The following blog post was written by guest blogger, Melissa Milloway.
Higher education classrooms and the workforce are becoming more diverse, which means a blended learning curriculum is a perfect way to reach all audiences. Curriculum developers, like instructional designers, can reach learners of different learning styles using a blended learning approach. Blended learning encompasses a curriculum where the learner is participating in learning asynchronously, synchronously, and with a variety of multimedia.
As a millennial, the best way to reach me is through a variety of deliverables. I prefer not to take an entire curriculum through hours of eLearning modules or solely through face-to-face classes. I tend to want to be engaged and to approach learning in many ways.
Gaming is an engaging way to reach me and the new generation of workers gaining employment. Gaming can easily be added as a deliverable to a blended curriculum without sacrificing other traditional deliverable methods. There are two types of ways to approach gaming in a blended curriculum. The two approaches to games are “serious games” and “gamification-based” games.
Serious games are simulation type games. They are games where the learner is most likely simulating what they would be doing on the job. An employee at a factory might play a serious game, in order to learn how to properly handle a process on a machine. A way that the game could be part of a blended curriculum would be if the learner first took a face-to-face class on operating the machine. In a simulated environment the employee is then able to safely operate the machine for the first time. The employee would be able to practice going through the process in the simulation. Once they have practiced, the employee could then move on to another aspect of the curriculum or they could be tested on the process on the actual machine.
Gamification-based games are games that reward the learner for doing well within the game. The learner might be asked to answer a series of questions or complete tasks. The learner is given a reward for answering questions or completing a task correctly. The idea is that gamification reinforces positive behavior. Rewards include, but are not limited to, badges, points, titles, and recognition on a leaderboard. Competition and achievement of status drive learners to do well in gamification-based games. An example could be a game on selling skills. After a sales force takes an online learning module on selling skills, they could play a gamification-based game. The game would pull key objectives from the modules and reinstitute them as questions or a simulation with questions.
Serious games can have a component of gamification. Say we take the idea of the serious game where the employee is simulating operating a machine. We can give the employee points for each step of the process they get correct; therefore, reinforcing their correct behavior.
Adding serious games and gamification-based games to a blended curriculum gives the curriculum developer the opportunity to reach and engage diverse audiences. A blended learning approach allows untraditional deliverables (like games) to be added to a curriculum without sacrificing traditional deliverables (like eLearning modules). Serious games and gamification-based games will enhance and reinforce learning objectives from traditional deliverables.
Melissa Milloway is an Instructional Technologist and Designer. Milloway holds a Master of Science in Instructional Technology from Bloomsburg University. You can subscribe to her blog at http://melslearninglab.wordpress.com/ and follow her on Twitter @MelMilloway.