Serious Games Can Promote Healthy Behaviors

Serious Games can Promote Healthy Behaviors

I am helping a game-based learning client work on a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant (thank you for the tip, Anne Derryberry). My thoughts are connected to our Games Can Teach blog’s on-going discussions concerning the definition of game-based learning and the different types of gaming as well as the research needed. To be sure, there have been ample grants to universities for various studies on the aspects of video games and learning which has provided evidence based research to act on. This interest in video games and learning has had an influence on my practice. We recently developed a new version of an ATOD prevention curriculum, which in 2004 used arcade games to reinforce the lecture style slide shows. In the reinvented version, our team embedded the learning within one exploratory game that utilized video game design mechanics to promote higher level thinking on the part of students. Promoting higher level thinking (see Bloom’s Taxonomy) is a key differentiator between edutainment and immersive or serious educational games.

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Moodle Doodle & White Bread

Moodle Doodle & White Bread

I’ve had about a week to settle back in after giving a presentation at Training 2009 on the open source LCMS, Moodle. As I mentioned last week, I had a packed audience but received mixed reviews. We have been utilizing Moodle for over two years for several client projects. The Moodle pedigree stems purely from higher education, so it was not designed for corporate use as a generic LMS. Moodle.org seems to have little interest in adapting to fit the needs of companies that want to train thousands of employees using hundreds of courses (see threaded discussions on the site-wide grouping feature). Nevertheless, there are many specific corporate training initiatives that Moodle is perfect for. Click here for my presentation.

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What Is Good Interactive Writing?

What is Good Interactive Writing?

Tony Karrer asks a great question in his blog post: “What is good writing?” It is really all about context. Although I agree that concise and bullet-pointed writing can be worthwhile in certain contexts, I do believe that teaching fundamentals is the first priority of a K-12 writing curriculum.

This post has prompted me to muse about another important question: What is good interactive writing?Those of us challenged to develop good online learning activities realize that great eLearning starts with good information design and activities that engage learners. To engage a learner’s mind means that we must keep the learner’s attention with teaching activities that are interactive. This means writers must understand web techniques like hot spots, links, branching, dragging, graphic placement and the like. Sometimes it means a full blown simulation or game (See Karl Kapp’s discussion of building Math Games for Middle School Students). Good storytelling still matters, as does an understanding of the Chicago Style Guide.

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Training 2009 Conference Inspirational!

Training 2009 Conference Inspirational!

When you attend a conference you expect the keynote speeches to deliver inspiration. Training Magazine’s conference held this week in Atlanta did not disappoint. In fact I found myself laughing loudly and crying softly while listening to Tuesday’s keynotes.

First a note about economic impact: Yes, attendance was down, especially pre-conference participation. The headline of the Show Daily magazine read: “Game On or Game Over” Oops…double meaning? My article on project managing game and simulation development certainly came out at a pretty inopportune time.

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Managing The ELearning Team During A Recession

Managing the eLearning Team during a Recession

I am in a quick turnaround from speaking at the ASTD TechKnowledge ‘09 workshop and flying today to Atlanta for Training Magazine’s Annual Training 2009 conference for two speaking sessions. I am adjusting my two lectures (Managing eCourse Development, It’s a Team Approach and Moodle Doodle: Building Online Courses Using the Open Source CMS, Moodle) to account for people’s preoccupation with the current economic downturn.

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Laid Off? Think Like An Entrepreneur!

Laid Off? Think like an Entrepreneur!

As an eLearning entrepreneur, I want to address topics centered on managing projects and people. People are most definitely in the news this past week as we hit unemployment levels previously unseen by many in the workforce. I have had several conversations with individuals who have lost their jobs. My advice to them and all those currently employed is to always think like an entrepreneur. Here are my top ten quick tips:

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ASTD TechKnowledge Comments

ASTD TechKnowledge Comments

Did the first eLearning Conference of 2009 suffer the same fate as the consumer electronics show in December? Were the numbers down? I asked the conference administrators several times what the attendance numbers were at the annual TechKnowledge conference held last week at the Las Vegas Rio Convention Center. The answer was repeatedly a suspicious “We don’t know yet.” My favorite part of the conference? Tony Karrer’s keynote speech on day two.

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Definitions: Serious Games & Game Based Learning

Definitions: Serious Games & Game Based Learning

A quick search of Wikipedia finds that we need to do some work documenting and updating the definition of “serious game” and “game-based learning” — at least in Wikipedia. Consider this post a call for “all hands on deck!”

The number of groups, institutions and individuals working on the subject of games and learning is growing. Academia has been studying video games and learning for the better part of two decades. Most academics would agree with Wikipedia’s definition of “serious games.” I also like the cryptic “game-based learning” definition that currently exists in Wikipedia: “Game-based learning is a branch of serious games”. My understanding of a geeky separation factor between the two has been that video games are built with complex “game engines” usually costing millions, while casual games or “edutainment” games have been built in Shockwave, Flash, and Java (to mention a few programming languages) sometimes at no real monetary cost. According to Jim Gee, the commercial video game by its very need to competitively succeed in the marketplace has evolved into a strong pedagogical machine. The video game must be challenging and that requires continuous learning (“keep the gamer at the edge of his/her competency level”). I am personally more interested in “game-based learning” (a definition that needs the most work on Wikipedia) since as a subset of the “serious game,” it generally refers to games built for the purpose of teaching a body of knowledge. The eLearning Guild in its research document, “Immersive Learning Simulations”, attempts to group both games and simulations. The guild audience primarily consists of corporate eLearning employees. Here is a brief listing of what might be included in a Wikipedia definition of “game-based learning” throwing a wide net of potential constituents involved in teaching something using games or simulation, however “casual”:

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