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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Video Games and Motivation

Gamification

Every year globally, people spend huge amounts of money and time playing video games. Most people who engage in video game play choose to do so voluntarily, because it is fun and they enjoy it. This makes it an intrinsically motivating activity.

Research into video game play has tended to focus on either the positive effects e.g. a sense of efficacy or improved learning or the negative effects e.g. lower productivity or violent tendencies on players1. However, some studies have examined the motivating effects of video games, albeit from different perspectives.

Sherry and Lucas2 found that players engage in video games to access one or more of the following psychological states:

  • Competition: the experience of defeating others
  • Challenge: the experience of success following effort
  • Diversion: to escape an experience of stress
  • Fantasy: to experience novel or unrealistic stimuli
  • Social interaction: to have a social experience
  • Arousal: to experience activated positive emotions

According to Yee3, people who play Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG) e.g. Star Wars Galaxies, were motivated by three main areas while playing (made up of 10 sub-components):

Achievement:

  • Advancement: rapid progression, gaining power, accumulating wealth or status
  • Mechanics: analysing the rules and system in order to optimise character performance
  • Competition: a desire to challenge and compete with others

Social:

  • Socialising: including helping others, making friends, chatting with other players
  • Relationships: developing long-term relationships, finding and giving support to others
  • Teamwork: collaborating with others, achieving as a group.

Immersion:

  • Discovery: exploring the game world, finding hidden things within the game
  • Role-Playing: creating a character back-story, interacting with other characters
  • Customisation: the ability to create the appearance of the character
  • Escapism: providing an escape from real-life problems

Research by Ryan, Rigby and Przybylski4 into the motivation to play video games (regardless of the game type) found that motivation is accounted for by how well the game satisfies our three basic psychological needs:

  1. Autonomy – the extent to which the game provides flexibility over movement and strategies, choice over task and goals, and rewards that provide feedback and not control.
  2. Competence – the extent to which tasks provide ongoing challenges and opportunities for feedback.
  3. Relatedness – the extent to which the game provides interactions between players.

In addition to need satisfaction, their research also found that:

Presence – the extent to which the player feels within the game environment as opposed to being outside the game manipulating the controls, and

Intuitive controls – the extent to which the controls make sense and don’t interfere with feelings of presence, were also important as they allow players to focus on game play and access the need satisfaction provided by the game.

Contexts that satisfy these basic needs will support people’s actions, resulting in more optimal motivation and positive outcomes. Therefore, we should design our eLearning experiences to support the autonomy, competence and relatedness needs of our learners.

Gamification is a technique that aims to replicate the motivational pull of video game play and apply it to eLearning experiences. While gamification has been met with some criticism, it seems that it’s more the application that is the problem rather than the technique itself. In order to successfully gamify an eLearning course we need to satisfy people’s basic psychological needs. If we look at popular video games over time such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, Angry Birds, Guitar Hero, Wii Sports, Donkey Kong, World of Warcraft or Space Invaders, we can see how they satisfy these needs and use similar approaches to our own eLearning design.

Here are some examples of the game design elements used by these popular games and how they apply to each of our psychological needs:

Autonomy:

  • Allowing players to make meaningful choices that have consequences
  • Providing players with more than one way to reach their goal
  • Allowing players to customise their environment e.g. choosing a character

Competence:

  • Making the rules and goals for players clear and structured
  • Allowing multiple opportunities to complete parts of the game to allow players to build their competence
  • Requiring players to frequently make decisions to keep the game moving forward
  • Measuring player performance in multiple ways
  • Increasing the difficulty as the player progresses through the game
  • Linking progression (the reward) to player competence
  • Providing players with constant and varied feedback and support
  • Allowing players to review or replay earlier parts of the game

Relatedness:

  • Providing space/areas for player interaction and discussion
  • Providing opportunities for player collaboration e.g. a group quest or challenge

Popular games use different combinations of game design elements in order to keep people motivated to play. If you substitute ‘player’ with ‘learner’, from the above list, you will see how gamification can be incorporated into your eLearning experiences. Once the mechanics are selected (based on the needs of learners), designers can then look to incorporate the aesthetic elements of game design in order to create presence and intuitive control/navigation which will support the game mechanics.

Motivation plays an important role during eLearning experiences and our challenge is to create eLearning that our learners want to engage in. While it does require more effort in the design, gamification is a technique that, if used correctly, can improve the motivation of all learners who experience gamified eLearning.

References

1 & 4 Ryan, R. M., Rigby, C. S & Przybylski, A. K., (2006). The motivational pull of video games: a self-determination theory approach. Motivation and Emotion.  30, 347-364.

2 Przybylski, A. K., Rigby, C. S. & Ryan, R. M. (2010) A motivational model of video game engagement. Review of General Psychology. 14 (2), 154-166.

3 Yee, N. (2006). Motivations for play in online games. CyberPsychology & Behaviour. 9 (6), 772-775.

Game Over

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22 Comments

Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Gamification, Motivation

 

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Showing My Work #1

The Showing My Work series of posts are what I’m using to ‘narrate’ the projects that I’m working on or have developed.

Recently at my workplace, I’ve been involved in a project to train a group of employees to become relief operators for some items of plant (which are machines like tractors, graders, excavators and trucks). I was working on this project with the HR Co-ordinator and the L&D Officer for the outdoor staff in our organisation. My role as the instructional designer was to develop some materials to help the new operators learn how to drive and use the various machines (there were 9 different types in all).

Armed with a Sony Handycam, we met with each operator who was also our subject matter expert (SME). The reason for filming was that we thought it would be easier to capture what the SME was saying and showing, rather than having to make lots of notes and take photos. The SME took us through the pre-start checks, what the cabin controls are used for and how to perform some of the operating tasks – things that a new person would need to know about. I filmed the SME as they talked about their machine and explained how it worked. After this, I went through the footage and took snapshots to create images (using VLC media player). I then annotated the images using the SME’s descriptions and explanations. It all came together in a ‘New Operator Guide’ for each piece of plant.

The footage turned out pretty well especially given it was unscripted (although, no Oscar this year!). As a result, we also decided to burn the footage to disc and give this to the new operator to go with the guide.

All of the guides followed a similar format – Entering and Exiting, Pre-start Checks, Cabin Controls and Operation. The aim was to keep it as simple as possible and easy to follow. Safety was also important, given that the items of plant can be quite dangerous if used incorrectly.

As always, the guides were given back to the SME’s for review and comment. This was then incorporated into the guide. The operators were very passionate about their item of plant, so it was great to talk to them and work with them. The materials will essentially be a support for the new operators to supplement the practice sessions they will receive until they are competent (which will take some time).

Here are a few samples taken from different guides:

In this example, we can see how to enter and exit the vehicle safely. The ‘Key Safety Tip’ boxes were a suggestion from the Safety Officer who I also sent the guides to for feedback from a safety perspective. Them tips are used throughout all of the guides and generally, the information came from the Work Method Statements (WMS) for the particular item of plant.

Entering and Exiting

The pre-start checks are completed each day before operating the piece of plant. I wanted to step the learners through the process. This example comes from the grader and shows how to check the engine area. Where possible, I’ve tried to orientate the learner to where a small part sits within a larger area. I’ve done this by magnifying the views of some parts. This was the learner can see where the item sits within the overall picture and then gets some enhanced detail of the part – in this case the isolation switch and a light switch.

Pic1

This example shows the cabin controls from one of the trucks. These varied in complexity from machine to machine. For ones that had many controls, I again used the method that showed the whole thing and then enlarged relevant sections which were labelled.

Cabin Controls

The final part was to show how to operate parts of the machine. This example shows some of the steps to fill a pothole.

Operation

The real test will be when the new operators receive the materials once the program starts. I intend to talk with them to gather feedback from their perspective as a learner that I can then incorporate into the materials for future groups.

So, what do you think?

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 15, 2013 in Show Your Work

 

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25 Tips for Successful Online Course Facilitation

Concept of Hand with Electronic Fingerprints

Teaching in the online environment is quite different from teaching in the classroom and as such has a number of unique characteristics and limitations. The following guide (based on my experience as an online facilitator and learner) is designed to help you before, during and after an online teaching event.

Before the Online Course Starts:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the course delivery structure and the site/platform
  2. Develop an online delivery plan/schedule
  3. Check that all resources, activities and links work (i.e. they open in a new window), are current and relevant to the learning experience
  4. Update your contact information
  5. Contact learners, welcome them to the course and provide clear log-in instructions

At the Beginning of the Online Course:

  1. Check that learners can log-in and provide support and troubleshoot as needed
  2. Facilitate introductions and community-building activities at beginning of the course e.g. have everyone introduce themselves in a café style forum
  3. Set clear expectations
  4. Confirm contact/turnaround times
  5. Emphasise the importance of interactions and that online communication between participants is key to building community and contributes to the course outcomes, profiles, forums, chats etc.
  6. Encourage sharing of experiences

During the Online Course:

  1. Be a positive online role model
  2. Send some sort of meaningful weekly communication, but, don’t overwhelm learners
  3. Ideally respond to learner’s communication within a reasonable time frame to resolve any difficulties/queries to ensure their learning is not interrupted e.g.  phone calls, email, messaging, and forum posts
  4. Provide guidance and direction to learners when needed
  5. Encourage online communication between participants
  6. Relate to learner experiences and ask thought-provoking questions
  7. Promote learner independence/responsibility and learner collaboration
  8. Provide technical and other learner support as required
  9. Online learning can be isolated and lonely so provide positive encouragement and feedback
  10. Monitor learner progress, participation in activities and completion of assessment tasks and follow-up as required
  11. Provide informative developmental feedback

After the Online Course Finishes:

  1. Wrap-up the course, thank learners for their participation
  2. Review learner feedback and make recommendations for improvement
  3. Engage in your own self-reflection for improvement and consolidation

What are your tips for successful online course facilitation?

My list of tips was originally posted on the eLearning Industry website a few weeks ago. It’s had over 4,600 views so I thought I’d post it here as well.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Online Facilitation

 

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