Crossroads: where do we go from here?
January 27, 2011 3 Comments
Yesterday we posted a summary of Bob Becker’s anecdotal white paper around games for business training and why they are a ‘no brainer’. Also the recent Learning Without Frontiers conference in London showcased a range of commercial games that are being used in schools across the country, and has proved of interest to quite a few of you out there. From looking at the stats on our blog what seems to be most popular amongst our readers are real world examples of games being used in both the corporate world and education sectors. So we thought we would follow up with a four part series highlighting a few of our experiences both in corporate training and education.
The series will be broken into 2 tranches; part 1 and 2 focusing on corporate training and 3 and 4 on education. The first part of each will review our experiences and reactions to serious games over the years, and the follow up will provide examples of how games have used, successfully and unsuccessful in each sector.
Part 1: Game Changer
Ten applicants to every one vacancy, unemployment at its highest since 1997, these are the stark results of the recession that has hit the UK. It hasn’t been easy for the private sector; with public spending cuts and promises that the private sector will pick up the slack, the question on everyone’s lips is where will the growth come from? Many companies are keeping a watchful eye on their spending and see cuts to the training budget as a necessity. However, cutting training may only help to dig us deeper into recession. According to research carried in out in late 2010 by The Charter Management Institute (CMI) 43% of managers have expected their training budgets to be cut this year (2011) leading to an emphasis of ‘training on a shoe string budget’ potentially resulting in critical skills shortages.
Rather than cut, cut, cut, we should be looking to make our budgets work harder. The economy needs a skilled workforce, but one that wont cost the earth to build and maintain. We need to search out training that does not require days away from the office, where the enhancement of existing skills, the ability to learn new skills and the chance to put these skills into practice is central. Training that provides the prospect of leading to career progression or for the unemployed the opportunity of successfully landing a new job.
In a survey of 2,000 UK workers by CMI, 35% would rather go online when looking to brush up on their skills.
The workforce is changing and training needs to pick up its bootstraps and change too. The eLearning industry has continued to grow at a great pace during the recession; the effective use of various new learning technologies, rapid production schedules and lower cost has aided its growth. According to the CIPD 85% of organisations are using some kind of eLearning solution, within this 85% approximately 27% are planning to, or are currently, using Serious Games for training.
Serious Games have been around for quite a few years now, but only recently have they begun to gain momentum as an effective source of educating and training professionals and students.
But how do serious games fit into a corporate environment?
It would be fair to say it has taken time for the word ‘game’ to be accepted in a handful of corporate environments, there is less wincing these days when you mention the G word. However many organisations are still uneasy when it comes to relating training to ‘fun’ or enjoyment; the words games typically conjure up in our minds.
With many alternative ‘titles’ to Serious Games it can also be hard to know what is what, and communicate this effectively internally to stakeholders; but effectively, Game-Based Learning (GBL), Immersive Learning Simulations (ILS) and Serious Games (SG) are one and the same thing. Once organisations can see beyond the word ‘game’ the virtual environment/world begins to show its true benefits. Saying that, getting beyond the word ‘game’ is easier said than done; those within the SG space often have to choose their words carefully when talking to a client or presenting a proposal for a project.
SG’s are a step beyond traditional e-Learning as they use computer game design techniques of engagement, flow and motivation to combine real work learning outcomes with meaningful scenarios and environments such as replicated virtual offices/warehouses/factories. Not to pique the excitement of the average ‘gamer’ but to create relevant and meaningful learning scenarios for the workforce. Once in this space the learner is asked to complete tasks and take part in various challenges and scenarios, by doing so they use their own knowledge and skills, formulate their own strategies and can be pushed to the limit of their boundaries; the objective is to enhance what you know, re-learn what you thought you new, and provide a source of knowledge that can be applied to real life situations.
Becker called them a no ‘brainer’, Stizmann (2010) supported their efficacy, budgets need to used more -effectively; the times, they are a changing!
Part 1 has hopefully served as an introduction to games in the corporate world. In part 2 of the series, we will showcase several studies around different sectors such as telecommunications, finance, defence, and we will also take a look at the softer side of training such as ways to examine diversity.