Using serious games for reflection and evaluation

Today I was asked to design a game that could be used at the end of a 3 day conference and workshop - Friday afternoon - that could help participants reflect on the content, plan for action and give the trainer some feedback on how it had all gone. It was a bit of a challenge! And certainly a different way of getting evaluations and make participants think about HOW they will use what they have learnt.

So often participants pay quite a bit to be at a workshop or conference, but how do we support them to actually make the most out of what they got from the activity?

The trainer and I will be collaborating to refine the plan, but in the process I did a bit of reading to see if anyone else had solved the problem of how to make this work. This journal article was interesting: Serious Games for Reflective Learning – experiences from the MIRROR project  by Pannese L., Prilla M., Ascolese A. & Morosini D (date unknown but is post 2012).

The article talks about using serious games as a tool for reflection and particularly talks about the value of debriefing sessions after a game to make sure they process and think through what they have learnt... and more importantly, how to make it work in the real world.

The purpose of the serious games is to train and educate, to inform, and to change attitude and behaviour. Without reflection, getting to the depths of these purposes is likely to be lost. Having fun and getting into the 'flow' of a game (Csikszentmihalyi (1990) ) is worthy in itself, and when ' activities (that) are optimally challenging and (in which) there are clear goals and feedback, concentration is intensely focused, there is a high degree of control, and users are absorbed to the extent that they lose a sense of time and self... The concept of flow provides one perspective on the feelings of enjoyment and engagement that can be experienced by game users and this can be considered one of the main elements that can contribute to triggering reflection...  A serious game provides unique opportunities to pace the simulated work process and the reflection sessions so as to achieve a good combination of reflection and action based on the learner’s needs. ' (p2)

'...reflection can take place individually and/or collaboratively (Krogstie, 2009)(p3) 'Game debriefing has been found to be a viable mechanism of connecting experiences made in a game to real world contexts (Peters & Vissers, 2004), as learners can use debriefing sessions to engage in discussions and make sense of games experiences together (Ravenscroft, Wegerif, & Hartley, 2007).'(p7). It is at this point that participants often come up with simple fixes to situations that they can easily put into practise in their workplace, and the complex is now looking a lot more do-able, and the time spent playing the game becomes much more valuable and valued by the participants.

So, how might you use games in the workplace to target education, inform new processes or challenge participants to bring valuable innovations and solutions to the team?


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