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Karl Kapp’s New Gamification Fieldbook for Learning Professionals

fieldbook cover

I was a regular on the L&D conference circuit in 2013, starting at DevLearn in October 2012 (when I first met Karl Kapp) and continuing onwards to DevLearn 2013. Besides professional development for our team, we attended these conferences to bring Knowledge Guru, the first learning game engine tied to research-based learning principles, to market.

Let me tell you that there is marked difference in the talk surrounding game-based learning and gamification now compared to a year ago. Late 2012 and early 2013 were about research and theory. Where do we start? Will games work in my organization? Why should we use them?

Now, the conversation has changed. Most organizations know games work. The research is there, a great deal of it referenced in Karl’s popular book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. Games and gamification are starting to become an accepted part of the L&D toolkit, and more and more real case studies are emerging of how real organizations are using games today.

So while the talk at the beginning of the year was more high level, we are now seeing a shift from theory to practice. That’s where Dr. Kapp’s newest book comes in.

The Gamification of Learning Instruction Fieldbook is the perfect follow-up to Kapp’s recent bestseller. The book moves beyond the research and offers trainers the practical guidelines they really need to implement games in their organization. It includes plenty of case studies for how games are used today, including a chapter written by BLP president Sharon Boller.

And while we’re happy to have Knowledge Guru included in the book as an example of game-based learning done right, we’re even more excited to see so many other great case studies of game-based learning success. It’s a positive sign for our industry as a whole.

Buy the Book Here

Learning Game Design and Gamification Professional Development Opportunities

Did you know the best way to design a digital game is to start with a paper prototype?

Or that the ADDIE model for designing learning solutions doesn’t work so well with games? You should use an agile approach instead.

Here’s one for the Directors and Managers reading this: did you know that your Learning Designers may not have the skill set to start designing effective instructional games, even if they are great at creating eLearning and ILT? corporate learning games - playtesting

Getting Started in Learning Game Design

We’ve said it before and I’m sure we’ll say it again: game design is a unique skill set. Creating instructional games, where the game mechanics actively encourage and support learning, is not a skill that comes overnight. If you want your instructional games to do more than award points and badges, you’re going to have to study game design… and invest some time (and maybe money) in professional development. If you try to design a learning game without proper study and practice, you’re vulnerable to a few common mistakes:

  • Game mechanics that fail to support, or even detract, from the learning: Sharon Boller referenced an early mechanic of timed responses we tested with Knowledge Guru in a recent blog post; since the goal of Knowledge Guru is not to answer questions quickly but to answer them correctly, adding a timed element into the game took away from the learning and stressed players out.
  • Games that are too simple: Players will get bored quickly if a game is too linear. The design of a “Click Next” course is not going to translate well to an instructional game.
  • Games that rely on blind luck: In a learning game, the decisions a player makes should directly affect their success in a game. The players should not feel their success hinges on a random drawing or roll of the dice.
It takes practice to avoid making mistakes like these… but your investment of time and focus will pay off. Experienced designers eventually learn how to link game mechanics to the desired learning experience. That’s when games really show their value for learning.

Professional Development Opportunities for Learning Designers

Let us help. Whether you just want some free information to guide your own learning, a day-long workshop experience that gives you a repeatable process you can use to practice designing games, or a tool you can use to create games easily without worrying so much about the design, we have something for you.

We’ve been growing our game design skill set over the past couple of years through peer groups, conferences, designing our Knowledge Guru game engine and custom game development for clients. Now, we have two great opportunities to share some of that knowledge with you. One of them is even free.

Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games

Play to Learn - Designing Effective Learning GamesSharon Boller, creator of Knowledge Guru® and President of BLP, partners with Karl Kapp, Ed.D, to lead this all-day workshop. We walk through the research and case studies that support the efficacy of games, evaluate digital games and board games to generate ideas, then break into groups and go through the process of creating paper prototypes and play testing. You’ll leave with a 5-step roadmap you can use again and again on game design projects.

Sharon and Karl have gave this workshop at ASTD ICE in May 2013… and it quickly sold out. This session, held in downtown Indianapolis, will be the most cost-effective ways to attend the workshop. The best part about this workshop? You get to prototype your own game… and test the prototypes of others. Have a look at some of the prototypes past participants created:

[camera slideshow=”play-to-learn-game-examples”]

Karl Kapp and Sharon Boller

The Details:

  • August 28th, 2013
  • 8:15 am – 4:15 pm
  • Held at ExactTarget in downtown Indianapolis
  • 20 N. Meridian St, Indianapolis IN46204
  • Cost of $459 includes a copy of Karl’s book, “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction”

Eventbrite - Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games

A Primer On Play: How to Use Games for Learning

Not ready to commit to an all-day workshop? We’ve been offering our free webinar on game-based learning basics for 6 months now. Several hundred people have attended… and the webinar shows you the basics of getting started in game design. You’ll learn how the power of feedback loops and linking game mechanics and learning elements can help you combat the forgetting curve.

May 11 am webinar - Register Now

You can also register here.

Just a Starting Point

Designing an effective learning game is not a tasks you can complete in a single afternoon. You’re not going to learn pick up all of the skills you need in a one hour webinar, or even in an all-day session. We like to think our offerings are great for kick-starting your game-based learning knowledge, but they are definitely just the starting point of your learning. The hard work is the practice.

What we can do is teach you how to practice and give you the tools to continue your own learning. In our sessions, we share the research and case studies we have found valuable in the field of instructional game design, and give you the tools you’ll need to teach others in your organization that games are a good idea.

Keep in mind that neither Karl Kapp or Sharon Boller started out as game designers. In a recent interview, they both shared how they began their careers in instructional design, saw the power and value of games early in their careers, and started incorporating games and immersive experiences into the solutions they developed.

Even if you and your team of instructional designers are new to game design, you should not be discouraged. Many people have added real game design skills to their toolkit, and you can too.

 

Interview With Sharon Boller on Games and Learning


I conducted the same interview with Dr. Karl Kapp, Ed.D, author of The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. Karl is one of the foremost thought leader in the game based learning space. Read his interview here.


Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games

We recently shared an interview with Dr. Karl Kapp, Ed.D, on games and learning. The same questions were posed to Sharon Boller, President of BLP. I look up to both of these individuals for the work they have done in the learning games space, and their responses should serve as inspiration for anyone looking to design learning games of their own.

After a sold-out pre-conference workshop at ASTD ICE in Dallas, Karl Kapp and Sharon Boller have decided to host their learning game design workshop again. This time, the all-day event will be held in Indianapolis on August 28th in Indianapolis, IN.

Sharon’s answers are below, and Karl’s are available in Part One.


Sharon BollerSharon Boller is president of Bottom-Line Performance, Inc. (BLP), a learning solutions firm she founded in 1995. Sharon has grown BLP from a single-woman sole proprietorship that employed 1 to a $2M company employing 20 team members. Sharon is also the creator of the Knowledge Guru™ brand affiliated with BLP that focuses on game-based learning. She is the lead game designer for its inaugural product, known as Guru Classic, and she is leading the development of a second, more robust offering known as Guru Game Builder that will allow users to create multi-level learning games. Sharon frequently speaks on game-based learning and learning design topics at the local and international level. She authored one of the chapters in Karl Kapp’s forthcoming book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Field Book. In addition, she’s authored numerous white papers on the topics of learning game design and learning trends. She also has a book, published by ASTD Press, Teamwork Training, which reflects her love of experiential approaches to developing teamwork skills as well as her own experience growing and developing the virtual team that is BLP.


Divider for Game Interview How did you get started in instructional design?

My undergrad degree is radio/TV. I got hired by an Indiana agency to produce a new employee orientation video. They hired me in as a “Training Associate IV” position. I never did another video while there but I did get started designing training programs – without knowing anything about it formally. I started reading up on this concept called “instructional design” and got hooked. I enrolled at Indiana University in the Instructional Systems Technology program and got my master’s degree. While pursuing my degree, I got a job working as an instructional designer for a consulting firm, eventually ending up as VP of Instructional Design. I left that job to start Bottom-Line Performance in 1995… and I’ve been designing learning solutions since then.

Divider for Game Interview When did you start playing games… and when did you make the connection that games were powerful learning tools?

I’ve loved games since I was a kid. I’m old enough to precede LOTS of technologies so my early game memories are all board games, physical games, and card games– Aggravation, Clue, Monopoly, Canasta, Euchre, Sardines, Freeze Tag, Marco Polo, etc. My siblings and I played games all the time because we didn’t have other things competing for our free time. It could all be spent playing games. When I got into high school, I worked in the toys/sporting goods department of Sears, which happily coincided with the introduction of Atari, the first gaming system I can recall. I loved PacMan, DonkeyKong, Asteroids, etc. Now – with an iPad and a SmartPhone, the games are literally right in my hands.

As for using them as learning tools, as soon as I started doing instructional design, I started using games. Obviously, my skills here ALSO preceded technology so I was creating table-top games and simulations first. Once eLearing gained popularity, digital games became possible. My first-ever original learning game was a review game where the original concept came from an internet search and I then exploded it out. I could quickly see that whenever a game got introduced into a workshop, the interest and engagement level went WAY up. People do not want to be talked to, they don’t want to read… they want to DO. Games let people do. I created my first simulation in the late 1990s. Again, I saw that 1) People’s interest levels were high throughout the simulation 2) They got far more “ah-ha” moments and true learning moments when they could experience something instead of someone simply telling them, “This is what happens when you do X.”

Divider for Game Interview What specific studies or anecdotal stories, to you, make the strongest case for game-based learning efficacy?

On an anecdotal level, I like showing pictures of people’s faces and body language when they are immersed in a learning game. I then ask, “Do your employees ever look like this when they are taking an eLearing course or attending a PPT-based “training” session?” For specific, hard-core studies, I like Rick Blunt’s study because it features a control group.

Divider for Game Interview What are some of the biggest mistakes you see newbie learning game designers make, and how can they avoid them?

Uhm….I”m still making mistakes, which is what ample play testing is for… seeing unintended consequences. The two biggest mistakes I see? Underestimating (by a lot) the thought and time that coming up with good scoring requires. People simply don’t think about the ramifications of scoring – which is a huge source of feedback. The second mistake I see is lack of clarity on the game goal – being unable to distill the game down to a single statement of what it takes to win the game – which may be different than your learning goal.

Divider for Game Interview What tips do you have for individuals just getting started with learning game design?

I bet Karl and I say the same thing on this one: 1) Don’t try to design a learning game if you don’t like playing games yourself. 2) Play lots of games first and evaluate what makes them “fun.” More on that in my recent blog post.

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What’s your favorite part of playing, designing, studying, and speaking on games for a living?

Everything. I just really like games and I like thinking about how to design them. I also really enjoy helping OTHER people design a game for themselves and realizing they can do it.

Space is limited for Play to Learn. Read the event description or click the link below to register.Eventbrite - Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games

Interview With Karl Kapp on Games and Learning

I conducted the same interview with Sharon Boller, President of BLP. She is the lead designer of the Knowledge Guru® game engine and designs learning games for many of our clients. Read the interview here.


Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games

After a sold-out pre-conference workshop at ASTD ICE in Dallas, Karl Kapp and Sharon Boller have decided to host their learning game design workshop again. This time, the all-day event will be held in Indianapolis on August 28th in Indianapolis, IN.

Attendees will have the opportunity to design their own learning game at the workshop with the assistance of Kapp and Boller… two of the leaders in the learning game space.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Karl and Sharon about their backgrounds in learning game design, the reasons behind their passion for games and the research and evidence they find most essential to proving why games link to learning.

Karl’s answers are below, and I will share Sharon’s responses in part two.


Karl KappKarl M. Kapp, Ed.D., is a scholar, writer and expert on the convergence of learning, technology and business operations. Karl is a professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. He teaches graduate level courses including Learning in 3D and Instructional Game Design. Karl also serves as Assistant Director of Bloomsburg University’s acclaimed Institute for Interactive Technologies (IIT). In that role, Karl helps government, corporate and non-profit organizations leverage learning technologies to positively impact employee productivity and organizational profitability through the effective use of learning. Karl has written five books including Learning in 3D and Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning and The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. His work has been featured in Jeannie Novak’s popular Game Development Essentials series. Karl blogs at the popular Kapp Notes website. Visit him at www.karlkapp.com.


How did you get started in instructional design?

Karl: Well, it started with a sixth grade crush. A girl I liked had taken acting lessons at a local theatre so I decided to take acting lessons as well. Then one day a company came to the theatre because they were looking for kids to act in a safety video about crossing the street, the girl whom I fancied volunteered to act in a safety video and, of course, so did I.

After I graduated from college with a teaching certificate, an English degree and several courses in psychology, I was looking for a job before heading to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh for a program in educational counseling. Someone mentioned that a local company did something with writing, psychology and teaching and that I should check it out. It turns out the company was the same one that created the safety video. When I applied for the job I said, “Hey, I’ve worked here before?” and they were a bit confused until I told them I was one of the “child actors” in the safety video. They hired me and after working there for a few weeks, I discovered what Instructional Design was all about. I was immediately hooked. So I spent the summer changing my graduate program form educational counseling to instructional technology. It was the best move. I discovered a field that used all my talents from standing up in front of people and speaking to teaching to writing to psychology. It was and is a great field and I really love it.

I thought it was the most fascinating thing to systematically design instruction to impact learners and behavior, and to actually help people learn things in a variety of environments. There was a systematic way to do that. That really attracted me to the field. Once I had my masters, I got a job at a software company as the one-person training department, and I realized, “Oh, I need to know more.” Then I went on and got my doctor of education from the University of Pittsburgh. So my short acting stint in sixth grade literally changed my life and led me to this field.

Divider for Game Interview

When did you start playing games… and when did you make the connection that games were powerful learning tools?

Karl: I have been playing games all my life. From card games and board games in my earliest days to playing on the Atari 2600 to handheld Coleco Games (football was my favorite) to the Super Nintendo Entertainment system to the console and online games of today like the Uncharted series for the Playstation III and games on my iPhone like Temple Run.

I first noticed that games could play a role in corporate learning on my first internship out of college. It was the summer of 1989. I was working for the instructional design company I mentioned earlier and one of the employees was working on a radical idea of a paper-based game to teach people negotiation skills. He needed some people to test the game and I volunteered. As we were playing the game, I realized how impactful it was in terms of helping me to understand the negotiation skills he was trying to teach, in terms of my being comfortable applying those skills and in terms of gaining a perspective about negotiation skills that I did not have before. From that moment forward, I was convinced that instructional games could be invaluable within a corporate setting.

At that company, I was involved in some small scale efforts after that time. Then I began to study them more in-depth in the late 1990s and early 2000’s and wrote about using games for instruction within corporate environments in my 2007 book, Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning. After that book was published, I was also able to help design some corporate games and see the impact they had within organizations and see how to apply game-elements as a new method of designing instruction within the corporate environment but up until just a few years ago, games were not seen as something appropriate for corporate settings. There is still some stigma remaining but it seems to be subsiding now that people are beginning to understand the interactive nature of games and how game elements such as challenge, story, interactivity and feedback encourage learning.

Then, I was fortunate enough to become a member of a team developing a game to teach middle school children science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. In that project I helped design a full scale educational game which provided me with a wealth of insights into the design of games for learning. I continued my research and work into games and gamification and I needed a place to capture all my thoughts so I wrote them down and captured them in a file that eventually became my latest book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction.

Divider for Game Interview

What specific studies or anecdotal stories, to you, make the strongest case for game-based learning efficacy?

Karl: Well, the one thing that really excites me about the field for game-based learning is that there are a number of meta-analysis studies (study of studies) that points to the fact that games are effective for helping people to learn. We now have peer-reviewed empirical research that shows positive learning impacts and behavioral impacts from games. To me, it is exciting that we now have evidence showing games do, in fact, teach.

Another area of research that is fascinating to me is that the research is now looking into what individual attributes of games make them effective for learning. So, we are moving away from studies that compare game-based learning to classroom instruction and are now looking at what attributes (i.e. story, freedom to fail, fantasy, etc.) make a game compelling from a learning standpoint. I think that is a great line of research.

In terms of examples, I have personally seen people playing games in a corporate setting and discovering concepts, ideas and approaches that they had never before grasped. I’ve seen this with board games, I’ve seen it with online games as well. Now, it requires debriefing and setting expectations by the instructor but when it happens, it can be highly impactful.

Divider for Game Interview

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see newbie learning game designers make, and how can they avoid them?

Karl: I consistently see three big mistakes. The first is that the newer designers tend to want to create a game that teaches “everything.” They want a game to teach the entire sales cycle or the entire product life cycle. When designing a game for the first time, keep it to one or two main objectives that you want to teach. A game can be simple but effective and the less complicated the learning goals are for the game, the easier it is to design and develop. This doesn’t mean the game is simplistic, getting across a couple of really compelling ideas can be difficulty to design but not as difficult as trying to convey a dozen compelling ideas so keep it to one or two learning objectives to start.

Second, don’t think game design is easy. Just because it is fun and easy to play most games doesn’t mean it’s easy to design a game that is instructional. It is hard. There is no “cook book” for designing games, it is more craft than science. Be prepared, especially for the first time, to work and rework your game. Make a paper prototype, then use a slide deck to mimic the game and then decide to program it for online play. Take your time. If it was easy, everyone would have a game to teach everything but… it’s not easy.

Losing site of the learning objectives is the third issue I see. The most important element in a learning game is that learning has occurred. If learning doesn’t occur, re-think the game. Sometimes organizations become so caught up in the game creation and even implementation that they lose site of the learning goals. Always keep learning goals in mind.

Divider for Game Interview
What tips do you have for individuals just getting started with learning game design?

Karl: My biggest tip is to play games! Well, play them with purpose. The idea is to become a critical consumer of games. Look for what works, what are the game dynamics and think about why a game designer chose to do X instead of Y. One cannot develop a game unless they are experienced with games. You cannot be a good elearning developer without having ever taken an elearning course. One cannot be an instructional game designer without ever having played games and especially instructional games. Additionally, read up on the topic and learn as much as you can from the examples and experiences that others have had. Designing an instructional game might be new to you but plenty of people have been doing it for a long time so learn from others.

Divider for Game Interview

What’s your favorite part of playing, designing, studying, and speaking on games for a living?

Karl: Hmm, my favorite part… I enjoy so many elements of games and helping others understand the value of games. I always jokingly say the favorite part is to be able to purchase video games and write them off as a business expense. But really, it is when people realize learning doesn’t have to be boring, it doesn’t have to be a chore, learning can, indeed, be fun and engaging.

Space is limited for Play to Learn. Read the event description or click the link below to register.Eventbrite - Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games

Karl Kapp, Sharon Boller Partner for Learning Game Design Workshop

Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games

Learning and Development professionals have been hearing about learning games and game based learning over and over again for a few years now. Game based instructional techniques are growing in popularity, yet many instructional designers lack the skill set to design game based learning. They have not done it before, so they lack clear direction and do not know where to start.

That’s why Sharon Boller, President of BLP, is partnering with Karl Kapp to facilitate Play to Learn, Designing Effective Learning Games. Karl is a professor at Bloomsburg University and his book The Gamification of Learning and Instruction is one of the most highly regarded resources in the field. Karl’s academic background blends well with Sharon’s experiences of implementing game based learning solutions with BLP’s clients.

Game Based Learning Design Skills in High Demand

Game Based Learning is regularly included in today’s corporate training programs… and the demand for learning designers with a game based learning skillset is growing fast. We’ve known this shift is happening, but the growth became even more obvious when the Play to Learn session we are hosting for ASTD ICE quickly reached capacity. We’ve seen attendance rise rapidly for our free game based learning webinar series, too… but it is tough to build a skillset in a one hour online session. The web is full of introductory knowledge, but game based learning design is a skill that takes practice and coaching.

REGISTER FOR THE WORKSHOP

Register for Play to Learn: Designing Effective Learning Games

Our Approach to Game Based Learning Design

If you want to design game based learning, you need to play lots of games. If you want your game based learning to be good, you need to be able to mock up a quick and dirty prototype and play test the heck out of it fast. Find problems, refine, and try try again. You’ll do all of that and more in this workshop. The Play to Learn workshop helps you learn the following:

  • A six-step process to design a learning game and create a paper prototype.
  • How to use a play testing process to do rapid iteration of a game design.
  • How to consider various core dynamics and tweak game mechanics to improve the playability and learning efficacy of a game.
  • How to sell games to an organization’s stakeholders as an effective option, answering the question “why games?”. All the game design skills in the world can’t help you unless you know how to convince your organization to buy in.
The workshop agenda is intentionally balanced between foundational information and hands-on practice. You’ll play games… then talk about the game elements you saw and discuss how they link to learning. You’ll learn the lingo of game design and learning game design… then play cooperative and competitive games and discuss what situations each one is best for. You’ll create a learning game prototype of your own… then play test the prototypes of others and discuss findings with the group. And yes, you will leave with the latest game based learning research in tow that you can take back to stakeholders in your organization. All with the help of Karl Kapp and Sharon Boller – two leaders in the field.

More on sharon Boller and Karl Kapp:

Sharon Boller: Karl Kapp:
Sharon BollerSharon Boller is president of Bottom-Line Performance, Inc. (BLP), a learning solutions firm she founded in 1995. Sharon has grown BLP from a single-woman sole proprietorship that employed 1 to a $2M company employing 20 team members. Sharon is also the creator of the Knowledge Guru™ brand affiliated with BLP that focuses on game-based learning. She is the lead game designer for its inaugural product, known as Guru Classic, and she is leading the development of a second, more robust offering known as Guru Game Builder that will allow users to create multi-level learning games. Read full bio Karl KappKarl M. Kapp, Ed.D., is a scholar, writer and expert on the convergence of learning, technology and business operations. Karl is a professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. He teaches graduate level courses including Learning in 3D and Instructional Game Design. Karl has written five books including Learning in 3D and Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning and The Gamification of Learning and InstructionRead full bio

Event Location

ExactTarget logo

The workshop will be held at ExactTarget in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. ExactTarget is a client of ours that is frequently on the forefront of using game based learning and gamification for training. We are thrilled to have them as an event sponsor… and even more thrilled that out of town attendees will be able to stay right in downtown Indy.

SPECIAL PRICING

If you want to come to the workshop, you should register soon. Register by June 30th with the promo code EARLYBIRD13 to receive $50 off! We also have special pricing for current BLP clients. Get in touch with someone at BLP to find out more about client pricing.