ATD Blog

Are You Using Games to Engage?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Learning only happens when the learner is engaged.  How do you get an individual to be engaged at the moment that learning is to occur?  That is by far the biggest challenge for any facilitator.  The answer is to make learning fun, challenging and rewarding—and that’s why games work so well.

Most people don’t even realize they are learning when they are engaged in a game.  They are so busy competing with others and having fun that they get completely immersed in the subject matter without even realizing it.  They are striving to obtain the reward of winning and get completely focused and zoned in on what they are doing.

I recently watched three videos by Jesse Schell of Carnegie Mellon University on the topic of "Design Outside the Box - Beyond Facebook" . . .  His imagination blows my mind!  His discussion on psychological tricks helps me to understand why I play some games and get fully engaged.  It's the psychological tricks that pull us in.


In the University setting I often use Ramp Up!  It’s a simple board game that teaches to fundamentals of Performance Consulting while providing a fun and competitive challenge.  It always amazes me how the students want to keep playing (and learning) when the time allotted has passed—like trying to get a child to come in for dinner when they are playing with their friends.  “Please, can we continue for another 30 minutes,” is what I hear every time.

Barbara Greenstein is the facilitator of the “Essentials of Game Design” course—an online workshop that delivers best practices in the design of games for the classroom. 

About the Author

Barbara Greenstein, principal of Human Resource Prescriptions, is a performance improvement specialist providing proven and creative ways to improve human performance in the workplace. By identifying issues and opportunities for improvement, she helps organizations large and small meet their planned goals.

Barbara is highly regarded for her facilitation and instructional design skills. With over 20 years of experience in the training and development field, her mission is to help clients put the systems in place that will help them manage effectively in today's changing business environment while ensuring optimal performance and job satisfaction for all employees.

Prior to becoming an external consultant, Barbara's corporate experience included training and instructional design for Burger King Corporation, Pizza Hut, and Electronic Data Systems (EDS). She completed her undergraduate work in consumer affairs and management at Florida International University and received a master's degree in human resource development, as well as graduate certificates in instructional design and total quality management (TQM) from Marymount University.

Barbara is an adjunct professor for the master's program in human resources at Chapman University in San Diego. She has also served as a facilitator for the University of San Diego's master's program in executive leadership program. In addition, she is a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT), a certification awarded through the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) and the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). Barbara is past president of the San Diego chapter of ASTD and an active member of ISPI.

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