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ATD Blog

How to Use Games Post Training to Assess, Engage, and Make the Content Sticky

Tuesday, February 13, 2024
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Think back to last Wednesday. Did you drink coffee, tea, or water in the morning? What outfit did you wear? It’s probably easier to remember if Wednesday was yesterday (recent), a special occasion (meaningful), or if you do and wear the same thing every day (repetitive). Training is the same way. No matter how engaged learners are during a training session, content is easily forgotten over time—a phenomenon called the “forgetting curve.” Utilizing spaced learning, short and repetitive sessions spaced out over time, helps mitigate this memory lapse.

Games provide meaningful, self-motivated, repeated engagement in your spaced learning curriculum. We recommend integrating games:

  • Before, to introduce concepts and get people into the mindset to learn
  • During, to keep everyone deeply engaged and learning
  • And after, to reinforce learning and support transfer into long-term memory

This post will cover how games and gamification after a training session can boost motivation and engagement in after-course activities.

4 Ways Games Are Effective After a Training Session

Games are quick: Many games can be completed in 5 minutes or less. When people can play a short but effective game between distractions, it is easier to justify the time away from the workplace.

Games are fun: Players are more likely to engage when you reinforce key topics and skills in a less traditional, more game-like way. It makes the experience more memorable and challenges people to use the information, and their brains, in a new way.

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Games are active: Mindlessly scrolling through an e-learning course rarely leads to retention. However, when learners play a game, they engage more deeply and make more connections to the content.

Games are a safe space to practice: When you release people back into the world after a training session, they have to figure out how to use the knowledge and skills they learned. Mistakes and new questions are bound to arise. Games give learners a safe place to engage with these new, real-life questions and problems and learn from their mistakes so they can keep practicing to make better decisions in the workplace.

According to a sample study of 2,500 games on The Training Arcade®, 57 percent of players played three or more times. Players saw a 58 percent improvement in knowledge between the first and third attempt at play!

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Tips for Adding Games and Gamification After a Training Session

Aim for Variety
Repetition is key to the spaced learning approach, but engagement may only stay on track if you use the same games too frequently. Consider using a variety of game templates to cover similar content. Keep an eye on the game analytics and adjust your approach based on what games are most and least popular with your audience.

Encourage Weekly Games
Strive to build a library of quick, three- to five-minute games and challenge players to complete one game each week. If you do not have time to build entirely new games, you can change the order of questions in an existing game, re-use questions from a previous game in a new template, or replace a few older questions with something new.

Encourage Social Play
Learning games are often offered as a solo experience, but they can also be used for group play. For example, you can challenge one department to compete against another department for the highest individual or cumulative score. Or hold a monthly Jeopardy! game where individuals or teams compete to show off what they have learned over the last few weeks.

Accommodate Different Needs
Imagine that you’ve been asked to write your job description in five minutes or less. Although time is an important metric to track from an analytics point of view, it is a less reliable motivator for learning. Some people are excited and driven, while others feel anxious or are left behind. If you do include time-based challenges, make sure to provide alternatives that accommodate a range of needs and abilities.

About the Author

Carrie Wiser designs authentic, engaging learning experiences that help people get better at what they need to do. From full training strategies to microlearning moments, her goal is to demystify the learning process. She strives to create meaningful connections that improve confidence, understanding, and performance. Carrie draws on over 20 years of experience in a variety of industries including Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses, federal and nonprofit organizations, and higher education.

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