New Book: Play to Learn!

I got a present in my mailbox today — it was the paper copy of Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp’s new book, Play to Learn! I’d already agreed to be a stop on their Blog Book Tour, but it’s lovely to have the hard copy in hand.

They based the book on the workshop that Karl and Sharon teach about the topic, which is why (I suspect) the book is loaded with so many interesting activities and worksheets for designing learning games.

They pull off a really nice balance between:

  • referencing the research evidence behind games for learning
  • giving some really great examples of the mechanics of learning games
  • having activities and guidance on how to create your own game

Along with Karl’s other books on gamification, this is a really good practical entry on the topic of learning games. And they have you analyze Plants Vs. Zombies (a personal favorite).

Recommended 🙂

Quick Links

-Sharon and Karl are doing a webinar: Learn more about Play to Learn – Register for Sharon and Karl’s webinar on Tuesday 3/28/17 at 1 pm. In it, they will expand on some of the key learning game design steps covered in Play to Learn. 

You can get the book from ATD Press (there’s a promo code SPRINGBOOKS17 for 10% off) or you can get the book from Amazon

Follow along with the book tour

Date(s) Event / Blog Stop Location
March 3rd Play to Learn available from ATD and Amazon ATD / Amazon
March 3rd Bottom-Line Performance Blog Stop Lessons on Learning
March 3rd Karl Kapp Blog Stop Kapp Notes
March 3rd ATD Learning Technologies Blog Stop ATD Learning Technologies Blog
March 6th Knowledge Guru Blog Stop Knowledge Guru
March 7th eLearning Industry Blog Stop eLearning Industry
March 8th Connie Malamed Blog Stop The eLearning Coach
March 9th David Kelly Blog Stop Misadventures in Learning
March 10th Lou Russell Blog Stop Russell Martin & Associates Blog
March 13th ATD Science of Learning Blog Stop ATD Science of Learning Blog
March 14th Julie Dirksen Blog Stop Usable Learning
March 15th Zsolt Olah Blog Stop Rabbitoreg
March 16th Cammy Bean Blog Stop Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions
March 17th Melissa Milloway Blog Stop Mel’s Learning Lab
March 21st Learning Solutions Conference Orlando, FL
March 23rd-24th ATD Core4 Session Long Beach, CA
March 28th Webinar with Sharon and Karl Bottom-Line Performance
March 30th-31st Texas Distance Learning Association 2017 Conference Galveston, TX
May 3rd Lectora User Conference Cincinnati, OH
May 22nd-23rd ATD International Conference Atlanta, GA
June 20th-22nd FocusOn Learning Conference San Diego, CA

I can put on this tiara, but it won’t make me Wonder Woman (Gameification)

So, one of the biggest issues with games for learning, is that there’s this weird logic out there:

Games are fun + I made e-Learning that looks like a game = Therefore my e-Learning will be fun!Um…no, not necessarily…

As I allude in the title of this post, I can put on the Wonder Woman costume, but that doesn’t mean I can deflect bullets:

(Lest this sound preachy, be assured I have fallen victim to this myself “I’m gonna put power-ups in this course, and it’s gonna be awesome!”).

But one of the beautiful things about the internet is you can find people who are way smarter than you to explain this stuff, as in this presentation about the issues with gameification from Sebastian Deterding (The menu button will let you run it full screen so you can read the small-print commentary at the bottom):

Found this via @hypergogue’s posts (which you can read here) about the Playful conference (really want to make it to that next year).

I’m on a Quest


I’m on a quest for good learning game engines.  When I do talks about games for learning, I always get the question:

“I/we thought that was great! I/we are a 1/2/3 person team, and we just have an lms guy/part time web developer/high school student using dreamweaver/old copy of powerpoint.  How do we do learning games?”

And it’s always hard to know what to tell them.   A quick look around either suggests up Jeopardy-clones or fully 3D rendering engines most appropriate for learning how to spot IEDs in Baghdad.

So, I am looking for learning games that:

1) Do not require a full blown programmer (some technical aptitude is okay)

2) Do not cost a gazillion dollars (preferably a license that is <$1500, ideally a lot less)

3) Are not game-show themed (I like Jeopardy as much as the next trivia geek, but it strips all the context out of the learning experience)

4) Is web-delivered (LMS enabled or SCORM compliant is too much to hope for, I know).

Any ideas?  I think this going to take a while, and intend to review stuff as I find it.