make it Social: How We Use Twitter as a Learning Tool

Chances are, someone has told you how you should or should not be using Twitter recently.

Did you know that Twitter chats are a fantastic way to share informal knowledge and spark conversation within  your field or even inside your organization? Think about it: You spend all day every day sitting in your office, siloed off from the world of information ebbing and flowing all around you. What if there was a way to tap in to the collective expertise of industry experts and thought leaders, creating synergistic relationships both inside and outside your organization? This is all possible. Best of all, it’s cost-effective and easy to implement.

For the past month, Bottom-Line Performance has been hosting Thursday Tech Talk, a weekly chat on Twitter. Each week, we extend an open call for users to submit articles on emerging trends, gadgets, or tech and we curate three of our favorites to include in our discussion. You can follow along and even join in by following @BLPIndy on Twitter to see the upcoming articles and saving the #TalkTech hashtag as a search. Here’s a transcript from our chat on Thursday, 2/16:

A few tips to get you started:

-Pick a hashtag that is short yet memorable and unique: We started our Twitter chat using the hashtag #T3 and have since changed it to #TalkTech. Since Twitter limits the number of characters per tweet to 140, we thought using a short hashtag would enhance people’s experience by allowing them to fit more in to one tweet. However, we quickly realized that having a hashtag that is unique and specific to your talk is important. The stream for #T3 was always cluttered with spam and errant conversations we did not want to view. #TalkTech has been much more successful thus far.

-Brevity is the soul of wit…and good conversation: New Twitter users sometimes balk at the 140 character limit per tweet. “How will I get my point across?” Rather than being a deterrant, we’ve found that the 140 character clause actually helps participants be more concise and form their thoughts better.

Embrace different consumption preferences: Some of our BLPers are digital natives who find it easy to rapid-fire Tweets on any topic (I fit in to this heap). However, others prefer to receive and process information at a more controlled rate. We recommend using a service like Storify to gather the conversation and preserve a record of it for easy viewing. Users who prefer to interact with Twitter at a slower pace will still benefit from the conversation by reading it later and may even become more comfortable with the medium in time. Making a transcript of your chat available after the fact will greatly enhance its value. 

-It takes time to build participation: We have been encouraging BLP employees who do not normally use Twitter to hop on and try participating in #TalkTech. It has taken some time for those not used to taking part in this medium of communication to get used to sharing thoughts in this format, but we have seen great improvement from the first week.

-Twitter isn’t perfect: The platform itself has some limitations that are worth noting: Tweets do not always load immediately when you are monitoring a keyword and the stream of commentary can become confusing for some. Remember that the added value of Twitter versus a closed off chat room is the openness of the platform itself: every Tweet being shared can be searched and viewed by anyone on Twitter, any time. There is always an opportunity for someone unexpected to chime in with a new insight. Sharing your thoughts and expertise in such a way is also a great way to improve the credibility of your organization on a chosen topic.

Our experiences with #TalkTech have been all-together encouraging and we plan to continue our weekly chats. We’ll keep posting the Storify summaries once a week on this blog.

I would encourage any organization still standing on the side of the pool dipping their toes in and grimacing a bit to take the plunge in to social media and try hosting a Twitter chat of your own. You can also try participating in one of many Twitter chats already going on. Just search for what you are looking for, and odds are you will find it!

Learning Lab Part 1 Wrap-up: 5 Social Learning Lessons

Well, that was fun.

The last of the celebrities and East Coast football fans have left Indianapolis, and what a party it was! It was hard not to get caught up in the “Big Game” buzz last week. Football was on everyone’s brain, and we are so happy to have been able to share Gridiron Guru with you. This was part 1 of our m+s+g=l? learning lab experiment.

Our sign-ups were modest, but we had players from all over the world take part. The top score achieved topic mastery of all four paths AND amassed a Grab Bag score of 126,000,000. Talk about self-directed learning!

Part of social learning is that the “teacher” learns too. Unlike the bearded character in our game, we are NOT Gurus who have achieved mastery. We know what we are good at and love using our expertise, but there is always more to learn. And boy, did we learn a ton from putting this game together! Here are 5 take-aways for you to consider as you begin looking at ways to “gamify” your training and create opportunities for informal, non-traditional learning on mobile platforms.

1. Respond to results in real time. Social learning platforms enable facilitators to respond to the needs of learners in a more immediate, direct fashion. The admin side of the game engine we created for this (KnowledgeGuru)  has a robust set of reports that allow us to see what learning objectives and questions were the hardest. Here is a quick view at part of a learning objectives report:

While most of our objectives received a high response percentage, a few dipped below what we considered an acceptable baseline level. Social media allowed us to respond in real time. We created short, concise learning aids and shared them as PDFs via Scribd. The learning aids were sent out via Twitter so that game participants could view them. You can view one of ur learning aids HERE. We also tweeted hints and tips for the questions with a low correct response rate.

2. “Social” Integration Must  be Seamless. Even if you are designing a learning experience for a corporate environment, it is important to integrate social sharing functions seamlessly. While we encouraged participants to follow theKGuru on Twitter to receive game tips and updates, the beta version of our game did not have The Knowledge Guru Twitter feed embedded in the interface. Learning aids must be easy to find and accessible for learners to take advantage.

3. Merge Gamification With Social Platforms. One of our favorite features of Knowledge Guru is the ability for users to track their progress by region and globally on the leaderboards. A little competition never hurt anyone! But a learning solution that claims to integrate social must do so in more ways than one. We are adding a “Tweet my score” feature to various stages of the game for the next phase of our Learning Lab. We will also integrate the Twitter stream within the game so players can see tweets from within the game itself.

4. Social Learning demands individual engagement. With no one looking over your shoulder, who will motivate you to complete training that is designed to be “informal” and “social” in nature? Of course, the training itself must be fun and engaging enough to keep you hooked in, but we still think external objectives are important. Since no one was making our learners play Gridiron Guru and they did not need to know the material for their jobs or a project, we noticed participation faltered in the later rounds. Since the Knowledge Guru game is primarily an engine for “on-the-job training” and gamified delivery of required knowledge, it lacks the bells and whistles to compete with a game like Temple Run or Angry Birds on pure fun factor and dopamine release. If participation is not mandatory, your “gamified learning experience” must compete against every other potential distraction on the web! Even if participation is mandatory, make the experience as compelling as possible. We plan to focus on our most compelling question sets to make our next game even more enjoyable to play.

5. Manage learner expectations from the outset. As we said, this is no Temple Run or Angry Birds…but Knowledge Guru is trying to get you to REMEMBER information long after you play the game. The instructional design behind it deliberately uses repetition and the concept of spaced learning over time. Each topic contains three paths that you must complete to reach mastery. Each question contains three iterations – spaced across the three paths. You will see content multiple times. If you miss a question, you get immediate feedback. When you re-start after a miss, you get the question you missed as your first one. When you “unlock” the grab bag (which is where you can get REALLY high scores), you get a randomized selection of all the questions in the game…spaced learning over time since you can’t knock it until you’ve done all the topics. All this is really good instructionally…but really bad if the learner doesn’t understand what’s going on and buy into it.

Needless to say, we’ve learned a whole lot from this experience. We’re e making tweaks to the game and creating a whole new set of questions for phase two of our learning lab, College Hoops Guru, coming in (you guessed it) in mid-March. We have also gotten a lot of ideas for phase three of the game, which will be 100% twitter-based and not rely on a game engine at all.

As for our winner? He asked to donate his $25 prize to the Dayspring Center, a temporary homeless shelter in Indianapolis. While he has requested to remain anonymous, you can go check his score out on the Leaderboard.





Is Social Learning Super? Gridiron Guru Launches Today!

Last week, we announced our new social learning lab and invited you to participate. Gridiron Guru is a social learning game playable on the iPad as a web app or from your desktop. It tests your football knowledge across four categories: rules, offense, defense, and game strategy. There are global leaderboards for you to track your progress against other players and plenty of social media activity going on via @TheKGuru Twitter account.

The game is live today! Head over to to start playing. We’ve decided to make one small change: The top three scores will be entered into a drawing to win the $25 app store gift card.

What are you waiting for? Let the social learning begin.

4 Ways to Make Synchronous eLearning Dazzling

We’ll be back in the near future with more on our short series of social media tips. For now, let’s talk about synchronous eLearning.

Synchronous eLearning (Distance Learning) was a hot topic at 2011’s DevLearn conference. Today, I want to talk about how to actually design synchronous e-learning courses. There are many elements of course design that need to be taken into consideration for synchronous e-learning. However, here are just a few questions to consider:

1. Technology

  • Is there someone who can act as a “host” on the session and manage technical issues and questions?
  • Is the technology that we’re using stable and robust enough to allow for interaction?
  • Is the technology intuitive enough that it is a help and not a distraction to facilitators or participants?

2. Facilitators

  • Are the facilitators comfortable using the technology?
  • Can the facilitators offer feedback to participants on activities in real time?
  • Are facilitators willing to take the additional time needed to practice and prepare for a synchronous e-learning course?
  • Do facilitators have clear instructions on how to facilitate the activity? Below is an example of a duel facilitator guide we created for a client recently. In this situation, the course will be taught both face to face and online. Facilitators make the choice on how to facilitate based on their situation.

3. Participants 

  • Have participants been given enough time to practice using the technology?
  • Are participants given opportunities to interact with each other, not just with the facilitator?

4. Content

  • Have I avoided the temptation to make synchronous e-Learning more about lecture than exploration? While it can seem “easier” to take this route, in reality synchronous e-learning requires MORE interaction and opportunities to ensure that participants are engaged.
  • Is the course chunked into management bites? As much as possible, shorter modules are preferable in synchronous e-learning to avoid the dreaded multitasking of participants!
  • Is the course designer/writer familiar with the technology? Has she/he ensured that what is written is actually feasible?

What do you think of my list? What’s missing that you always consider when developing synchronous e-learning?