Making learning more game-like

Patrick Dunn recently wrote about Serious Games (SG):

One thing that keeps niggling me about the whole SG area: it feels like we're producing another "category" of learning experience (like EPS, course, scenario etc.). My view is that most things exist on spectrums, not in categories. Much of the value of SGs is how they can help us understand how to make other types of learning more game-like. There's a danger - given the already fairly low level of expertise within e-learning companies and their clients - that those responsible for commissioning and/or designing learning experiences will fall into the trap of always asking: "is it a game, or is it a course, or is it a....?" instead of producing a strategy with particular characteristics driven by what learners need.

Patrick has stopped using the term "instructional design" and changed to "learning design". He's a thought leader in by blog reader for creating learner experiences. I concur with his wanting to make other kinds of learning more game-like. This aligns with outgrowing the premises of content development and delivery.

In thinking about which kinds of learning are best suited to gaming, I'm particularly drawn to "psychological transitions". My recent "Playing the Contrarian game" is the rough outline of the arduous, emotional and mental transition from curmudgeon to contrarian thinking. This transition is inherent in the struggles of control-freak, front-line supervisors who were expected to reinvent themselves during the downsizing/flattening of organizations in the mid nineties.

Many other psychological transitions seem amenable to game-like learning experiences:

Obviously I'm not alone in being passionate about learners transitioning from passive and damaged to self motivated and free ranging. We are anxious for designers to transition from "kidnapping the learners" to freeing the chickens so they act like wild gamers exploring vast networks. (DIY, not DYI- do yourself in, DUI or DOA ;-)

Like Clark Quinn and others, I'm fascinated by a transition from practical knowledge to wisdom. We see the value in a transition from tactical thinking to strategic thought processes. We are anxious to see instructional designers transition from content driven (boring) models to learner centered designs (engaging, immersive)

Like Brent Schlenker and many others, I see ways to support parents and children who are realizing school is a stupid game to play and transitioning to more empowering games in life. We are loaded with avenues to explore with professionals who come to the point of "Game over - play again?" where continued confidence and momentum loses its meaning, purpose and value.

Like Jay Cross and cohorts , I am concerned with the high cost of the spending on formal instruction (snake oil) which cries for the transition to informal learning principles and practices. The middle men (and women) who fear getting cut out of the deal -- face a transition to being more creative, valuable, empathic and collaborative with the learners.

Perhaps our talking about "support for difficult psychological transitions" will get more attention, buy-in and monetization of innovations -- than we have experienced thus far with our talk of tools, techniques and pedagogies.

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