Q&A with Koreen Olbrish

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On January 29th, in San Jose, renowned speakers and authors Karl Kapp and Koreen Olbrish are conducting a specially-designed one-day workshop on game design and gamification. Recently, Karl sat down and interviewed Koreen about the event.

Karl Kapp: You are conducting a workshop at the ASTD TechKnowledge Conference, what is the topic of the workshop and why did you choose that topic?

Koreen Olbrish: The title of the workshop is "Game Design and Gamification." The title is important in that it calls out that there is a difference between the two. Thinking about what your goals are will help you determine whether a game is the best approach, or if gamification might be a plausible solution to a learning or performance objective.

Karl: What types of things will attendees learn?

Koreen: We want attendees to focus on the design decisions that are critical to games for learning. We'll be talking about things like game mechanics, design considerations, storyline, rewards and achievements, and designing for failure. There's A LOT to cover in one day!

Karl: Does an attendee need a computer or laptop to attend?

Koreen: No technology is needed to attend; this session is going to focus on game design, so bring your best critical thinking and design skills!


Karl: Why is this topic important to learning and development professionals?

Koreen: As learning professionals expand their thinking of how people learn, most realize that games are a powerful learning tool. While traditional learning methodologies might cover many of your learning needs, there are some performance objectives that can't be taught through didactic content presentation. Games are an important tool for learning professionals to understand, both how it can support learning and what types of learning for which games are best suited.

Karl: How do games and gamification help people learn?

Koreen: Games and gamification provide external motivation for behavior, they allow for repeated practice for incremental skill improvement, and they can provide real world context that mirrors complex performance environments. These features are somewhat unique to games and can help push people from simple knowledge acquisition (or "I know this”) to performance improvement (or "I can do this!")

Karl: What is the most important thing I should know if I am planning on attending the workshop?

Koreen: Be ready to DO things. We'll be talking a lot about design, but we won't just be talking. Also, plan on telling us about your favorite game :)

Karl: How does someone register for this event?

Koreen: You can register through the ASTD TechKnowledge 2013 conference registration page. Looking forward to seeing you there!

About the Author

Karl Kapp is a professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA and is the author behind the widely read “Kapp Notes” blog and a regular contributor to ATD’s “Learning Circuits” blog. Karl has written or co-authored six books on the convergence of learning and technology including the bestselling book “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction.” In that book, Karl explores the research and theoretical foundations behind effective game-based learning. He examines everything from variable reward schedules to the use of avatars to the use of games to teach pro-social behaviors. Karl’s latest book is a fieldbook which takes the ideas from the Gamification book and provides instructions for implementing those ideas. It’s called “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook: Ideas into Practice.” Karl is committed to helping organization’s develop a strategic, enterprisewide approach to organizational learning. He believes that effective education and training are the keys to increased productivity and profitability. He can be reached at

About the Author

Koreen Pagano, senior product manager at, is passionate about helping people learn more effectively. Koreen advocates new ways of using technology for organizational learning, with an emphasis on performance improvement and behavioral change. She has strong ties to education, having received her MS in curriculum and instruction from Penn State University. She helped start Freire Charter School in 1999, and founded Tandem Learning in 2008 to demonstrate the untapped potential of immersive learning design. An internationally recognized speaker and organizational consultant, Koreen has taught graduate courses at Harrisburg University and writes the blog Learning in Tandem.

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