Game-based learning for fluid strategies

As one of the brightest minds of our time said: change is not constant, it is accelerating.

Truly, organizations today are in constant flux. The increasing pace of change requires to understand and quickly respond to constant shifts. And learning is the new currency for changes. Individual, team and organization-level learning are crucial success factors for adapting and innovating in an uncertain world. We need to learn fast and use our learnings to improve, invent and re-invent. For leaders, the increasing pace of change can be especially demanding.

Here are the key words of our reality: flexibility, agility, fluidity, lifelong learning, rapid change, disruption, innovation, inventing, multichannel etc.

Corporate L&D and education in general have undergone significant evolution over the past decades, driven by several factors, like technological changes, globalization, and the evolving needs of organizations and their employees. Today the learning technology landscape is vast and complex, new solutions hit the market almost daily. We have been observing the evolution of learning: transition from paper-based teaching to hyflex (hybrid +flexible) formats and immersive learning technolo­gies.

Context for portrait of a learner today

The learners are overwhelmed and that’s why have become more autonomous and want to make their own choices about their learning. That is why we need some kind of superpower to engage them. At the same time learners are becoming more collaborative and peer2peer oriented.

The image of a river can help us to get better understanding of fluidity.  

This river of learning has several streams:

  • According to PlayStation and Nintendo experience majority of learners have already so called game mentality – it is about the stream  of attempts for getting result
  • Thanks to NETFLIX experience, learners want the stream of scenarios.
  • Social learning represents the stream of counseling and help from buddies 

The river of learning has got not only the streams but also the flow. And indeed the games provide the players with opportunity to enter a flow state in which the player is completely absorbed in an enjoyable experience. 

But let’s move from the streams and flows to the sources.

Game-based learning background

In learning ecosystem games deserve serious consideration. Game-based learning (GBL) has become one of the solutions for soft skills learning, as they increase employee engagement  and improve retention of material. At the core of this method is the concept of experiential learning — learning by doing. Adults learn best through experience and reflection. GBL can be accomplished with digital or non-digital games and may include simulations that can allow adult learners to experience the learning first hand.

In a game-based learning environment, learners acquire new concepts and practice skills in a risk-free setting.  In the learning context of games, making mistakes is not punished, but encouraged, as it boosts the problem-solving skills, the agility when real problems arise and helps employees internalize the learnings derived from their own decisions. Problem solving, proactivity, agility, creativity and strategic thinking are some of the benefits unleashed by a successful implementation of serious games. This leads into lower turnover rates and higher long-term productivity across the organization.

According to our experience GBL has the following useful features:

  • When failure is accepted, self-confidence is boosted.
  • Repetitions and gradual difficulty escalation lead to better mastery of the skills.
  • Adaptability of the method: the flexibility of being able to adapt the game to any level, age and skill set.
  • Increased knowledge retention – when operating in an interactive context, the learner tends to be fascinated and engaged, increasing the odds of retention.
  • Boost of productivity through better brain connection: gaming encourages better brain activity, the brain is positively stimulated when playing games.
  • Higher level of engagement and social skills.

The gameful mindsets

Mindset of game-based learnersis characterized by the following traits:

  • Growth mindset:

Games promote a growth mindset, which is the belief that talent and intelligence are not fixed but can be developed through dedication and efforts.

  • Continuous feedback

 Games provide feedback for every single action the player does. Gamers expect this continuous feedback to learn and plan subsequent action.

  • Embracing failure

 Games provide a safe space in which it’s acceptable to fail in order to learn. Gamers know that “failing forward” is a good thing that allows them to feel secure to experiment, take more risks, and then learn from the experience to constantly iterate to achieve their goals.

  • Inquisitiveness and curiosity

Participants are constantly curious to learn more about the game they are playing and always asking various questions as they proceed through the game. They want to learn more about the game, and the more they learn, the more inquisitive they become to pursue more learning.

  • Just – In -Time Learning / Learning on demand: 

In games, content is presented together with the activity in a just-in-time manner and players are learning as they are playing, not before they play.

New skills of education professionals

Fluidity of learning calls for fluidity of skills of education and L&D practitioners.

In game-based learning educators have to rely on principles of ‘fluid learning’ which: 

  • Is action oriented
  • Uses a hybrid instructional method
  • Is customized to a learner
  • Focuses on critical thinking
  • Requires bite-sized deep human learning
  • Relies on a group/cohort of learners
  • Needs feedback and coaching
  • Is supported by technology  

If a game has a superpower of learners’ engagement, educators would need some magic skills too.

The example of such a specific skill is «easy walking between worlds». Let us share our understanding of it.

Our case

Amidst 2020 pandemic, we rapidly adapted to the digital environment, empowering businesses in the T&D sector and our clients to excel. In our presentation at OEB we will unveil the insider tips and tricks including:

• Blended learning program, using our immersive online environment in simulation achieved an impressive retention rate of 95%;

• Innovated cutting-edge methodologies to conduct comprehensive behavioural assessments online;

• Converted 20 offline business games into engaging online format which outperformed offline settings in group dynamics and learning results.

The year 2022 brought new challenges. The transition back to offline settings introduced a unique set of difficulties, as participants in training programs grew proficient in online formats. We will highlight prime examples, examine potential obstacles, and disclose the mechanics behind successfully guiding an extensive corporate community back to offline engagement.

This is how our L&D path from offline to online and back again (just like the Hobbits did)

demonstrates what hyflex (hybrid +flexible) format is about.

Conclusion and call to create a sequel together

Games are constantly evolving and innovating as technology, research, and practice advance. Being keen researchers and evangelists of global L&D trends, we love to share findings with our colleagues. And we are inviting you to join our mini research on GBL which would help in better understanding of the current and desired state.

In November 2023 we will be presenting our experience of the game-based learning at OEB session.

We believe GBL can be used efficiently both offline and online, in academic and corporate environments and we will present you the results of our research there.

To be continued…

Written for OEB Global 2023 by Andrii Stanchenko.

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