Games, which engage participants in the learning process and encourage interaction, make ideal training tools. But say “game” to adult learners and you may get a unanimous groan. The idea that training can be fast-paced, engaging, and fun doesn’t match the typical adult concept of learning, so games may be viewed as play rather than serious training.
But a game appropriate for the training situation and relevant to the learner has the power to challenge this idea while generating results. Used alone, or as part of a larger training initiative, games can measure existing knowledge, present an organizational situation, or illustrate a point. They can demonstrate successful behaviors and help learners develop skills that create value for their organizations.
Games should be engaging and fun, but their real substance lies in form and function. Here are some important elements that make a game a successful learning experience.
Make sure it’s relevant. Games are effective when they provide knowledge, skills, or insight to business challenges. Games that address real-life situations or organizational issues have far greater results than a game played for its own sake, or to “liven up” a training session.
Look for proven research and theories. The market is filled with games of every type for virtually every training situation – board, card, and web or video-based games. Be certain the game’s marketing doesn’t overshadow its credentials. As with any training tool, those designed on proven research and recognized learning theories provide the best results.
Keep it simple. Even if the game is a perfect match for the training topic, it is only useful if participants can quickly grasp its objective and understand how it is played. Over-complicated or confusing games won’t generate results. Clear directions and rules help learning process continue quickly and smoothly.
Why Games Work
Games embody experiential learning by immersing participants in the learning experience, which is the best means of getting learning to “stick.” For example, a team building game that requires all players to participate, develop common strategies for overcoming obstacles and reaching goals, and face consequences or reap rewards as a team, encourages memorable, easily transferable learning. By providing the opportunity for processing new information and practicing new workplace skills, games create a comfortable learning environment where learners become active participants in the learning process.
HRDQ (www.HRDQ.com) is a trusted developer of soft-skills learning solutions that help to improve the performance of individuals, teams, and organizations. We offer a wide range of resources and services, from ready-to-train assessments, hands-on games, and programs to facilitator certification, custom development, and more.
At HRDQ, we believe an experiential approach is the best catalyst for adult learning. Our unique Experiential Learning Model has been the core of what we do for more than 30 years. Combining the best of organizational learning theory and proven facilitation methods with an appreciation for adult learning styles, our philosophy initiates and inspires lasting change.