In her book ‘Immersive Learning’ Koreen Pagano suggests that game designers understand motivation and cognitive science better than trainers do. The reason is that with games there is immediate feedback and gamers also have an opportunity to try things out and even fail in a safe environment. The problem is if we take this to an extreme and make learning truly ‘gamified’ then it may be a step to far for what is quite a conservative industry. At the recent CIPD Learning and Development Conference at Olympia one of the major issues was how the industry was not really tech savvy. Also are learners ready for something so radical as avatars and new worlds? Probably not! So what can we take from this?
Well our experience is that we can take the principles of immersive learning, and make them relevant to management training. For example most e-learning courses are taken once, unlike a game where gamers go back time and again to try and improve. So we have created the conditions where learners can see the consequences of their actions and what we’re finding is that, even if they get the right answer, they go back and try again just to see the consequences of getting it wrong, but in a safe environment. Learning is far more effective if it is experienced and so we allow them to experience the consequences of a bad choice. For example imagine experiencing what happens if you lose your temper, or accuse someone, or even don’t pick up on a subtle issue. Imagine seeing what they go and do, what they think, what they tell other people. This reinforces their learning and, rather than it being just ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ it allows them to see why ‘wrong’ is ‘wrong.’
The world of learning, and especially management training will change over the coming years with ‘augmented reality’ and tools such as HoloLens and Oculus. However rather than try to get over excited about the technology, it’s probably best to focus on the learner and bring them along more gently and give them a truly memorable experience, not for its own sake, but so that the learning sticks and they become better at what they do. That after all is the aim of management training.