Training Industry Magazine - Spring 2014 - (Page 15)
TOOLS IN LEARNING
LE V E L S OF
E N G AG EM ENT
Why incorporate gaming into learning?
The answer is almost always engagement.
And, unlike traditional techniques of
instruction, such as slide lecture or drill and
practice, games are said to engage people in
learning. But, what does that mean?
Engaging game-play transforms consumers of
information into developers of competence.
Games are outstanding platforms for active
learning. Players learn by confronting
problems, making inquiries, experimenting
with strategies, advancing through formative
failures to attain summative success. They
rarely thrive just by following instructions and
doing what's expected.
Games add the not-so-secret sauce of
competition for rewards, situated narrative
and visceral enjoyment. Participants become
more attentive and involved when they have
a tangible stake in the outcome of their play:
to be a winner, to take home a prize.
But we can't leave it there, because
engagement is not a brass ring. You don't
get to grab it in pursuit of operational
excellence. Instead, engagement is a system
and a process that produces different
conditions and outcomes, depending on
how it's generated. You'll need to think about
the level of engagement that serves your
learning objectives, and design a game for
that specific purpose.
According to Erving Goffman's book,
"Encounters, the Sociology of Interaction,"
there are four levels of engagement. In
explaining the dynamics of role play, he
identifies the following:
- ROBERT BECKER, PH.D.
* Commitment. This level occurs when
people perform within impersonally enforced
structural arrangements, such as being
assigned a well-defined task in the workplace
or position on the playing field. They do
what's expected and avoid deviations from
* Attachment. This level occurs when
people express themselves in terms of their
enactment of a role. Some people go so far
as to self-actualize during enactment. This is
how Type-A personalities on the trading floor
and rock stars on stage typically engage.
* Engagement. This normative level occurs
when people "go with the flow" and "get in
the game." They get spontaneously involved
in role-play activities, making wholehearted
investments of attention and muscular effort.
Type-B personalities and athletes engage in
* Embracement. This level occurs when
individuals disappear completely into a
virtual self that has been made available in a
role and situation. They determine to be fully
defined in terms of that image rather than
an authentic self, and to confirm expressively
their acceptance of it.
Each of these four levels of engagement
produces a different class of outcomes. Each
may be generated by the design of work and
learning, but the fourth level, embracement,
is especially rare.
Embracement is the most thorough and
deepest form of engagement. It is the gold
standard in commercial videogames and
T R A I N I N G I N DUSTR Y MA GAZ INE - SPRING20 1 4 I WWW.TRAINI NGINDU S T RY . C OM/ MAGAZ I NE
professional gambling, where the persona is
the person while the game is being played.
Embracement may also occur in elaborate
training simulations, where participants are
completely subsumed in their roles. You
won't hear the word "embracement" uttered
in the training industry, but it's what business
leaders such as Walt Disney and Steve Jobs
meant when they urged employees to live
the brand and manage customer experience.
Serious games and training simulations can
generate all four levels of engagement. The
farther down the list you go, the harder it is
to accomplish. Since some jobs don't require
more than impersonal commitment, for them
the deeper levels may be over the top.
GAMES ADD THE NOTSO-SECRET SAUCE OF
On the other hand, when your goal is for
employees to co-create the roles they
perform and become fully immersed in
playing them - during a mission, on the shop
floor, in front of customers - then gamebased learning provides robust and proven
structures for making it happen.
Robert S. Becker, Ph.D., designs advanced
interactive learning for corporate and
institutional clients. He operates Becker
Multimedia and is an adjunct professor of
serious games and gamification at Elmhurst
College. Email Robert.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - Spring 2014
From Where I Sit
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: Do You Feel Lucky?
Network Performance: The Power of Social Learning and Behavior
Meaningful Work: Not Just for Millennials
Four Levels of Engagement
What L&D Professionals Need to Know about Gamification
Enhancing Learning with Social Media
Gamification in Sales Training: Seven Critical Considerations Before the Games Begin
Let the Disruption Begin: Social Media and the Great Expansion of Enterprise Learning
Learning Made Fun: Gadgets, Games and a Safe Place to Explore
How Silicon Valley Inspired an Era of Social Learning
How Games Drive Learning
Roll the Dice: Learning with Board Games
Casebook: BAE Systems: Speeding the Business of Learning through Collaboration and Knowledge Management
Salespeople, Coaching and Gamification
Three Ways to Make Learning More Engaging
Stop Creating Dysfunctional Relationships with Employees
Training Industry Magazine - Spring 2014