Off late, my news feeds are flooded with updates on Pokémon Go, in the form of memes/jokes, articles and news. It is clearly a phenomenon sweeping the world. While I follow all of the news with interest, this one article on Forbes.com caught my attention.
The article explores whether addictive games affect workplace productivity and should organizations have formal policy to regulate it. This is an interesting concern, especially for us as we are in the business of play-based learning, be it simulations or serious games.
We often face this concern in the market—should employees be really playing at work? Why should they be engaged in long-duration, replay-able learning formats, when the same knowledge could be disseminated in standard, shorter face-to-face or online sessions?
The answer to that, in my opinion, lies in two considerations:
- Can/should we ignore the smart devices/social media/casual gaming environment?
- Are we looking at training as information dissemination or building skills/thought processes needed to respond well to various work situations?
An Unavoidable Reality
Smart devices and the fantastic things one can do on them are here to stay. And as L&D professionals, we are operating in this world and competing for mindshare/attention share with all the cool experiences that employees are otherwise exposed to.
Do we really want to make training the fuddy-duddy country cousin? Is it even viable not to keep pace with the world?
The article I mentioned above makes an important point—there has been no data so far to prove that playing really affects productivity. Reasonable and responsible adults know how to balance priorities.
It makes better strategic sense to embrace the new reality and deliver memorable, engaging and effective training to employees. Organizational learning would be the better of it.
A Deeper Learning
When it comes to learning, it always boils down to the training goals. Research has been showing, for almost a decade now, that “playing” in a virtual world is probably the most effective and risk free way of learning mission critical skills and thought processes.
Immersive, model-based or game-based plays can deliver impact that other modes cannot match. They are also very engaging, which means that they help the training equity to grow. This article gives a detailed overview of the what, why and how of play-based learning, for further reference.
Having spent time on both the client and service side, I know that the success of any such play-based intervention is entirely dependent on the implementation: How well does the L&D function promotes, executes, debriefs and measure before/after parameters.
In conclusion, play-based learning has become an inevitable addition to the L&D repertoire, to be relatable and relevant to your employees and business. Rather than being worried about whether it makes learning frivolous, professionals would be better served to leverage its strengths.
- By Priya Thiagarajan, VP – Simulations and Serious Games