Ken Hubbell’s session on storytelling, gamification, and problem-based learning started with several questions: What’s problem-based learning? What’s in it for the learner? Why is storytelling important?
On Problem-Based Learning…
Problem-based learning is a great framework for helping people learn to work together in teams or work with integrated parts. It’s a concept that’s been around a long time, involving:
- A need to know
- A driving question
- Learner voice/choice
- Inquiry and innovation
- Feedback and revisions
- Publicly presented products
In problem-based learning, the only thing you might achieve is what not to do. Sometimes the answer to a problem-based challenge is simply “I have no idea.” Failure might inform your next set of decisions.
On Gamification and Scenario-Based Learning…
Gamification means integrating gaming dynamics into your site or business in order to drive participation. For those who aren’t very familiar with the dynamics of gaming, Ken drew some connections to learning and training:
- Goals and incentives = levels and points
- Projects and tasks = missions or quests
- Managers, team leads, or SMEs = experience facilitators
On Gamification at Work…
Just like problem-based learning, gamification has been around a long time. “Just ask the Girl Scouts,” he says. Where gamification is paving new ground is as an integral part of business and learning. It’s been historically underused by businesses. “Hire a gamer and he can teach other people. They like to share,” Ken suggests.
How many of us have thought about including points and levels to entice people to participate in work-related challenges? How many of us actually earn points for roleplaying with colleagues to accomplish something at work together? These are classic ways of driving team-based participation.
On Gamification and the Classroom…
Ken showed us a fantastic example of how gamification is used in an elementary school classroom by teacher John Hunter. The game is called World Peace, a four-foot square game board with four levels and hundreds of game pieces. Players work together through the “lens of the economic, social, and environmental crises and the imminent threat of war,” with the goal of eliminating dangerous situations for each country and achieving global prosperity using as little military intervention as possible. (Check out the film trailer here.)
On the Connection Between Story and Instruction…
According to BF Skinner, many instructional arrangements seem contrived. You can adapt story-based learning and replay it in various contexts. The story is a snapshot. A narrative continuously grows and can be dynamic.
What changes a story into drama? Plot, character, thought, diction, music, and spectacle. People think of stories as having a beginning, middle, and an end. The end is a way to let people calm down. Many companies stay in the middle, Ken says, and people burn out as a result.
The main difference between books and problem-based learning simulations: The character can change her mind in a simulation. It begins when something happens, and it may not end at a specific time. Players don’t have to agree on the story as long as they agree on the journey or problem they’re solving. If you play with someone else, you can together solve difficult problems. Only when you fail enough can you figure out the mechanism to succeed.
On the Role of the Experience Facilitator…
In the experiential learning model, understanding the decision-making process of each individual is just as important as the decisions themselves. The role of the “Experience Facilitator” is to:
- Recount the entire adventure through storytelling.
- Cultivate the best user experience by making sure the quietest person in the room participates just as much as the ones who are most vocal.
- Make all equal participants in the story.
On Additional Reading and Inspiration…
Ken recommended a great site for free roleplaying resources. He also suggested further research by reading work by “the king of narrative-centered learning,” Dr. James Lester, a professor at NC State University.