Learning games – some interesting ideas

I’ve written a few different posts on games.  I love games – and i think games help engage people and make learning more fun.

I found a few interesting games today, by chance. I was looking at Mashable, a blog on new medai and social networking, and came across their weekly list of job postings. (Worth skimming just to see the plethora of new jobs available that didn’t exist 10 years ago!). I scrolled through the posts and found several game sites who want developers. I then, naturally, checked these out (and had fun playing some games), and I found one game that I thought could be a great frame for a learning game. (Click the image to go to the game):

It mirrors the old-fashioned puzzle books where you view two pictures and find the things that are different between them. The online version is timed (45 seconds) and you have to find the five items in 45 seconds. If you are running out of time, you can click the jokers you have on the bottom. Each joker removes one of the items you have to find. This helps one what set of images. However, as you get new sets of pictures to compare, you don’t get any additional jokers. When you’ve used your five, the game is over.

The game tests your ability to compare  and contrast two images. How often have you designed instruction where at least one (if not more than one) of the learning objectives was for learners to compare/contrast two things?  I think this game could easily be adapted to suit learning purposes – and be very fun for learners to play. Games such as this can also be “rewards” for completing  a segment of an e-learning program. Example: we just completed a set of e-courses on pressure ulcers for the Department of Health. Adding a game element where nursing assistants compared/contrasted two pressure ulcers – or two patient rooms to spot the possible intervention tools available – could have been fun/engaging/rewarding/useful after they completed a learning module.

I also loved the puzzle game, “Blackbeard’s Island Lite,” but I can’t figure out how to make it applicable to a product launch or software training yet – two e-learning projects we are tackling now. Darn it! I suppose I could show learners a screen and give them 45 seconds to compare two screens and click all the things in Screen 2 that don’t mirror Screen 1. This may be useful if a screen is complex and you want to help learners recall where information is located on a screen. It’s amazing the tension I felt by being timed – and the increasing sense of competitiveness I felt as the clock ticked toward zero.  I liked this…and I think it is somewhat contextual to our jobs. We never have all the time in the world to complete tasks. Most of us feel a sense of urgency or we flat-out have only so much time to get things done.

Another note: Interesting to see the business model these gaming sites are using. You have to watch a commercial (often featuring cool animation or the opportunity for user interacton) before you get to play the free game. This last bit has nothing to do with learning, but it is interesting! If we think about what the advertiser is doing…providing content and incenting the consumer to remember the content by creating an interactive element…then we CAN see some cross-over to the learning design side of things.

I”m interested in what you think of the games I linked you to. Tell me if you liked them – and how you’d use the concept in learning.