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November 27, 2006

Identifying the Right Game for the Content

Games can sometimes be the perfect solution for an orientation or instruction session.

Often times at the University of Minnesota Libraries the goal for our 20 or 40 minutes as part of first year orientation isn’t to cram as much information as we can into those precious minutes – instead, our goal is to leave the students thinking that the library sounds like a great place to be and a great resource to have. If we get that far, we're pretty happy. What better way to do that than a game?

One of the training companies best known for developing instructional games is the Thiagi Group. They have some useful instructional design tips on the web that may be helpful to you. I've included library examples where it makes sense.

First, decide to which of these three domains your learning content belongs:

1. Facts and Information

A fact is a simple bit of knowledge or information. It is usually in the form of a statement that specifies a relationship between two or more objects, actions, or events:

- AND is a Boolean operator.
- An article index is where you can look to find articles on your topic.

Facts are mostly related to other facts and other types of knowledge.

2. Concepts

A concept is a set of objects, events, actions, characteristics, or ideas that share critical attributes and belong to a specific class that is identified by a common label.

- Controlled Vocabulary
- Citation Styles

For every concept, you should be able to provide multiple examples. (If you cannot, you are probably dealing with a fact.)

3. Procedures and Processes

A procedure is a step-by-step skill that is performed essentially the same way each time.

- Finding a book with a known title
- Identifying who is citing a seminal article in your field

A process is a sequential flow of events.
- Responding to a digital reference question
- Designing workshop handouts

What kind of game might you design for each type of learning content?

1. Information and Facts

- CHOICES with multiple choice questions
- TIC TAC with questions resulted to different subtopics
- HANGMAN (multiple question) with fact recall questions
- CATEGORIZE (True or False) with statements to be classified as true or false

2. Concepts

- CATEGORIZE (categories) with different related concept labels and examples to be classified.
- HANGMAN (single question) that requires recall of examples
- TIC TAC with questions classified according to different concepts.
- CHOICES with questions related to critical and irrelevant features of a concept.

3. Procedures and Processes

- SEQUENCE for arranging steps, stages, or phases in the right order.
- CATEGORIZES (categories) to classify items (inputs, activities, standards, outputs) according to the step (or stage or phase) associated with them.
- HANGMAN (single question) for recalling items associated with different steps (or stages or phases)
- TIC TAC with questions related to different steps (or stages or phases)

From http://thiagi.com/wgs-instructionalDesignTips.html

November 13, 2006

Tips for Instructional Designers

The best train-the-trainer training I've experienced was done by a company called Langevin Learning Services. I hope you'll find their "tips for instructional designers" to be helpful:

Performance-Based Focus
1. Base the content on the learners’ job tasks.
2. Break tasks down into step-by-step “how to? instructions.
3. Minimize “nice-to-know? information.
4. Target content to the experience level of the learners.
5. Design exercises that simulate the job tasks.
6. Design activities that will help learners transfer the skills learned to their job.
7. Design course materials to be job aids.
8. Build principles of adult learning into the course.
9. Structure the course content according to how the job is performed.
10. Spend about 1/3 of the course time on the presentation of content.
11. Allow about 2/3 of the course time for application (i.e. practice) and feedback.
12. Validate the course with a representative sample of the learner population.

Go to the pdf version here.