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Friday, September 29, 2006

Presentations on Games and Learning

Check out this site for some interesting presentation materials given on a workshop about games and learning.

Click Here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: Games Aren't "Cutesy"

One reader recently posted a comment about having games they developed called "Cutesy" in a corporate environment. Here are some statistics from my upcoming book Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning which clearly show the results from using games is anything but "Cutesy."

List of Successes using Games to Teach

--A leadership simulation called Virtual Leader increased the participant’s team performance rankings by an average of 22%. Aldrich, C. (2005) Learning by Doing. (pg. 267) San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer a division of John Wiley & Sons.

--The racing game Midtown Madness is being used by doctors at the Virtual Reality Medical Center in San Diego to treat patients who have a fear of driving after traumatic car accidents. Greenleaf, W., Fitter, J. & Rosser, J (2005, February, 21) Playing games for health. Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. Retrieved October 5, 2005, from ProQuest database.

--The combination dance/video game Dance Dance Revolution is helping kids to loose weight and get active. Some kids have lost as much as 80 pounds. Video game fans dance off extra pounds. (2004, May, 5). [Electronic Version] USA Today. Retrieved March 18, 2006 from

--A corporate trainer found that 88% of a group that played a live classroom game based on “Hollywood Squares” passed the final review test on the first try compared to only 54% of a group that reviewed the material using traditional methods. Totty, M. (2005, April, 25). BTechnology (a special report); Business solutions. Wall Street Journal. (pg. R6). Retrieved October 5, 2005, from ProQuest database.

--Research reported in the scientific journal, Nature, indicates that playing action videogames can bring marked improvements in the ability to pay attention to objects and changes in the visual environment. Begley, S. (2003, May, 29). The kid flunked, but he sure pays attention. Wall Street Journal. (pg. B1). Retrieved October 10, 2005, from ProQuest database.

--Surgeons who play three hours a week of video game decrease mistakes by 37% in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27 percent faster than their counterparts who did not play video games. Laparoscopic surgery uses a tiny camera controlled by a joystick to view the inside of the body. Dobnik, V. (2004, April, 7). Surgeons may error less by playing video games. Associated Press Retrieved March 18, 2006 from

--The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding a series of computer games to help prepare first responders and health care workers facing bioterrorist attacks, pandemics and possible nuclear accidents. Christopher, A. (2005, January,13) Games tackle disaster training. [Electronic Version] Wired. Retrieved on January 1, 2006 from,1282,69580,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2

One thing that can be done is to disguise the "game" with a corporate look. See my article on Learning Circuits that shows a couple corporate looking games at the end of the article. It is called Teaching Facts with Fun, Online Games. The corporate "look and feel" of the games at the end of the article can help to aid adoption. The real proof, however, for using games are the results and the increased focus the learners have on the materials.

Content Guide

Please add your comments and thoughts about game use in corporate or even academic settings.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: Talking Web Sites

One of the instructional designers here at the IIT, Pam Berman, introduced me to this product. It is really kind of neat, it reads a web site for you through a handy software application. The company is named TEXTIC and the product is Talklets.

The product can either be provided by the host of the web site or it can be purchased by an individual user who can then listen to virtually any web page he or she wants. The product also allows the learner to download the content of a web site as an MP3 file for later playback.

Imagine the could download a competitor's web site and listen to it in the car. You could create a training program in HTML (Flash currently is not supported) and then have it simultaneously published as an MP3 for downloading to the learner's iPod or other portable MP3 player. You would have an effective method of creating a script and converting it to the spoken word.

The product offers yet another method of conveying knowledge in dual modes so learners and others can access it when and how they want...text or audio.

Thanks to Pam. You can visit her blog site at The Bifurcation Point.

Content Guide

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Advice for Students

This post is designed to allow alumni of the IIT program and other professionals in the field of e-learning and instructional design a chance to provide advice, direction and comments to students who are currently earning a Master's degree in Instructional Technology. Please take the time and provide some input. I am sure the students would appreciate it.

Content Guide

RFP: Requirements Matrix

Often, a good strategy for responding to an E-Learning Request for Proposal (RFP) is to create a Requirements Matrix. The matrix helps the vendor keep track of all the items that the client is requesting be contained within the e-learning proposal. You can see a sample Requirements Matrix by clicking on the link below.

Sample Requirements Matrix

Content Guide

Monday, September 25, 2006

Evaluation: Thought Unit

One method of developing a multiple choice question that requires cognitive processing is to define a “thought unit.” A thought unit is a segment of material to be learned that is organized around one theme or focal idea. It is more expansive than an objective and requires more processing from the learner.

A thought unit is usually defined by a heading or sub-heading. The old method of developing questions is from an objective. Unfortunately, instructional objectives are often too limiting in terms of cognitive processing because they need to be measured and therefore are usually written simplistically and are designed to elicit thought processes no higher than basic recall. They tend not to get into higher level processing. A thought unit, on the other hand, is information covering several ideas and therefore can require higher levels of cognitive processing.

Once a thought unit is identified, summarize the information and determine the focal point of the thought unit. Once that is done, choose the type of question you would like to develop. Four different types are listed below. When writing your next multiple choice question, try to have it fall into one of these categories.

•Summarizing—Require the learner to select a phrase that is the best paraphrase a statement. It shows the learner understands the thought unit.(Which of the following statements best summarizes the idea of...)

•Predicting—Require the learner to anticipate the next logical step or cause/effect relationship. (Based on these facts, what will most likely happen next)

•Evaluating—Require learner to make a judgment.(Which is better, option A or B)

•Applying—Require learner to apply knowledge to a new situation. (Given a situation, determine the best course of action)

Content Guide


For this blog to work, it needs to be a two way discussion between visitors and myself. To that end, this post is to solicite ideas and thoughts you have about what topics you would like to see me address in this blog. Please feel free to input information about the types of subjects that you would like to see discussed as they relate to learning, e-learning and the boomer/gamer knowledge gap. And thanks for reading and contributing to this community.

Content Guide

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: Hang-Man

There are a number of formats you can use to create Casual Educational Games. One such format is based on the popular paper and pencil game, Hang-Man.

Hang-Man can be made into an educational game to teach acronyms or memorized information by adding a definition to the game. Instead of simply guessing a word by providing a bunch of letters, the learner is given a definition and must guess the letters that represent the term related to the definition. The player thinks about the definition and associates it with the term as they play the game. The player competes against the clock seeing how quickly she can guess the right term. This simple Hang-Man game can greatly speed the time it takes to employees’ to learn new terms and definitions.

The Hang-Man concept can be modified to be played in several different ways. For example, the traditional game has a decidedly negative connotation (a person hanging by the neck until dead.)

It is possible to change the “hang-the-man-until-dead” theme to one such as“freeing a road runner.” The concept is the same; guess the correct letters when given a definition within a certain number of tries only the graphics are changed to be less offensive to an academic or corporate environment.

Play the Road Runner Hang-Man game here.

The game was created by Greg Walsh. You can check out his blog titled "Instructional Technology HQ" here.

Content Guide

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Content Guide

This is a quick content guide to provide you with direct access to just the right topic you are seeking. The major chapters (entries) of the blog are identified with the links below. The contentguide allows you to quickly navigate to the information you are seeking without having to scroll through archives or a long page.

Purpose of this Blog
This blog is designed to provide you with information about the design of learning and e-learning with a special focus on the boomer/gamer knowledge gap. Please take the time to comment and enter into a dialogue about the site and the content.

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos
Defining a Gamer
Casual Educational Games
Hang-Man For Learning
Talking Web Sites
Games Aren't "Cutsey"
LEGO Star Wars II
Knowledge Transfer
Games as Teaching Tools
Recommendations on What to Buy to Understand Gamer's Thinking
Cool 3D Browser
Learning Algebra in a Game
Learning Spanish in a Game
More Second Life
Army's Future Force
Using Games to Motivate Employees
Avatars on Your Web Page
Informal Learning at
Learning Multiplication Tables in a Game
IBM Opens Business Unit in Second Life
Nobel Prize Games
Shopping in Second Life
Checkout BrainPOP
Avatars for Learning
Learning about Avatars
Virtual NBC
Dad, Can I Download the Teletubbies Ring Tone?
Attending an ISTE Meeting in SL
Hand Held PC
Learning to Spell
Interface Be Gone
Virtual Reality is Back

Brain Drain
Where in the World is Everybody Going?
The "Perfect Storm" of Unfilled IT Jobs

E-Learning Project Elements that Need Managed

You Need a Needs Analysis

The Long Tail of Instructional Design
Teaching Soft Skills: A Four Step Method
Teaching Attitude
Time Savings Converting Stand Up Training to E-Learning
Advantages of Interactivity
Creating a Scenario to Teach Software Procedures
The Difficult Subject Matter Expert (SME)
Six Word Lesson Plan
Advantages of Games
Creating Questions for Compliance Training
Webinar Presentation of E-Learning Instructional Strategies
Behaviorism has its Place
Creating Good Questions
A Friendly Human/Computer Interface
Inside the Interface

Using a Game Engine to Create a Simulation
When Does Collective Wisdom Make Sense?

E-Learning for the Non-Wired
Create a Learning Council
Evaluating Collaboration

Test Creation Tips
Thought Unit
Instructor Observation

RFP and Proposals
Requirements Matrix
LMS/LCMS Selection Templates

Bloomsburg University's Corporate Advisory Council
Fall 2006
Spring 2007
Fall 2007

Calculators for Determining E-Learning ROI
E-Learning on a Shoestring
E-BAP: The E-Learning Business Acquisition Process
Should You Host the LMS or Let the Vendor

Informal Learning
Informal Learning Tools
Structuring a Blog

Out and About
Learning Organisations
Bloomsburg Entrepreneurs
NSF ATE 2006 Conference
2006 Training Solutions Conf. and Expo.
Video Conference
Interview with Marc Rosenberg
Discussion on Educational Schools of Thought
Which Superheros are my Sons?
Which Superhero am I?
Blogging at Training Day
Honored to be Nominated
Gadgets, Games and Gizmos April Webinar

Industry News
Online Students Increasing in Numbers
Get a "Second Life"
First Millionaire in Second Life
Predictions for Biz and Industry

Learning Circuit Blog: Big Question
Yes, All Learning Professionals Should Blog--At Least for a Month
How Do We Get Learning Professionals to Blog
Yes, We Should Keep ADDIE, HPT and ISD Models
Thoughts about 2006 and Predictions about 2007
Follow Discussion on Our Models
Questions, Questions and More Questions

Shout Out
Waleed Jameel
Nick Pastore and Kat Siedleck
Abbey Stahl--All the Rage
Will Thalheimer

Alternatives to the ADDIE Instructional Design Model
ABCD Objectives
Massively Multi-learner Online Learning Environment
The Value of Instructional Designers

Advice for Students about the field of Instructional Technology

Comments about the Blog? Subjects you'd like to see. Go here to add general comments.

Attending an online university can help save you money on your degree in ways you might not have considered. People who don't go to an online college in order to get themself a Bachelor degree won't need to pay for gas or car upkeep since they can get their online degree right from home.

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: Casual Educational Games

There seems to be an attitude in training and academic circles that you need to “go big or go home” when it comes to educational game development. Well, you don’t need to go home…or go big. An educational game doesn't have to be an expensive first-person master piece to be educational and entertaining.

Beneficial, educational games can and are being developed inexpensively. Intertwining learning and electronic games does not require a cinema-like production value. Many advertisers have learned the lesson of short, quick, fun games.

Educators, trainers and corporate managers need to learn the same lesson. Coca-Cola, the company that makes the soft drink Coke and many other beverages, has created a number of small games that only take a few minutes to play. Give them a try.

The games are fun, draw you in and only take a few minutes to play and the cost to develop is a lot less than an elaborate console-based video game.

In the gaming world, simplistic, easy-to-play, short games are called “Casual Games” or “Coffee-Break” games. As instructional designers, learning experts and academics, we need to start to develop simple educational games to provide a quick "Learning Opportunity" for those we are trying to train or teach.

One is example of an educational casual game is a "Wack a Mole" game use to teach basic chemistry. Give it a try. The game is fun, quick to play and, if you are not careful, you might learning something.

Check out more games at the "Fun and Games" page of my web site.

Content Guide

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: Defining a Gamer

There is a new generaton of learner who is going to have a dramatic impact on learning and e-learning design. This new generation has been called by numerous titles but the one I like is Gamer.

A Gamer is someone who has grown up in a generation influenced and shaped by video games and technology. It is the fact that someone has grown up during a time when many people within his or her generation where playing video games that makes them a gamer.

Even if the person did not own a console or a PC on which to play games, chances are they played the video games at their friend’s house, at the arcade or even played educational video games at school.

According to this broad definition, it is not whether or not the person is currently playing video games. Many kids grew up playing video games and then moved on to other pursuits as they got older (Although many have not. The average age of a gamer is about 30 years old.)

Kids who have played video games during their formative years or were involved in the popular culture that hyped and discussed the attributes of video games have been shaped by video games whether they know it or not. In much the same way that baby boomers were shaped by the culture of television even if every boomer did not have a television in his or her living room.

For the boomers, cultural references, opinions of leaders and the influence of others were shaped by the introduction and widespread adoption of television, the same is now true of the gamers who were shaped by video games.

Designers of instruction, corporate workflow systems and academic programs need to be tuned into this gamer generation and find effective methods of transfering knowledge from the boomers to the gamers.

Content Guide

Evaluation: Test Creation Tips

Here are a few tips for creating effective multiple choice questions:

1) Provide a scenario in which the learner has to apply knowledge previously learned to answer the question. Avoid straight memorization.
2) Encourage the learner to draw conclusions from the content provided.
3) When several items are based on a single case or problem situation, make sure that each question is independent of the other questions (one doesn't provide the answer for another).
4) Avoid negative statements and double negatives.
5) Keep the questions from being offensive to any religion, gender, sexual preference or other group. Avoid using gender specific references such as “female tellers” or “male supervisors” simply use the terms "teller" or "supervisor".
6) Avoid the pronoun “You” for referring to the test taker or respondent. Use a title of a position rather than you. The person taking the test may do a procedure or a process different than the standard.
7) Always include a noun after the phrase “Which of the Following.” This helps the test taker to maintain focus on the stem.
8) Use either a direct question or an incomplete statement for the stem, whichever is more appropriate to present the question. Placing options at the end of the stem is better than having blank spaces in the middle of the question.
9) As much information as possible should be stated in the stem as opposed to the answers.
10) For a step-by-step procedure, write the quesiton so the learner has to anticipate the next step and apply the knowledge to solve a problem.

Content Guide

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Out and About: Learning Organisation

Just recently finished presenting in London on the topic of Learning Organizations which described how organistions need to focus on knowledge transfer between the older, more mature workforce and the new gamer generation that learns differently and has different learning and workforce expectations. Here are some interesting facts about the gamer generation in Europe.

In Europe, the number of broadband connections has increased 136% over the last 12 months, with Spain, France and the Netherlands leading the pack.

The pool of workers ages 34 to 44 is expected to shrink: 19% in the United Kingdom, 27% in Germany and 9% in Italy.

A survey of London accountants found that one in ten did not envision
working past age 50.

World wide, video game sales will expand to $56 billion in 2008, more than double the $23 billion sold in 2003.

Here is an online game created in France to teach its citizens the realities of trying to balance a budget. In the game you are tasked with the process of creating and executing a budget for the country. The idea was to show how difficult and complex the process can be. Check it out at

Europe has the added difficulting in transfering knowledge because they are constantly dealing with multiple langauages, multiple cultures and multiple countries.

Content Guide