Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Can Video Games Win Points as Teaching Tools?

Here's a nice article from The Association for Operations Management.  One clarifying point to make is that my 25 step factory simulation was created while working at SGS-Thomson Microelectronics.  I built similar simulations for the Logistics and Transportation division at Intel.
I think a key point for corporate training departments to understand is that for knowledge transfer to occur the simulation does NOT need to be of high fidelity.  One of the objects in my 3D space was simply a cube that I called the "notch alignment tool" and EVERY last one of the trainees could transfer that part of the process to the real world "notch alignment tool".  Corporate training departments have small, if not zero budgets for this kind of stuff and we are mostly interested in the knowledge transfer occuring and getting the learners back on the job asap.  So high fidelity like world of warcraft is overkill and simply not necessary.  Actually, I would think that it might be distracting and actually degrade the learning potential slightly. 
Also, when I speak of games in corporate training I am actually referring to the use of game engines to create process simulations.  These would most likely have NO true gaming element.  The power is in the 3D environment and allowing learners to fail repeated at a task over, and over again until they get it right and can do it in their sleep.  Interactive 3D simulations created with these gaming tools can give us that.  The gaming elements can be used for higher order thinking training for floor managers and ground controllers.  These folks are the trouble shooters and their job requires problem solving skills, not just memorizing a process.
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