A big thanks to everyone who participated in the interactive ASTD Links article, “Are You Having Fun Yet?” The volume and quality of responses far exceeded our expectations!
The wisdom and insight you shared demonstrate the power of collective intelligence. Kudos to you!
To recap, the article asked for this input:
- List the reasons you may not have used training games in the past.
- List 10 benefits of playing games in training classes.
- Explain why the benefits are important.
- List games you’ve played that worked well, and why.
A report with the more detailed responses is available for download. This article provides the highlights of what you shared.
The first thing we learned was that the experiment of using an “interactive article” was very effective! We got a terrific response with hundreds of useful insights. Now we’d love to hear from the participants—how did you like this approach? Did you feel more engaged or empowered by the ability to provide your thoughts? Please click here to provide your feedback.
So, what did we learn from you? Trainers like games! But they don’t always use them.
Trainers like games
While there may be obstacles to using games and fun activities (see below), the trainers who replied to our article had great things to say about them. The reasons fell into six general categories:
- retention and learning
- fun for learner, fun for the trainer
- engagement, participation, energy
- creativity, generates ideas, expands learning
- relationship between trainer and trainee and between trainees
By far the greatest number of responses to this question related to the power of games to help strengthen the retention of the training session due to the fact that you learn better when you're having fun, because games can promote learning without the student realizing that they're learning with back-door learning.
The trainers understand―both intuitively and through experience―that higher levels of energy and emotion equate to higher levels of learning and retention. As one trainer said, when participants are engaged in an activity requiring their participation, they “can draw on participants previous knowledge and experience,” which provides an important point of reference. This “practical application … makes lessons ‘stick.’” That then leads to ownership—one of the crucial factors for learning application.
Not long ago I had a training leader tell me it was impossible to have a training program that delivered 100 percent engagement. I told her that (at least with our program), it’s not only possible, it’s inevitable.
You agreed! Games are powerful tools for engagement. Many of you told us games “engage the brain,” “encourage participation,” and “add positive energy to preparing the training session.” Games have the potential to “engage some learners that wouldn't be engaged by lecture” and “get people focused” and excited.
You told us that games also “get people to think outside the box” and “stimulate creative thinking.” They “make people more open to learning through new ideas” because they “may generate other ideas or new approaches to a process.”
But trainers don’t always use them…
The reasons for not using games and activities fall into eight categories:
- perception of others
- unfamiliarity, discomfort, personal dislike
- money and resources
- skills and knowledge
Often, it appears, trainers are afraid to use games because of what others may think. The responses included everything from widespread disapproval to individual preference. Some responses, including “company culture not conducive to game playing,” “culture doesn't support fun,” “department thinks they are too cutesy,” “not approved of in a business environment,” and “can't have fun in a training session” suggest a total prohibition from any kind of game or fun activity.
Time constraints were the second greatest category, including both the time for preparation as well as delivery, followed by the concern of relevance. Respondents suggested that they “couldn't think of any that were relevant” or were concerned that the “content does not lend itself to game playing.”
While it can be difficult to find or create a game that does it all by appealing to a wide audience, relating to the topic, and fitting the time constraints, the benefits are well worth the effort. Take it from yourselves! Here’s what you had to say:
- “When we are engaged we learn better and transfer the skills.”
- “Games make the information affect personal perspective; they provide ownership to participants and give participants a way to relay the information to others.”
- “Being engaged is key to knowledge transfer. When learning is perceived as fun, the learner naturally takes in and assimilates more information. When having fun, the learner is less concerned with failing and therefore participates more.”
- “Laughter stimulates the brain.”
- “If the learners are having fun, they tend to retain the training better and longer. It also helps with winning them over so that they are less resistant to mandatory training. This means better evaluations for the training and the trainer!”
DrawSuccess is offering ASTD Links readers a free webinar to learn more about using games in your training? Click here to sign up!
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