gamification

How to Inspire and Engage Millennials in your Training Programs

 

There is a new generation taking over the workforce at large. The Millennial, or Generation Y, group has become one of the predominant groups of working adults today. This group of individuals was born between 1980 and 1999. As such, the environment and technology available when they were “growing up” was far different than the previous generations.

Understanding that Millennials respond differently to training modules is the key to successfully engaging them and completing their training. Gone are the days when you could supply your trainees with long lectures and bookwork. This generation of employees needs a far more tech-savvy and interactive experience to stay stimulated and inspired.

The Most Effective Ways to Reach a Millennial

Take advantage of Mobile learning

You will be hard pressed to find a Millennial today that does not have a mobile device. Many of these individuals travel around with more than one, in their daily lives. This is an entire generation who has grown up with laptops, cell phones, smart phones, and tablets. They are incredibly comfortable with these types of mobile devices. In fact, many feel naked without them. If you create training programs that utilize mobile devices, you will automatically increase the level of comfort and interest in this generation.

It's all just a game

Many people have heard the term “Gamification”, though few truly understands what it entails. If you think of Millennials and games in the same context, then you often think of popular gaming systems. Gamification however has nothing to do with Halo or Fallout. The process of Gamification is that of turning an ordinary circumstance into a game or competition. In reality, the Millennial's love of gaming systems has created a highly competitive culture who enjoys a true competition. In a training or educational setting, it is highly beneficial to create a game or competition environment from the lecture material. When a Millennial tries to “win the game”, they are learning your information as a by-product. Their intense desire to succeed evolves into a more thorough grasp of the knowledge.

Go to the Movies

Studies around the world have proven that Millennials are far more accepting of information they receive in a video or movie, then that of a book. If your training can include short succinct movies, your millennial trainees will be far more inspired to learn the material. Visually, a video or movie is going to draw the Millennial in, while long written text is going to dissuade them from interacting. Many people think this is a result of Millennials being the “lazy” generation. However, in truth Millennials are very inquisitive, and don’t want to waste any time. If they can witness a subject, they are more stimulated, and their questions are answered more thoroughly.  DOING is an even better option if training budgets allow…

Try any number of these techniques in your next training session, and you will be amazed at how well you inspire and engage with your burgeoning millennial workforce. Also, allow your Generation Y employees to participate in how the training is delivered. You will be amazed at the creative and inventive ideas they can produce.

HoloLens and What It Means For Learning & Development

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HoloLens coupled with Windows 10 is being pitched by Microsoft, targeted especially for businesses, including the Training Industry. HoloLens promises to change the way daily operations are performed and to provide ease in training as well as new perspectives.

Some of the ways that HoloLens can be used for training include:

  • Skype conversations using HoloLens can allow those taking part to view the same desktop workspace from the same view. This means trainers can see what trainees are doing in real time and instruct them accordingly.
  • Diagrams can be viewed in context with realistic images. Augmented images can be overlaid over real time views of office spaces, work floors, manufacturing lines, and other professional areas.
  • Trainees can tour virtual scenes from a first person perspective. This way, they can get a better feel for what awaits them when they first set foot in a new workplace.
  • Trainers can see exactly what trainees are working on from a remote location, in a much more realistic way than remote access has allowed up to now.
  • Trainers in the seminar context can view the work of participants in a direct and clear way with the participants located all over the globe.

 

Promises Ease and a New Way to Get Training Done

HoloLens is less bulky and more streamlined than Oculus rift in size and appearance. With new applications offered by Windows 10, it can add considerable resources to those previously possessed by the training industry. Better insight into the work of participants during courses, seminars, webinars, and more will mean better success rates and less frustration on the part of distance learners and employees. Online learning, if also employing this technology, could change the success rate for the better. (In the past and present, a lot of online university students complain of little feedback on the part of their instructors. This is due in part to instructors lacking insight on what participants are actually doing. Virtual reality tools such as the Lens could turn this around.)

Skype and Collaboration

Skype conversations could follow with participants seeing into each other’s surroundings and being able to edit one another’s work. For training and collaboration, this is of particular value. Working on models and designs with an interactive context saves time and spares participants of frustration. Course creators can offer trainees specific feedback and look over their work more intensively to be sure they have achieved their goals.

Savvy and Fun for Training

HoloLens has the potential to make the training industry more viable, more interesting and technologically up-to-date with savvy tools that make the process fun. Instead of having the reputation of being necessary for work opportunities and promotions, it could make seminars and training courses a sought after experience involving virtual worlds, interactive contexts, funny scenarios and direct feedback from instructors and course leaders.

A look at Disney Immersive Experiences and What Training Departments Can Learn

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I just got back from Disney World with my family a few weeks ago. It was my children’s (5 and 8 years old) first time there, and watching them experience it all was pure magic! That kind of magic is something we strive for in everything we do at The Danse and encourage our clients to reach for as well.

For decades, Disney has made themselves the forerunner in Immersive experience technology. From the inception of their DisneyQuest programs to the Virtuality developments, Disney has led the way in total Immersive experiences for their customers. The question we are faced with now, is how can a training department utilize the practices Disney has already put in place to develop a more effective training module using immersive experiences?

The Disney Touch

One of the primary ways that Disney allows its guests to have an Immersive experience is through the ability to naturally interact with what you see. When you visit a Disney park, you enter a relatively virtual world. In this virtual world, you are able to manipulate the things around you. This can be scenery or characters. For a child, this is magic. Training departments should take note that the ability to interact is a key to a total immersive experience.

Seeing like Disney

True immersion must include seeing everything as if you’re really standing there.  Disney completely understands this and visually surrounds their guests in their experiences.  At Disney, every ride, show, and game are built all around you, making you feel as if you’re really in another place.  Every video or animation is perfectly captured or created to lend itself to these experiences.

Mickey Ears

At the Disney Parks, and on their rides, sound plays a key part to their Immersive experience. If you were to ride Splash Mountain, your experience would not be the same if you could not hear the interactions of Brer Bear and Brer Fox in the background. These sounds tell us the story while we are queuing and enjoying the ride. As a training manager, you must always remember to keep the sense of sound in the forefront of your training modules.

The Smells of Success and What Magic Tastes like

The Imagineers at Disney have never forgotten two of your major senses, smell and taste. When you enter the Gran Fiesta Tour experience at Epcot's Mexico, you are inundated with the smells and tastes of old world Mexico through the centrally located restaurant. When a guest can not only ride and watch the experience, but also smell and taste it, they are that much more fulfilled. For training departments, the concept is the same. Imagine a waiter trying to explain a meal that they have never tasted. Or imagine a fire chief trying to explain what a diesel fire smells like to a group of new recruits.

Training Benefits for Using the Virtuix Omni

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The Omni takes virtual reality to an all-encompassing new place for more than just games and entertainment.  Gamers can feel immersed in the games they play as the device allows them to move their feet, walk and run along with the program. With the use of Oculus Rift to view their virtual world, the Omni places the user right in the middle of the action. But this is just for starters, as there are applications beyond fun and games that can be extremely useful out there in the real world.

The Virtuix Omni looks like a round treadmill, complete with a railing. The pack for 699 USD includes a special belt and shoes to be used with it. Purchase of the Oculus Rift is separate, but necessary to complete the virtual simulation.

The Omni allows for:

  • More interactive remote employee meetings
  • Virtual exhibitions for on the job
  • Simulations of workplaces
  • Increased ease and realistic simulation of training on the job

Particularly for jobs that are more hands-on, is this last point especially relevant. Instead of training EMTs with dummies, they can run to the scene, check the pulse of their charge, load them into the ambulance, and then drive away. They can practice every aspect of their job using the Omni.

Training for a Variety of Job Fields

Some of the other fields which can benefit from practicing job scenarios using the Omni include:

  • Nurses and nursing assistants
  • Doctors and dentists
  • Engineers and those who deal with hardware
  • Production line workers
  • Those who work in retail
  • Clothing designers
  • Architects
  • Artists
  • Office workers who need to tour new locations in advance
  • Those who need to practice sales and marketing scenarios
  • Those who need training speaking before large audiences
  • Training motivational speaking

 

The Training Benefits for Using the Virtuix Omni are Plenty

Any job with a hands-on aspect can use simulation that incorporates feet and movement, as well as the viewing function (from Oculus Rift). Colleagues can demonstrate job functions from a remote location and have the feeling they are in the room together, handing each other instruments and approaching one another. Despite location restraints, they can have the sort of team building and bonding that was previously only possible in person. This will serve to speed up the training process and optimize employee efficiency and cost effectiveness—in saving money on expensive flights, for example.

Virtual reality is a powerful tool for job training that will continue to be optimized as the technology is developed and made readily available on the market. The Virtuix Omni in conjunction with the headset from Oculus Rift are forerunners for improving the on the job training experience and will surely be fixtures on educating individuals in the future.

Edutainment in Corporations: Liven Things Up

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Edutainment is something that we are all quite familiar with, just think back to your youngest memories of childhood programing: Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, Bill Nye the Science Guy. The list can go on, and you most likely remember them so well because at the time you liked them. Public Broadcasting Casting is known for its educational entertainment for all ages. The concept is now becoming a trend in corporate America. A simple application of edutainment is using animation or interactive graphics in Powerpoint presentations.

The Possibilities of Edutainment for Employee Training

Well-designed Powerpoints that include entertaining design elements are good for short projects or training tasks that don’t over task our attention; but once the amount information begins to rely too heavily on rote memorization, the task becomes burdensome and easily disengaged from. Learning in corporations that require longer periods of time to convey the necessary information can benefit from using different forms of interactive video and animation. Training programs can invest in a creative series of videos that are organized like the chapters of training handbooks. Animated videos don’t need to be the replacement to textual information; they can be supplemental, with the corporation choosing the most important information to include. Pairing videos with text training books decreases the amount of reading so that when the employee does read it is in-between a break by another form of media learning.

Entertaining and Educating Internet Customers About Your Company

Investing in the virtual marketplace is big business now and the website is the storefront. A nice storefront is attractive to customers who have never heard of the product and a good product keeps them inside. A good sales person and manager should know all about the company itself and be able to convey it charismatically and accurately. In the virtual store it depends upon site design and entertaining features like the degree of interactivity and presentation of the information. Anyone with a business wants it to fiscally succeed but also to be known as being a human expression. The entire story should be known to become a part of the community. Successful businesses and organizations become virtual personalities that are relatable and relatively transparent. Edutainment can factor in to developing the virtualized self of a company by engaging successfully with the customer on a personal level instead of solely as a financial exchange.

Gamification within Corporations: Goodbye Casual Friday

What Is This?  

Creating interactive game-styled software designs within corporations looks like it will make work more engaging for employees. As employees we should rightly expect our organization to actively care about creating an engaging environment that doesn’t run us empty; and as administrators of organizations it is also our duty to collaborate with employees. The cliché Casual Friday was once a product of the logic behind boosting employee morale, but it didn’t really stick around long and isn’t applicable across professions. But, the new kid on the block, Gamification, is a lot more promising. Forbes magazine recently wrote:

Given the recent engagement numbers released from Gallup, showing 71 percent of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, gamification is finding its way on the agenda of the Chief Human Resource Officer… Gartner predicts that by 2014, more than 70 percent of global 2,000 organizations will have at least one “gamified” application, which can range from mastering a specific skill or improving one’s health. ‘Gamification: Three Ways To Use Gaming For Recruiting, Training, and Health & Wellness’ – Jeanne Meister

Engaging Interactive Programs and Designs

Corporations that are beginning to use game mechanics within all facets of employee relations are beginning to come up with some successful implementations. Target cashiers are now using interactive software as they scan customer purchases - a light blinks either green or red depending on the speed the item is scanned which are scored for optimal time. Marriott International Inc, beginning to create web-based games similar to the ones used on Facebook, as ways to recruit employees and for other companies, employee training programs and yearly skill reviews are also being gamified. The gaming doesn’t deter using merit rewards as incentives for increasing productivity, but they do drastically rework the way the incentives are presented to the employee. Depending on the type of job and task, the job itself becomes part of a game designed to foster fun for the entire workspace while retaining to competitive bent that drives excellence.

With new technology becoming so accessible such as Androids and other Smartphones among the population, developing mobile gaming software can allow companies to create game-like elements of specific work related tasks beyond an employee’s desk or work station. Sales associates and real estate agents would be a perfect example of employees that would be able to stay in-touch on the job while still being outside the main office. While also driving employee performance, gamification allows for companies to distribute monetary rewards in smaller increments over an entire year or season instead of one lump sum.

New Virtual Horizons: Oculus Rift in Training Part 2

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Oculus VR and the Chocolate Factory

Come with me, and you’ll see, a land of pure 3D animation…

The broader technological applications of Oculus Rift are still in a world of pure imagination, but it is one closer to home than we think and not nearly as strange. While it might be some time before the phrase ‘virtual reality’ becomes a part of everyday training vocabulary, there are still common professional and industrial fields, which sound more domestically familiar than military applications, that will benefit from these new types of devices and software development projects. I’d like to take you on a tour through our societal imagination and look at fields closer to our everyday lives that we might find virtual reality training to be integrating soon.

The Everlasting Energy Industry

As our society furthers its technological advancement, the entire system of energy production will require more advanced training for harvesting raw fuel sources, and machining the devices and infrastructure for processing and distribution. The upkeep of our energy industry technology has some of the most dangerous situations workers voluntarily put themselves in. One example in the fossil fuel industry is hyperbaric wet-welding jobs for oil rigs. These repairs are not situations easy to train for without actually requiring commercial diving on-site practice. Unfortunately the environmental risks are so dangerous that training can’t be a safely controlled space for practicing without still having the possibility of fatal errors. Oculus Rift and immersive training software could provide a safe and adaptive way to simulate the necessary scenarios. The idea can be expanded to imagine VR training programs for high-power linemen, allowing them to simulate transformer disassembly and assembly with 3D interactive parts, without actually exposing themselves to the consequences of deadly mistakes.

Dangerous Recipes: Electrical and Chemical Engineering

The daily environment for electrical and chemical engineers is not a hands-on dominant job, but the dangers lurk in the implementation of the system designs. It is difficult to model large scale systems and actually understand all the potential consequences, so it is usually not until the factories are actually constructed that they can be tested. With the aid of immersive devices like Oculus Rift, factory engineers can explore their 3D designs as if they were walking through the site itself.   Training new engineers on virtual reality construction programs can allow for interactive lessons and easier visualization of complex systems. Interactive problems can be created as 3-dimensionally mapped out factory settings and environments that don’t usually lend themselves to easy training access like micro-processor fabrication plants.

The futuristic horizon of the digital age is growing more and more accessible for society at large as public and private organizations continue to invest in VR technology.

Training Benefits of Mixed Reality Technology

On July 4, 1976, Israeli commandos landed at the Entebbe International Airport, outside Kampala, Uganda, and in under an hour rescued the 100 hostages that were being held there by hijackers. The news of the rescue was met with international astonishment. Without any warning the commandos landed in the in the night, rescued the hostages, and flew back home. Only one commando and four hostages were killed, as opposed to all hijackers and several dozen Ugandan soldiers. A number of Ugandan MiG aircraft were also destroyed. The international diplomatic fervor, which coincided with the US bicentennial, was brought to a screeching halt as Israel thanked everyone and said they had taken care of the problem.

One of the main reasons the mission was so successful was that the special forces combatants chosen for the mission trained for the operation on a reconstructed, full-scale model of the airport. This is how with only a few days to prepare, and despite having never set foot in Entebbe, the rescuers were able to secure the terminal where the hostages were held, use the airport’s fuel facilities, and destroy the squadron of warplanes stationed there. And all this without real-time satellite surveillance.

In their technology quarterly in March, the Economist reported on a variety of training and research platforms—from computer programs to full scale combat training facilities—that are making the tasks of preparing for and carrying out dangerous missions less costly. And not surprisingly, these technologies rely heavily on 3D rendered environments that allow their users to interact with the generated content in varying degrees.

One of the technologies, an interactive program akin to a military computer game, allows strategists to digitally recreate actual battle scenarios (like the Entebbe raid), which can then be reviewed from any angle and replayed with environmental and situational variations that might demonstrate how things could have gone differently. Among the others are simulations that try to test the responses of decisions made by officers under amounts of psychological duress, a NATO network that links 3D training devices, and an interactive virtual battlefield that allows soldiers to train and observers to scrutinize—all with a minimum threat to the people involved.

With a number of countries around the world investing in digital and mixed reality technologies, rescue missions like those at Entebbe may seem less and less miraculous as soldiers can be prepared for a broad number of situations before actually being inserted into a combat zone. But hopefully too, this kind of technology might reduce the need for high-risk combat missions in the first place.

Family Night 2.0- Board Games Meet Augmented Reality

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It may not come as a shock that that someone who writes for a tech blog is a board game connoisseur. Monopoly, Risk, and Avalon Hill’s Gettysburg in childhood made way for Afrika Korps, Warhammer, and Axis and Allies in my teen years. And even geekier titles came later still: Squad Leader, SPQR, and Machiavelli. I would nothing more than to turn this blog into a public forum dedicated to the discussion of which are the best board games and why.

But, as anyone who’s ever been snowed-in with their siblings knows, the fun of board games is a sharp, sharp double-edged sword. Anyone familiar with Kramer and Newman’s game of Risk knows, cheating, dice rolls, and the precise interpretation of games rules (rulebooks often seem inspired by IRS tax-code prose) can ruin a game night. How many movement points does it cost to load soldiers onto a troop transport? How many armies can one free-move at the end of their turn, and how far? Is the banker stealing from the bank? A game of Machiavelli I once participated in included an hour-long argument between two players (both lawyers) over the placement of one piece on the board. I’ll never forget them standing in the dining room, all other players cleared, while they carried on over the rulebook like they were in court.

Well, thanks to Augmented Reality all that may be over. In June, Hasbro announced the release of Monopoly Zapped, a game design that not only utilizes digital technology to clear up the rules, but also includes new features that take game-play from the table top into the cloud. The Hasbro website explains that “The iconic game board and properties you know and love are still there, but this game is also packed with fantastic app-enhanced features!” A video posted on YouTube shows a game rep explaining how Monopoly Zapped combines the game board and the smart phone, utilizing such features as a credit card system that keeps track of players’ bankrolls and side games that allow players to, among other things, break out of jail along instead of paying a fine and throwing dice.

Hasbro isn’t the only company jumping on the AR bandwagon. In January, AppGear revealed a mixed reality game for both the young and the young at heart. Foam Fighters is one of a number of games being released by this company and features collectible products that interact with a smart phone. Miniature WWII era fighter planes are purchased in packets with distinct scannable codes and a special bracket is included that allows the user to mount the tiny plane in front of the device’s camera. When the game is started, the smartphone camera uses the real image of the model and its foreground and then combines that image with the enemy fighters and cloudbanks of the game. Naturally, the player tilts the device to pitch and bank and uses the screen to fire the machine guns. It looks pretty cool. In one demonstration video, a game rep said “and now all my childhood dream can come true.”

These are both interesting moves forward for both board-gaming and Augmented Reality app development. And with the AR market growing, especially in smartphone downloads, these trends are most likely permanent. Augmented reality is already being used for a variety of purposes, from education, to shopping, to safety, but this application, combining old-fashioned board games and cutting edge technology, is a little unexpected and surprisingly effective. It causes one to wonder in what other ways AR might be used in coming years. But more importantly, with smart devices keeping track of the score, it’s heartening to think how many friendships might be saved and cheaters kept at bay on those long winter nights.