Monday, January 7, 2008

Serious Games

If you have read my previous posts Proving ROI in Training and One small step for eLearning, a giant step for the company you know that we are focusing on improving product knowledge amongst our sales staff. One of the methods I decided to implement to improve this deficit in product knowledge is online games. Luckily I don’t work for one of those organizations scared of the word “Game” so I did not have to overcome that objection.

I used Quia to create a few games that resemble “Who wants to be a millionaire” and “Jeopardy” which turned out to be a smash hit amongst the sales staff. Prior to the games it was always memorizing info from documents and flash cards then being tested on it. They loved the fact that they didn’t have to read the same thing over and over in an effort to memorize the information, to only find out that they didn’t retain much come test time.

Being that sales people are generally competitive, they loved that they were able to challenge each other to a game. They were so distracted with beating their co worker that they forgot they were actually studying and learning. Several inventive sales leaders developed round robin tournaments and awarded the winner with a free lunch. Overall it was a smash hit because it was a fun and different way to approach a boring subject.

I received several emails on the first day of the games being available asking when I was going to add new questions and games since they almost have all of the current questions memorized. I wasn’t expecting this but the games were so popular that they are already stale after just a couple of days.

So I am already to the point where I need to create more games and freshen up the current ones with new questions. The only problem is that it was not easy coming up with the questions and it’s going to be hard for me to come up with more.

I have decided that I can kill 2 birds with 1 stone by having the sales staff come up with the questions and submit them to me so I can use them for more games. Not only does this make it easy for me but they will retain more by creating the questions then they will by playing the games. The process of thinking it through and coming up with questions is sure to help them memorize the information.

But how do I get them to put in the effort to create new questions that are of high quality? What’s in it for them? Being that they are commission driven sales people it may be most effective to compensate them somehow. I am pondering devising some kind of contest or reward system to incentivize it. But, is that even necessary? Is there a way I can motivate them to put in the effort required to create new questions without rewarding them monetarily?

Once I figure out a way to motivate sales people to submit questions to me I will be looking into expanding my game creating from just Quia to other resources listed at the link below. I came across this link from a post on Brent Schlenkers blog Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development blog

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