Monday, February 23, 2009

Custom Game Shows: The Seagate Case Study

LearningWare is pleased to be not just the provider of game show software, but also of solutions. LearningWare can create interactive solutions (with game shows or not) for your training session, curriculum or event through our LearningWare Services division (in partnership with its sister company, Live Spark). What follows is one example of LearningWare creating a custom game show to suit the needs of the trainer.
Summary: Seagate needed a way to engage their audience in traditionally dry breakout sessions. Live Spark created three different custom audience-response game shows that were played in each of the three breakout sessions throughout the session. The games were not only well received, but the audiences’ attention and retention of the material soared; as did the energy of both the presenters AND the attendees.

Overview: Seagate was getting all their local and international sales reps together for a large annual event. Part of this event included 90-minute workshops training on everything from product roadmaps, to new product introductions and sales strategies. Audience members cycled through the four major workshops in regional groups; from the Americas, to Europe, to Asia to Canada.

Issues: The extended workshop sessions were trying on the attention span of the attendees. A large amount of very important information needed to be presented, so presenters were scheduled back-to-back, giving attendees very little time to process and absorb the information. This was not conducive to learning.

Pile on top of that the fact that a lot of the material was very technical and could be dry. It was a recipe for attendees to check out of the breakout and check their Blackberries instead.

Solution: Live Spark designed three unique audience-response game shows that took place throughout three of the breakout sessions. They were a baseball-themed game, a quick-quiz game, and a “Get Smart” game.

Each audience member had a keypad waiting for them when they walked in the door. Depending on the game type, audience members were either playing individually (with the score of the highest keypads winning the game) or on teams. The games were introduced first thing, and a sample question was played.

After every presenter, a game show session took place. The content for the game show was based on the presentation the attendees had just heard—with the exception of the final round at the end of the workshop; which was a compendium of questions.

Why it worked: When the first question of the first round was played, and the audience found out how they scored in a dramatic, building fashion, the room erupted into cheers—led by the team with the highest score on that question. The energy, instead of draining with each progressive speaker, was refreshed and renewed in between every presentation. Not only that, but speakers highlighted the content that was going to be in the game show later—bringing out key points that were reinforced through the highly emotional game show experience.

Everyone in the audience was engaged. They were engaged during the game show--each playing along with their own keypad—but, perhaps more importantly, they were engaged DURING the speaker presentations. No one, after all, wanted to miss a question in the game show because they failed to hear a fact or key point during the presentation.

Because game shows are a somewhat-universal medium, there was no difficulty getting even international groups to play along.

Reactions: Seagate--the speakers, audience members, and organizers—were extremely happy with the game show.

”I didn’t believe you when you said they’d start cheering with the first score,” an event organizer remarked, “But this is simply amazing. Everyone is engaged.”

Audience members, knowing the next workshop was going to contain a game of some sort, were a-buzz in the hallways, talking with their peers about which session they had just come from; what game they played, who won, and which questions stumped them.

It was the most widely successful breakout session event that Seagate had ever had, and we’re happy to report that there was a distinct lack of Blackberry-checking.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Top 5 Ways to Increase Assessment Scores Using Game Shows.

Game shows are a fun addition to a training session. There’s no doubt that they increase trainee engagement, excitement and the energy level in any session. But let’s get down to brass tacks here—having fun for fun’s sake isn’t enough. Game shows have been proven to increase trainees’ assessment scores and content retention on job-critical evaluations. Here are some tips to ensure that you get real results from your game show.

1. Use Game Shows to Review Information.
To review your content, play a game show at the end of each content module. Let trainees know beforehand that they’ll be playing a game show, and highlight which pieces of information might show up in that game show later. Before an exam, create a game show with questions from all different content areas to both energize your trainees, and refresh their memories. Word the questions in your game show in the way they will be asked on a evaluation to prepare trainees for the exam format. Try Categories for quick fact-based reviews.

2. Add Additional Information and Multimedia.
Add multimedia to your game show to enhance and add information. Giving trainees a picture, sound or video clip to associate with a piece of information will help them recall facts when it comes to evaluation time. Trainees’ attention is at its peak directly after a question has been answered—they’re curious about the topic and ready to hear more. Make sure to use this time to add additional information, expand on your material, clarify a point, or clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings.

3. Make a Game Show “Open Book”.
Use the game show to give your trainees a starting point for their own practice or home studying. Familiarize trainees with their manuals, books, catalogs and other training materials by allowing them to use them during the game show. This type of game show is less about knowing facts, and more about finding answers quickly and reinforcing the places in training materials where trainees should look to review content.

4. Focus on the Material.
Quick fact-based reviews are great right before an evaluation when trainees have done most of their own review. However, to reinforce and uncover knowledge gaps you’ll want to play a slower-paced game that allows trainees to discuss and focus on material for an extended period of time. Short-answer and role-play questions in a Tic-Tac-Toe or Knowledge Bowl allow you to foster discussions and brainstorming around a topic. Trainees will also gather an understanding of what they don’t know, or need to focus on in their own time.

5. Play in Teams.
Use the power of peer learning to help trainees gather information that they’re missing and share their own knowledge with their peers. Playing in teams instead of as individual contestants allows trainees to discuss answers and focus on content without feeling singled out. A game show is a great complement to work review groups as well—a few trainees can play a game show on their own instead of in a large group.

Bonus Tip: Ease text anxiety. Play a quick-fire review game immediately before taking an examination. This shows trainees how much of the content the actually DO know—relieving some fears--and brings the information to the front of their thinking. This is particularly beneficial in job-critical tests where high stakes can lead to high anxiety.

Additional Resources:
We have a great network of trainers that advise and give feedback on using game shows in their training. Here is an independent study sent in by Candace Armstrong—a Trainer and user of LearningWare’s Gameshow Pro:

Candace took several groups of trainees and divided them into two categories: Trainees who would review for a critical exam with Gameshow Pro, and those who would review without Gameshow Pro. Candace conducted a review for both groups. She used the same questions, worded in the same way—the variable factor was putting the questions into a Gameshow Pro game, or reading them orally.

The results? 63% more people passed the exam reviewing with Gameshow Pro, the passing scores in this group was also higher-as were the overall scores.
"Playing the game really makes a difference," says Candace, "I have had many students tell me after the exam that they would never have passed without playing the review game. They could even remember who answered what question and whether or not they answered it correctly."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

5 Ways to Use Game Shows Outside Your Training Classroom

Game shows are effective training tools inside your classroom, but they’re also extremely versatile. We’re always amazed at the new ways trainers find to use Gameshow Pro (and other game show products) in their businesses—and even their daily lives. Game shows aren’t just for entertainment anymore—but they’re also not JUST for training in the classroom!

1. Large Events
Game shows are a wonderful, “show stopping” element in a large event (like a large annual sales or training meeting). Use a game show after keynote speakers/presenters to both perk-up the audience and cement the presentation content in their heads, preparing them for what they’ll hear next. We’ve done large events where we’ve had a game show running throughout the day (or multiple days). The element of competition keeps audience members engaged, and being divided into teams to play the game show prevents them from getting lost in a sea of attendees. Game shows are also fantastic as a stand-alone element within a presentation or as part of a breakout session.

2. On the Web
If you frequent our site, you’ll notice our webinars. We use game shows in webinars to keep attendees engaged and to review webinar content. (In fact, if you’d like to see an example of game shows being used in this way, sign up for a webinar!) If your company does online training, using a game show over the web can have the same positive effect as using a game show in your training classroom—engaging all participants, increasing content retention, and motivating trainees to pay attention to the rest of the training. Game shows can also be used in a sales webinar for your company’s product to review benefits and features or to recap the sales presentation in a unique and inventive way that your customers are sure to remember.

3. Co-worker Gatherings
We’ve had customers send us their stories about using game shows for everything from annual corporate retreats and company holiday parties, to employee orientations and fundraisers. Game shows can be an opportunity to let your company shine by incorporating company information into a just-for-fun game show. Your employees learn more about the company and get to network and interact with their peers all in a low-pressure game show environment. A game show is the hit of a party, and it’s a fast and easy way to create an entertaining event.

4. Sales Presentations
Put a game show in your sales personnel’s toolkit and they’re ready to sell in a way that is unlike anything else your customers will have seen. You can do a little bit of research on a client and create a game show around their company to break the ice. You can also use a Classroom Feud-type game to create curiosity and a sense of need around your product. For example, if you were selling printers, you could have customers answer the question: “What are the top 5 complaints that most companies have with their printing service?” This can lead into a benefits-selling strategy for your salesperson based on how the clients have answered the question.

5. Family Events
As long as you’re already familiar with game shows, you can take them outside the corporate world and into your family events (including reunions, weddings, baby showers, etc.). For instance, a colleague of ours was getting married. He wanted a unique way to engage guests at his wedding reception so they would have fun and learn more about the happy couple. In each invitation to the wedding, he and his bride-to-be included a survey with questions like: Where do most couples meet, how long are couples together before they get married, etc. They compiled all the responses they received and put them into a Classroom Feud game show. Guests had to guess the top answers from all the questions. At the reception the bride’s family was pitted against the groom’s family, and the game show was played without a hitch and with only minimal cheating on the groom’s side.

Bonus Use: Almost anything.
You’ll find that when you start using game shows, you’ll love them so much that you’ll be able to find uses for them anywhere. We had one trainer who had his class build game shows to sharpen their computer skills (importing and exporting graphics, files, pictures, sounds, etc.). At the end of the course, they had a game show that they could use in their OWN training class with their own content. You can also have your trainees build games to use with the other trainees in the same class—further emphasizing the training content.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Using Game Shows for Brainstorming

The conventional way to play game shows in a training session is in a fast-paced, question-and-answer format. This is a great way to review material already covered, but game shows can also be used in a less traditional way: for brainstorming. Sometimes you want trainees to build on each other’s answers, think about questions, and come up with innovative ideas—and you can do this within the format of a game show.

Most game shows will need to have rule modifications in order to be good vehicles for brainstorming. Not all game shows are suitable for brainstorming even with modifications. We’ve found the following three game shows to be most amenable to a brainstorming format:

Family Feud:
Instead of going down a line of contestants and having each one give an individual answer, show the question to each team and allow them to brainstorm. Have them record and rank their possible answer options. An answering team reads through their communal list. If they can uncover all the answers before getting three strikes, they win the round; if not the other team can steal with one of their highest-ranked answers. After the round is over, ask teams to reveal their other brainstormed answers and discuss.

Utilize one central question (or a few main questions) for every square instead of having a different question for each square. Allow teams to collaborate on an answer for a specified amount of time. Take turns picking a square, then revealing a brainstormed answer.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire?:
There are two ways to make this game into a brainstorming session. Option number one: both teams can brainstorm answers, and the team with the most options or the most relevant answers gets to move up the ladder. Option number two: require a certain number of answers for a question or topic. If the team achieves that number of reasonable answers, they reach the next rung of the ladder.

Questions for Brainstorming
Use open-ended questions for brainstorming as opposed to multiple choice or even short answer. An example of an open-ended brainstorming question could be, “What makes a good staff leader?”

It can be difficult to assign right or wrong answers to a brainstorming question, making scoring more complex. You can assign a suggested correct answer with a few words of encouragement; and then award points based on the number of relevant answers, or the thoroughness and effort put into answering a question. Points can also be awarded only to the team who comes up with the most answer options or has the most complete answers.