In this modern time driven by technology, instructional designers and eLearning professionals have constantly explored virtual worlds as an effective medium for education. Since virtual worlds provide synched interactions between individuals and the environment, they are considered a powerful eLearning tool. Furthermore, users can easily customize virtual worlds to make them even more effective for online education.
People play games because they are fun and engaging. Games take players to an imaginary world where they take challenges or win over opponents. Instead of just viewing games as an effective way to pass time, they can be viewed as learning events. In a game, learners can achieve high scores by taking on challenges, they are able to take different roles, as well as experiment and see the results.
Gamers are also able to express feelings reflecting on certain situations. Training professionals often offer games to introduce a new learning topic to raise the learners’ interest. A good game design must increase the motivation of the learners, offer a new way of communication and interaction, and provide a complex opportunity to the learners.
So, what is the main difference between gamification, simulations, and serious games? While these terms are often used interchangeably in eLearning, they are not the same.
Gamification is the application of game elements to non-game activities. It is used in processes and applications to increase user engagement and interest through a reward system such as achievement badges, points, levels, progress bar or virtual currency. Simulations, on the other hand, are immersive games that place the learner in a risk-free environment that allows them to engage in an authentic experience contextually demonstrating consequences and benefits. Serious games, also known as game-based learning, combine the immersive experience brought by video games with a certain learning purpose. Serious games use game craft techniques such as Kinect, video game technology, strategy, etc. to teach education and business topics. Most serious games use simulation as the primary method of learning transfer.
One of the rapid tools used to create a customized learning environment is the Caspian’s Thinking Worlds. This tool allows eLearning professionals to design 3D games in first or third person where learners can interact with people, objects and the surroundings.
Caspian’s Thinking Worlds has the building blocks needed to create interactions ideal for learning scenarios. Building 3D learning environments is easy with Thinking Worlds. Even beginners without any knowledge of programming languages can create immersive 3D simulations and games using this software. The tool lets you create an environment for meeting and interacting with other people. You can also have conversations with other learners and perform simple to complex tasks. As an instructional designer, you can use the question screens to create time-based quizzes with the game timers to add challenge for your learners.
Furthermore, with Thinking Worlds, you can create a lively environment by using various sound effects such as the rain or fire and characters that move around and perform various activities. To make your educational game more appealing and engaging, you should give your learners instant feedback about their performance. This can be done by adding a score mechanism to your game, which will allow your learners to see whether they passed or failed the game.
Nowadays, instructional designers are looking for creative ways to present training material to learners. Games and simulations are gaining popularity because they immerse learners in real life situations thus increasing retention of new material. Thanks to the availability of various tools for creating games, eLearning instructional designers can easily present complex information to learners.
In my Instructional Design for ELearning program, I show you how to master your instructional design skills and teach you everything you need to know to become a successful instructional designer.