Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Simply Having a Wonderful Game Show Time

Here's an idea: A Virtual Holiday Party.

We all want to connect with our family, friends, co-workers and other loved ones over the holiday season. (Or at least some of the above.) However, distance, travel, time and budget often prohibit us from having everyone we want come to the holiday festivities.

Recently, we attended a virtual holiday party held by speaker/author/trainer/guru/wonderwoman Lou Russell. Since she couldn't get all her friends, clients and co-conspirators together, she hosted the party online.

Of course, the question comes up: how does one create a party atmosphere in a virtual environment?

Interact-interact-interact! Lou hosted a variety of party games. Using collaborative webinar technology, attendees could decorate a Christmas tree, play the dreidel game, list thoughts of community and family for Kwanzaa--and even play a holiday trivia smackdown (including Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Festivus questions)!

The latter was played using AllPlay Web--our software that lets you create and play game shows in a real-time webinar environment. The webinar audience (of about 100) was divided into two teams--the elves and the reindeer. Each person had a virtual keypad on their desktop that allowed them to answer the game questions. The reindeer triumphed in the end (despite a valiant effort from the elves), but everyone interacted and had a festive holiday competition.

The virtual holiday party was a fabulous idea for getting everyone together. In fact... hmm... we might "borrow" that idea for next year. :)

If you want to get a taste of the holiday competition, you can play our QuizPoint holiday game--using many of the same questions that were played during the virtual party. Just click here and good luck!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You're Using a Game Show for THAT?!

When we talk to customers, we're always surprised at the broad range of content/material they incorporate into the game shows.

We were even more surprised as we uncovered that some trainers were using game shows to cover very traditionally sensitive/serious topics: sexual harassment, diversity training, etc. Topics where one wouldn't normally see people cheering, or --heaven forbid-- having fun.

I asked one trainer--a coordinator for student living on a college campus--why they were using game shows to train students on recognizing and reporting sexual assault. This was his response: "The subject is very serious and VERY important. However, we need to have an open dialog about it, and playing the game show diffuses the tension inherent in the room. People feel more open."

Here are some of the reasons why playing a game show with sensitive subject matter can be beneficial:

Your content is serious, but YOU don't have to be. Just because the content is serious, doesn't mean you have to take yourself seriously. It's okay to have fun--even in sensitive situations. Obviously, one doesn't want to be irreverent to the point of offensiveness--and pre-framing so that the content isn't trivialized is important--but adding competition to engage the audience is no crime.

The more important the subject, the more important the retention. It's critically important that employees know how to recognize harassment in the workplace. If the training is not engaging, they're less likely to remember the content. Game shows are a proven strategy for increasing attention and retention. Even though the content is serious, having a dry, non-engaging training session may jeopardize the content itself.

Games diffuse tension. No one likes to talk about personnel issues, for instance, but sometimes an open dialog is absolutely necessary. The friendly competition of playing a game breaks the ice and diffuses the tension in the room; allowing a trainer to segue into a deeper discussion.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Top 5 Reasons They're Not Answering Your Game Show Questions

It's game time. Your game show is all ready to go. The content is in place, the ring-in devices are handy. You read the first question and. . .

. . . no one is ringing in to answer. The answer timer counts down in silence (with maybe a little prompting from the host; "Anyone? Anyone know the answer? Ring in..."). You reveal the answer and move on to the next question, thinking it's a fluke response. Again, the proverbial crickets chirp in place of audience responses!

So what happened? Game shows are pretty much guaranteed to generate energy and excitement in the classroom. Are your trainees just really, really shy? Out of coffee? Something else?

Here are the top 5 reasons we've found for the occasional audience-wide silence in response to game show questions.

1. The questions are too tough. Complexity is not a question's friend. If it takes contestants too long to process what you're actually trying to ask--the clock is going to tick away with nary a response. Avoid the complicated word-problem questions, questions that actually ask multiple questions (or ask you to fill in multiple blanks) or questions with many layers of information or qualification required.

Similarly, if it takes contestants too long to figure out a difficult solution to a question, the question should either be simplified or used in a less rapid-fire format. (I.e. Instead of a Categories-style game, an untimed Tic-Tac-Toe game might be more appropriate.)

Once, we had a presenter who spoke for 90 minutes and then wanted to play a game show to review her content. When the time came for the audience to answer the questions, no one was ringing in. She had covered the content, but it was too complex for the audience to absorb without a simpler review.

Tip: Questions should be not-too-easy (there needs to be some challenge) and not-too-tough (allowing the contestants to grasp the concepts).

2. The content wasn't covered.
This is the sister problem of the questions being too tough--if only because content that wasn't covered and isn't with the knowledge base of the audience IS technically too tough.

We once created a game for a training course. It was the first time we had given this course, so we only had a rough idea of the timing. We ended up running long, and had to skip almost the last third of our presentation. We didn't, however, want to skip the energizing post-session game show. As could be expected, the first 2/3 of the game show went really well. . . and the last third had us pleading, "I know we didn't cover this, but try to take a guess?"

Tip: This is where the "end game" feature comes in handy if you're using Gameshow Pro. You can also turn the game show into an open-book game if your trainees have access to materials you haven't reviewed yet.

3. The contestants don't understand the rules. We were once playing a Jeopardy!-style Categories game. A team selected the category and point value. The question was read. No one rang in. When the time ran out, we asked if anyone wanted to take a guess at the answer. As it turns out, the other (non-category-selecting) teams KNEW the answer, but thought that ONLY the team in control of the board was eligible to answer the question. Oops.

Explaining the rules clearly and up front is critical to the success of your game show. If you're using ring-in slammers, the contestants might not know *when* they can start to ring in, or who should ring in, or whether they can ring in after a team answers correctly, or how long they have to decide to ring in, etc.

Tip: Cover the rules after you introduce the game and the stakes--attention will be at its peak. Also, it's helpful to play a sample question to familiarize the audience with how the game is played.

4. Too much pressure. Your whole audience might not be shy, but chances are you'll have a mix of introverted and extroverted people. Playing individualistically can cause particular people to "opt out" of playing the game for fear of embarrassment or simply because they don't want the spotlight on themselves.

Tip: Playing in teams instead of individually is tremendously helpful in mitigating the pressures and stresses that some people may feel. There is an accountability to one's team, but not having the direct responsibility of standing up and giving an answer can be an enormous relief. You may want to designate an outgoing team captain to be the mouthpiece of the group; that way everyone can contribute but only the person who feels comfortable speaking up will be required to do so.

5. Too much risk. You're playing a Jeopardy-style categories game. You've been deducting points for incorrect answers. The scores are very close. It may be a difficult question--one that's worth a lot of points.

The team in the lead doesn't want to give up that lead, and the teams behind them don't want to lose ground. No one wants to take the risk of answering the question, so they let the time slip away. No one gains any points, but no one loses anything, either. This is a somewhat-rare phenomenon, but it does happen.

Tip: Incorporate chances to "catch up" inside the game--like extra bonus and wager questions, or just extra credit things that people can do for extra points.

You may also choose to deduct FEWER points for an incorrect answer than the question is worth. (I.e. Set the penalty at 50 points for each question, whether they're worth 200 points, or 1000.) This way the reward is greater than the risk. You may also set the game to take NO point deductions for wrong answers, if you so desire.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Training Just Got More Exciting: LearningWare Releases Gameshow Pro Version 5

LearningWare; Minneapolis, MN.  November 1, 2010: LearningWare, the experts in using game shows for training, is pleased to announce the release of Gameshow Pro Version 5. Gameshow Pro version 5 combines 7 different Hollywood-style game show templates with LearningWare’s popular AllPlay assessment software functionality. This means that trainers can quickly create their own Hollywood-style game shows in their classrooms using their own content for preview, teaching, review, assessment, energizers and more.

Using game shows in training is one of the most effective ways to increase content retention. The competition and game show experience provides a unique way to engage every trainee in a classroom; reinventing the sometimes-dry or dull training experience. Gameshow Pro is already in use in over 35,000 classrooms by trainers worldwide, and is loved by both trainers and trainees alike.

First launched in 1995, Gameshow Pro is now being released in its 5th version. It features 7 different TV-style game formats—one more than the previous release. The addition of AllPlay functionality means that each player can answer game questions using their own audience response keypad—for accurate tracking and assessment—OR players can use slammers to ring-in as a team for an exciting game show experience.

“The new release of Gameshow Pro 5 is a game-changer. Never before has it been so easy to bring game shows into the training classroom,” says Dan Yaman, President and Founder of LearningWare, “Not only does this give much-needed innovation to the industry, but it isn’t just a step forward—it’s a leap.”

The new release is a more full-bodied and powerful training tool, and it still retains its easy-to-use format. New and exclusive features include:

     AllPlay assessment capability.
     14 new game board designs—redesigned to range from corporate-sleek to Hollywood-splashy.
     A robust question library with superior search-ability and sort-ability that makes it even easier to organize content.
     Expanded ready-to-use sound and graphics libraries.
     A redesigned interface that makes the game more intuitive than ever to use.
     And many, many more.

People interested in getting a free 30-day trial to Gameshow Pro can visit www.learningware.com/gameshowpro.html

For more information on the newly released Gameshow Pro Version 5, please visit www.learningware.com, and call 1.800.457.5661 or email info@learningware.com.

Since 1995, LearningWare (www.learningware.com) has been producing software templates that have been proven to increase content comprehension and retention. They are the leading providers of game show software, and have products that include Gameshow Pro 5, QuizPoint and  AllPlay Web.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gameshow Pro 5 Exclusive Features.

Gameshow Pro 5 has a lot of exclusive features that you won't find in any other product. Here are just a few of our exclusive innovations--designed to make the software more functional for trainers and useful for learning. Take a look:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Gameshow Pro 5 Preview!

Gameshow Pro 5 is just moments away from release, and we are SO excited about the new version of our industry-leading product.

As Dan Yaman, our President and Founder says, "This is not only our most innovative software, but it's leaps and bounds above anything else that might be out there."

So what's new with Gameshow Pro--version 5? Let's take a journey in pictures!

New GSP5 Opening Screen
 We've re-designed Gameshow Pro 5 from the ground up. You'll notice that the logo looks different from any other product.

Throughout Gameshow Pro 5, you'll find cleaner, more modern, professionally designed graphics.

This isn't just beauty for beauty's sake, however. The graphic re-fresh also comes with increased ease-of-use, simplicity in form and an overall-intuitive feel.

GSP5 Back End
The "back end" of the product has also been completely redesigned. This is what the user sees when they are creating a game.
GSP5 Back End--Game Library

A few important feature highlights:
• It's now easier to switch between games, or to choose to only see one game at once (or all of your games).
• The question library is now beside the game questions--making it easier than ever to drag-and-drop questions for fast game creation.
• Tabs are now clearer and easier to navigate, improving the overall user experience.

GSP5 Question Editor
We've also improved the question editor, making it easier than ever to modify the layout of your question, the size and style of your text, your intro hint and info screens, and more.

Gameshow Pro 5 exclusive features include the ability to:

• Modify picture size and layout within the question.
• Manually or automatically size text.
• Add, edit and select to use or not use intro, hint and info screens.
• Select to add graphics, video and sound that you've already imported, or import new media.
• Add question description, topic AND difficulty level for super-easy sorting and sharing.
• Preview the entire question--graphics and all-- before playing the game.
GSP5 Graphic Library
We've increased the functionality of the user's graphic library--making it easier than ever to rename, sort, find, and re-use your graphics. No need to re-import if you want to re-use a graphic--they're all right there in an easy-to-access, easy to sort library.

Tic Tac Toe Title Screen
Are You Smarter Than.... custom title screen
 It isn't just the back end that's had a makeover, we've drastically changed the graphics in the games--including adding dozens of new title screen templates.

Users can still add their own graphics, put text over their own graphics, customize one of our templates AND they can now use any of these professionally-designed title screens.

Smack Down custom title screen
Some of the new game screens.
 In addition to the title screens, the game boards themselves have been redesigned for a fresh, clean look. These game "skins" allow trainers to have a variety of different looks--from corporate-sleek to Hollywood-style splashy--that they can change on a game-by-game basis. Classic game boards are also available.
The class list in AllPlay mode
Re-designed AllPlay screen
 Oh, and did we mention...there are now 7 different games in Gameshow Pro 5?

AND we've incorporated AllPlay functionality into the software? This means that each player can answer game questions using their own keypad—for accurate tracking and assessment—OR players can use slammers to ring-in as a team for an exciting game show experience.

Tic Tac Toe in AllPlay Mode
Currently our Categories, Tic Tac Toe and AllPlay games have AllPlay functionality--designed from the ground up to work perfectly with the natural game play of those programs. Assessment…review…preview…instruction…and more… Gameshow Pro 5 is the most advanced, easy-to-use, exciting and effective game show template software available!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Engaging Participants in OSHA Training

OSHA (Occupational Safety Hazard Association) training is the mandatory standard in many industries where being improperly trained can mean the difference between life and death. Or at the very least, between safety and injury.

Proper instruction doesn’t just mean conveying information, it means making sure that you’re training in a way where content is going to be remembered.

But the problem is that OSHA training is often dry. OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 courses can cover topics like fall protection, handling of waste and chemical materials, biological hazards, disaster recovery and many, many more. Some of which may require trainees to sit through the same courses or be recertified year after year.

So if the content is critical, but making the training engaging is challenging—what is the solution?

Deb Hilmerson, of Hilmerson Safety, came up with an answer while conducting large safety and OSHA training seminars:

“We all know the challenges of keeping learners interested and engaged in safety and health training programs. To add some fun, entertainment and help engage learners, I started using game shows built around my content.”

Using game shows within such serious training modules as OSHA may not seem obvious, but game shows capitalize on competition to drive learning and captivate trainees’ attention—dramatically increasing participation, engaging their emotions and motivating them to explore content.

Dan Yaman, of LearningWare, elaborates:

“Game shows take an ordinary training session and turn it into something extraordinary. More than that, game shows create an engaging, lively classroom environment.”

If a trainer can engage their trainees at a higher rate during a training session—more of that critical information is going to be retained.

This is why Hilmerson Saftey partnered with LearningWare to create OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 games. These game show modules are ready-to-go--alleviating hours and hours of content development. Question content has been organized into “libraries” based on standard subpart topics such as fall protection, scaffolding, hazard communication, HAZWOPER and many more. Each question is painstakingly crafted to include multimedia, extra information, AND align (with citation) with the required industry standard.

OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 games are built using LearningWare’s Gameshow Pro template software, which already being over 35,000 classrooms worldwide, and is prominent in safety training. Used to preview, present and review information, Gameshow Pro has been shown to increase content retention by over 60% and has received rave reviews from trainers, trainees and corporations alike.

OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 ready-to-play games for construction will be available shortly. For inquiries, contact info@learningware.com.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Brain-Based Webinars Session

Hey everybody! You're cordially invited to a webinar we've developed and are hosting through one of our technology partners, omNovia.

Hosted by Dan Yaman, this is a best-practices webinar that both demonstrates and illustrates how to engage the brain for a truly effective webinar. It also features our AllPlay Web technology in action--so sign up, stop in, play a game, learn a lot and have fun!

When: September 23, 2010 1:00 PM

Description: There’s a wealth of research on how the brain best receives and retains information. This knowledge is key to conducting a webinar that is truly effective.

This entertaining and interactive presentation will focus on the latest brain-based research; illuminating the science behind conducting a webinar that:

• Engages your webinar audience and keeps them engaged throughout your presentation.
• Leads the audience through a natural learning cycle that will help them to understand and better retain the information.
• Utilizes “brain-friendly” graphics.
• Provides methods of interaction that go beyond polling.

You’ll also be exposed to examples of how to use multimedia, stories, case studies, etc. to add variety and novelty for a truly fun and memorable webinar experience.

Most importantly, you will leave with a deeper understanding of how to communicate to the brain for immediate webinar improvement.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Happy Accident for AllPlay Web Webinars

We were asked to sit in on a customer's webinar (where he was going to be utilizing AllPlay Web).

He wanted to do a discovery run (not even as polished as a dry run) to figure out how his content should flow, which slides should go where, and when to play which questions in the course of the webinar. (The screencap on the side is one of his AllPlay Web questions.)

And--as with any first time--there were some hiccups. We found ourselves seeing some of the questions only to have our host say, "Whoops, I haven't covered that yet!" and switching quickly back into the content. However, two things happened:

1. We were surprised how competitive we got, considering that we had NO knowledge of the dry topic. We really focused in on the details and data of the webinar--knowing that things may be covered later. We found ourselves taking notes (with specific details of content WE DIDN'T CARE ABOUT) in order to get correct answers.

2. Related to the mistake of showing questions before their time: We became laser-focused in on that content. We knew we were going to find the answer somewhere in the webinar material coming up, so we payed extra-close attention to getting those questions answered.

So what are the implications of our accidental discovery?
  • It's definitely important to pre-frame the game at the beginning of the webinar. Tell the participants right away that they'll be playing a game--competing against each other.
  • There's really no substitute for competition. We felt compelled not just to interact (i.e. like with polling) but to get the *right* answer to demonstrate our attention. There was skin in the game, so to speak.
  • It's not a bad idea to preview which questions are going to be in the game before the content is covered. Especially if there is content you want to be sure to focus on or highlight. It's not tipping your hat, it's shifting the attendee focus to the most important place.
Time and time again, we're surprised by the amazing experience that we have as *participants* using our products. What we mean is, we spend a lot of time testing and practicing internally, but there's really no substitute for the real-world experience of the game shows--and seeing the absolute joy and effectiveness they bring to a webinar or training session.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Custom! Custom! Custom!

Wow! Whoever coined the term "lazy summer" sure wasn't talking about us over here at LearningWare.

You may have noticed that our blog and Facebook page has been updated a little sporadically over August so far, and there's a reason for that: We've been on the road--creating and producing custom audience-response game shows!

If you're following this blog, you're (probably) already familiar with our Gameshow Pro classroom game show solution, as well as our webinar solution (AllPlay Web), assessment solution (AllPlay) and our online solution (QuizPoint). What makes the custom game shows different from our off-the-shelf software listed is that they're completely redesigned from the ground-up with custom graphics, programming, game play, etc.

Here are just a few of our summer highlights:

"The Fairway 2 Heaven"
[Image seen above]

We traveled to Pebble Beach, CA to produce the "Fairway 2 Heaven"--a themed game show event that took place during their Circle of Excellence. The game had custom golf-themed graphics (appropriate for Pebble Beach) and included audience response pads. However, the audience didn't just play along on teams. At different points, we "highlighted" audience member keypads for high-stakes play. The game was also programmed so that audience members could "wager" on whether they thought their colleagues would answer a question correctly--or not.

"The PulteGroup Smackdown!"

To reinforce information over a 3-day event, we programmed "The PulteGroup Smackdown". Audience members were divided into six teams that stayed together throughout the three days, and competed in progressively building challenges. The Smackdown highlighted and reviewed key content; from one day to the next it became the "Planning Smackdown" or the "Coaching Smackdown" or the "Sales Process Smackdown"

The picture shown was taken by an audience member--illustrating their keypad (coded by team color) and the opening game screen in the background.

"The Deep Dive"
[Not shown]

A mixture of polling and competition, all in the same game! The "Deep Dive" for EBMS featured graphics that matched their oceanic deep-dive theme, and focused on gathering information and reinforcing knowledge. Since the audience was made up of clients, EBMS wanted to more deeply investigate the needs and behaviors of the audience as well as engage them and energize them with a game show. With custom programming, we were able to securely assign keypads and track data, seamlessly ask polling questions, and also switch to team competition that brought down the house.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hershey Uses Gameshow Pro in Their Orientations

In the July issue of IAAPA's (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Funworld Magazine (how great is that name!), LearningWare received a featured mention.

The article, by Jeremy Schoolfield, detailed how Hershey has altered its orientation program to reflect the nature of the company---and this includes using Gameshow Pro!

From the article:

Orientation Should Be Fun, Too
Making orientation fun doesn’t fall solely on the ambassadors—Hershey goes to great lengths to ensure the entire process is set for success, right down to how the new employees are seated.
The training room is called a “Legacy Zone,” and it’s designed to feel like anything but a stodgy classroom. Current and historic Hershey jingles play over speakers while company trivia flashes on the walls. Rather than rows upon rows of desks, employees sit in table clusters that Buffington says are more conducive to a social atmosphere.

“We immerse them in the culture right away and get them excited,” she says. “This company sells experiences, and we’re trying to model what we expect.”

The orientation program thus minimizes lectures and maximizes interaction. Hershey uses Gameshow Pro software from Minnesota-based LearningWare (www.LearningWare. com) to set up its own “Jeopardy!”-style trivia game about the brand and its legacy. “We’re educating them on who we are in a fun way,” Buffington says.

Orientation also includes a “Bingo”-type get-to-know-one- another mixer game (as opposed to just the boring ol’ “My name is …” introductions) and employs videos and other multimedia programming wherever possible—anything to keep it from being one person standing in front of the group talking for too long.

“We’re an entertainment and hospitality company—so the first step is being entertaining and hospitable,” says Public Relations Manager Kathy Burrows.
You can read the entire article here.
[Photo from article, credit: Giniwoy]

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Ways to Celebrate Game Show Month

July is game show month!

How did the summer month get to have this illustrious title? Well, July tends to be a month that is traditionally...nontraditional. Employees are on vacations, there are a lot of new hires gearing up for the next quarter, the office can be very busy or it can seem very slow. . . so it's a great time to utilize game shows to engage, motivate and train.

So what are some ways you can celebrate game show month?

  • Play our game of the month: The Game Show Blitz, and test your knowledge of game shows past and present.
  • Organize a game show tournament that runs through multiple training modules and days. Display a leader board in the office or training room to keep competition going.
  • Bring your classroom game show online or into your webinar with QuizPoint and AllPlay Web
  • Incorporate videos, pictures and your own sounds into your game show for a highly visual, highly sensory multimedia experience.
  • Download our latest version of Gameshow Pro v4 with 10 new game board designs.
  • Try a new game show format--Gameshow Pro alone has 6 different styles. Varying the game play can add freshness to a classroom game show.
  • Have trainees create their own questions as part of a mid-training review, then use them in the game show to review.
  • Catch up on game show hosting tips in our comprehensive learning center.
  • Use a Classroom Feud-style game show to preview content and generate curiosity around a topic.
  • Join our Facebook Fan Page for frequent, exclusive tips and updates.
  • Get ready for our beta version of Gameshow Pro v5--coming in late summer!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Individual Assessment vs. Team Play

We've talked quite a bit about the strength and appeal of team competition in game shows. However, there are times when individual play may be more appropriate--even in a training setting.

Team Play:
• Allows contestants to be "safe"
• Enables trainees to learn from their peers
• Utilizes competition to add energy to the room
• Allows a trainer to get a general sense of group progress/review en masse, etc.

Individual Play:
• Allows a game show to become a less-stressful assessment tool
• Illuminates individual knowledge gaps
• Caters to those who may be opposed to team play

However, there's a third "blended" approach--team play with audience-response pads--that allows you to both group people on teams, and individually assess them. This mixed approach combines the competitive elements and the supportive environment of a team with the specific assessment element that appeals to the accountability of learning management systems.

1. Find a program that can accommodate the blended individual/team approach--like AllPlay or our upcoming release of Gameshow Pro (version 5)--with individual keypads and team gameplay.
2. Assign keypads to individuals. Usually this can be done beforehand, or you can do this when students are in-classroom.
3. You can either assign students to teams, let them assign themselves, or split the room once students are seated. We recommend seating teams apart from each other so correct answers don't get "passed around". There's still a team cohesion even though team members may not be close in proximity.

Each individual's answer will go to their team's score--the final tally being the total percentage of correct answers per team. On the back end, you can also track individual responses by keypad, but during gameplay, responses can remain anonymous to give the experience of a safe, fun learning environment.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ten Points to Gryffindor: Using Team Points to Motivate Trainees

Anyone who has smallish children, or (ehhem) is like me and occasionally reads young adult fiction, is probably familiar with Harry Potter and, consequently, the world of Hogwarts (School of Witchcraft and Wizardry).

In the books and movies, the instructors at Hogwarts use point systems throughout the year as both an incentive for good behavior/academics and a deterrent for bad behavior. At the end of the year, the house with the most points gets the cup.

We could take a lesson from Hogwarts. But how does this apply to training? Well, team points can be incredibly motivating in a training session. They can be used to:
  • Reward "good" behavior (i.e. on-time attendance)
  • Encourage participation
  • Reinforce correct answers
  • Engage trainees as individuals and teams
Even if trainees don't know each other, and even if the "prize" at the end of the session is insignificant (or if there is no prize), competition still adds an element of fun and responsibility to a training session that might not otherwise be there.

Game shows: Game shows are a great way for teams to earn points in a team competition. You can either add a single game to a training session, or have a game that runs throughout the day (previewing information, reviewing information, teaching information, etc). You can use the same format in different rounds (i.e. Multiple matches of a Jeopardy-style game) or you can use different game formats. Game shows can even be structured in tournament style to make them an event within the training.

Knowledge Bucks: A great way to keep individuals engaged and participating in a less structured session is "Monopoly money" or Knowledge Bucks. This funny-money can be given out when individuals respond to a question, arrive on time, etc. Team members can put them in a designated box, and they are added to the team's total score. These can be tallied during breaks.

Energizers: Have the teams organize a post-lunch cheer, with the most creative, on-point and well-executed cheer receiving the most points. Have a paper-toss where members write questions on paper, crumple them up and toss them around until a designated time period passes and one person from each team must answer the question in their hand--for a certain number of points a piece. Activities like this both contribute to the energy of the room and the team competition.

Leader Board: Have a leader board that shows the tally of team scores for all activities--game shows, knowledge bucks, team cheers, etc. Update it at breaks so teams can see where they stand and to stoke a little competition. This doesn't have to be anything fancy--a grid on a white board or a PowerPoint slide will do nicely.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Game Shows at the Trade Show: Drawing a Crowd

Most of our clients and customers use game shows in their training programs. They're ideal for this; increasing content retention and enabling trainers to review, preview and present information in an incredibly engaging format.

However, as we've collected many, many stories and anecdotes from customers, we've discovered some alternate uses outside of the training department. As it turns out, some sales departments use game shows to promote their products to interested parties. Also, marketing teams are deploying game shows on the floor of trade shows.

Having used game shows at trade shows before (the screen cap in this post is from a custom game we designed for Mystic Tan), we can attest to the power of the medium. Game shows:

Attract a crowd: Whether a few people out of a crowd are playing along or everyone in your booth audience is playing along using keypads, game shows naturally attract an audience. Not only do people want to see whether others succeed or not, but they want to test their own knowledge (to see if they're "smarter than the player"--so to speak).

Engage people with your content: Game shows are a great way to uncover "ah-ha!" moments with your product or company by showcasing unique features/benefits in the form of a question. You can use specific content, (i.e. Which of the following is a new product feature, etc.) or general content to drive interest around a topic (i.e. As you see in the screen capture above--the question is tangentially related to tanning, but doesn't cover Mystic Tan's specific product line), or a mixture of both.

Can direct conversations: Game shows can direct meaningful trade show conversations in several ways:
  • Booth personnel can listen to a game show round and then follow up with more information while attendees' attention is piqued (i.e. Yes, the new product has this feature...and did you know it allows you to do x, y and z as well?).
  • Using audience response pads, you can measure what parts of the audience have knowledge gaps and incorporate survey questions to gauge the level of interest in particular topics or products.

Get people to spend more time at a booth: Game shows not only draw a crowd, but we've seen people who won't stop for a free tchotchke or engage with booth personnel spend large chunks of time at a booth when a game show is involved. And that's more opportunity to get qualified leads!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

6 Multiple Choice Question Writing Mistakes

We found this article on Making Change: Ideas for lively elearning. It demonstrates some pretty clear (and humorous) fallacies when designing multiple choice questions. We think that any of these can apply to writing questions for your game show as well.

[Italics are from the article, commentary is ours]

Can you answer these 6 questions about multiple-choice questions?

1. I opened a course on a topic I know nothing about, clicked through without reading anything, and took the assessment. I passed! What does that suggest?

  1. I am a genius!
  2. The assessment was too easy.
  3. Maybe the course was too easy, too.
  4. Maybe the course didn’t even need to be written.
  5. b, c, and d

2. In a multiple-choice question, when is the longest answer the correct answer?

  1. Rarely
  2. Sometimes
  3. It’s almost always the correct answer, and it’s often stuffed with new information that should have gone in the main part of the course but we forgot so now we’re putting it in the quiz because we can’t possibly leave out the tiniest detail
  4. Occasionally

3. When is “All of the above” the correct answer?

  1. With alarming regularity
  2. When we try to cover too much in one question
  3. When we use a question to teach instead of assess
  4. All of the above

4. When is it NOT a good idea to avoid negative questions?

  1. Never
  2. Sometimes
  3. Always
  4. What?

5. How often is the correct answer a?

  1. Usually
  2. Frequently
  3. Often
  4. Almost never, because if a is the right answer, then the learner doesn’t have to read all the other options we spent so much time writing and revising, and where’s the ROI in that?

6. We can confuse learners when we:

  1. fail to actually complete the sentence we started in the question.
  2. inconsistent grammar in the options.
  3. sometimes we veer off into another idea entirely.
  4. wombats.

How did you do?

When writing your game show questions, it's incredibly important to write good questions. When questions are too easy or difficult, unclear or otherwise, it can stall out game play.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Game shows as a "serious game" solution.

The term "serious game" has been floating around a lot lately. There has been much in-industry debate about what, exactly, constitutes a "serious game" (Versus a training game? Versus a plain ol' game?). Some argue that serious games are digital by their nature, others purport that serious games are really simulations or 3D environments. Some say that any kind of activity that is engaging for a serious purpose is a serious game, others say that the activity has to be directly related and utilizing the content at hand.

So what is a serious game? Wikipedia says:

A serious game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The "serious" adjective is generally appended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion, and politics.

So where do game shows fit into the realm of serious games? Surely, the primary purpose (or original purpose) of a game show was to entertain. This is true if we think about the game shows that came with the early days of television--they were friendly competitions meant to test the wit of competitors, entertain, and bring the family games that everyone knew and loved from around the dining room table onto the new medium of television.

However, a game show's frivolous beginnings become irrelevant when they are re-purposed as serious games for absolutely every topic in every area of training.

Why do game shows make such strong serious games?

  • Their roots as (international) cultural fixtures make them a format that many trainees can identify with. (This also gives them a very short learning curve.)
  • They allow peer groups to work collectively--capitalizing on a trend of collaboration in the workplace.
  • They utilize both individually motivated and peer-motivated competition.
  • They are infinitely adaptable for content. Since most game shows are based on trivia/questions and answers, training material inserted into a game is a natural fit.
  • They can be played in traditional classroom settings, in large events, online or in webinars.
  • They are simple to produce, don't usually require much additional setup or programming and anyone can be a game show host.

These reasons put game shows solidly in the serious games camp. Of course, game shows can still be used as entertainment--heck, there is even value in doing an entertaining game in a training session (to give people a brain break, re-energize the room, break the ice, etc.)--but there is a huge potential for game shows in the serious games realm with very serious subjects.

Game Show Minute May 2010

Believe it or not, we occasionally find resistance to using game shows--based solely on the fact that they are a game show. Here are ways of overcoming the game show bias and getting buy-in.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Training Design with the Game Show in Mind: P&G Case Study

LearningWare's 16-plus years of experience being directly involved with training design and the training industry has enabled us to provide solutions above and beyond simple game show software.

Proctor&Gamble (P&G) came to us with interest in Gameshow Pro, initially. They held a week-long training course for interns transitioning to full time positions in the marketing department (called ABM College), and were looking to review and reinforce (dry) content in a way that would appeal to a younger generation.

They knew they had to engage the troops with interaction, and that game shows were the right direction to go. However, they needed guidance to incorporate games into the 5-day training program. We consulted with the head trainers at P&G to develop a program that fully engaged their trainees throughout the ABM College.

  • Designed a team competition that utilized Gameshow Pro and other activities to keep everyone engaged—with a stake in learning the information.
  • Streamlined the content and organized it into learner-friendly chunks.
  • Worked with presenters on making each individual portion interactive and engaging.
  • Developed a comprehensive production guide.
  • Consulted on all aspects of the training including presentation graphics, signage, course materials, and pre- and post- communication.
  • Were on site at the first rollout to make sure that all the activities went off smoothly and the team competition was organized.
Gameshow Pro was utilized heavily throughout; we had "Branding Feud", a Categories-style "FMOT/SMOT Challenge" and many other game rounds either before or after a presentation to preview and review content.

Result: P&G elicits feedback after every ABM College. The change in format and interaction brought on a dramatic increase in the feedback scores for the event. Participants loved the games and team activities, and felt they got a lot out of their week.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Competition is Key

We're often asked (and we often ask ourselves) what--exactly--makes game shows such effective training tools. They're undeniably and unarguably engaging and effective, but what makes them so compelling?

There are several components that go into a game show that make it an incredible training tool, such as:

• Interaction
• Utilizing questions
• It's a change of pace
• Capitalizing on multimedia
• Etc.

But one of the single largest components that make game shows more effective than, say, a traditional oral question-and-answer review or a poll, is competition. There's something in our DNA, in the heart of how we live and work that makes competition appealing. Perhaps it came from the caveman days when we competed for natural resources and now plays out in gentler, less primitive ways.

The act of competing makes our brains secrete adrenaline, and adrenaline works to fuse memory. Competition also generates emotion--another memory-making component. These elements combined allow game shows to pack a powerful punch and have great training impact where content retention is concerned.

Competition factors in multiple ways during a game show:

Team competition: When placed on a team in a game show, you're no longer just individually responsible for your performance, you're also collectivistically responsible for the success of your team. This peer pressure can be incredibly motivating and can also add a great teambuilding/networking dynamic in the training class.

Self-motivated competition: Even casually watching a game show on television, most people will find themselves playing along. It's not as if we get prizes for answering a question on Jeopardy! correctly, but we play along for the sake of our own self-knowledge and satisfaction. We compete with ourselves.

Competition against others: A game show is a vehicle for friendly competition. A participant competes against others to ring-in first, competes to give the most correct answer, and competes to get the most total points. This competition generates discussion, desire to play another game, and a focus on the content at hand. It's also an incredibly motivational way to interact within a training session.

While there isn't any one single element that makes game shows successful, it's pretty clear that competition is one of the more powerful elements in making them an incredibly effective training tool.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Business Solutions: Better Training Through Gaming

An article including LearningWare and Gameshow Pro from the Wall Street Journal:


Business Solutions:

Better Training Through Gaming



April 25, 2005; Page R6

Note to managers: It's OK to let your employees play games at work.

We're not talking about all those hours fooling around at computer solitaire. Where games have their place -- and significant benefits -- is in livening up boring corporate training sessions.

Companies in the U.S. spend about $60 billion a year on training their employees, but there's a good chance much of that is wasted. The reason: Most training sessions are just too dull. (Web-based e-learning classes were supposed to fix that, but in reality they just allow employees to get bored at their own pace.) As a result, employees aren't coming away from the training with the knowledge or skills their employers are paying for.

"Forget learning," says Marcia Sitcoske, director of Cisco Systems Inc.'s Creative Learning Studio, whose mission is to make the company's online training tools more effective and appealing. "People aren't even completing these things, they're so boring."

Training experts insist it doesn't have to be this way. They argue that companies could make their employee-education programs more compelling, and more effective, if they made them more fun -- specifically, more like computer games.

Evidence suggests adults learn more and retain more in courses that incorporate such game elements as competitive scoring, increasingly difficult player levels and fantasy role-playing. But many managers remain skeptical. It's a rare boss who thrills at seeing workers playing games on the job, and adding games to a learning package tacks on extra expense.

War Games

The U.S. military is a lot further along in adopting game elements in training than are most businesses. In part, that's because learning on a computer is much cheaper and safer than in the field, and recruits come from a generation comfortable in the fast-paced gaming world. The best of the military's training games rival the complexity and richness of some of the best videogames. In fact, a version of Full Spectrum Warrior, a training game developed for the U.S. Army by the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California, has recently been released for the public game market.

Outside of a few custom-designed applications, such games remain a rarity in the corporate training world; don't look for Full Spectrum CEO anytime soon. Instead, a growing number of companies are turning to more modest courses that mix work and play.

In some cases, the lack of good commercial alternatives has prompted companies to take a do-it-yourself approach. Cisco Systems' Creative Learning Studio, formed in 2001, uses technology, high-quality video -- and entertainment -- to enliven its vast library of online training tools. It now has about 4,500 e-learning courses of varying lengths. One such course, for employees and outsiders seeking certification as authorized Cisco "networking professionals," uses a game to help teach fundamentals of building a high- speed network of shared storage devices. Called SAN Rover (for storage area network), the game requires students to race the clock to gather the pieces -- hard drives, switches and other components -- and correctly put together such a network while dodging crashing asteroids.

The game, which reinforces the skills students learn in classes and from their reading, has been played about 2,000 times since it was introduced last June. "More and more people are learning that gaming can be useful in training in the corporate environment," Cisco's Ms. Sitcoske says.

It's All About Competition

Companies also can turn to simple, off-the-shelf games for reviewing and testing. The games don't even have to be that sophisticated as long as they include an essential element: competition.

Borland Software Corp. wanted to give its sales staff an incentive to master details of its product line before an annual world-wide sales meeting earlier this year, and was looking for better results than with its previous PowerPoint-laden e- learning program. So it turned to QB International, a San Rafael, Calif., e-learning company, to develop online study guides that incorporated a series of games for testing students' knowledge of the material. The simple games, based on such diversions as tic-tac-toe and hangman, featured a series of timed questions. Each member of the sales staff had to get at least 80% of the answers correct on a series of nine tests interspersed with the lessons, and those who received perfect scores were entered into a drawing for five Apple iPods. Everyone also had to take a final comprehensive exam of 100 questions, and the one with the highest score and fastest time received a $3,000 prize.

Though the games weren't very sophisticated, they were enough to motivate the highly competitive salespeople. Scores in the preliminary exams were posted for all to see.

"All of sudden, people are instant messaging each other, 'You're on top today, but you're going down,' " says Wynn Johnson, director of field readiness for Borland, based in Scott City, Calif. "The competition is a motivator."

ERC Properties Inc., a Fort Smith, Ark., builder and manager of multifamily developments faced a crucial training challenge: teaching 355 property managers how to comply with Revenue Service regulations for affordable housing tax credits. Managers need to determine the eligibility of qualified tenants, and penalties for not following the law are huge.

Candace Armstrong, ERC's corporate training director, chose software from Minneapolis-based LearningWare Inc. The software, called Gameshow Pro, provides a series of game templates based on popular television shows. Using questions and answers based on her training materials, Armstrong divides each training class into two teams that compete in a tic-tac-toe variation of "Hollywood Squares."

To test the effectiveness of the games, she compared results from a group of employees who played the game with those of a different group that received the same questions in oral review. Managers need to score 80% on a subsequent certification exam; Ms. Armstrong revealed that 88% of the group that played the game passed the test on the first try, compared with 54% of the group that received the basic review.

"Most training is very boring, especially if it's government-required," Ms. Armstrong explained, "The difference was pretty obvious. People learn more when they laugh."

Write to Michael Totty at michael.totty@wsj.com

Monday, April 19, 2010

Raising the Energy Level by "1000%"

This last week, we received this customer feedback about Gameshow Pro in our inboxes. This comes from Dan S. at Workflow Studios (a collaborator with IBM), and it's too good not to share:

The student reaction exceeded my expectations. My first use of Gameshow Pro was the last presentation of the morning before lunch. The energy level rose 1000%. The students had a lot of fun with it and I hope that translated in to greater knowledge transfer. Unlike a standard lecture where only a few students ask questions or speak up, everyone participated in this exercise. It made them think and process the information. The word of mouth spread so fast in IBM that I had someone who wasn't a part of the class approach me during lunch to see if we'd be playing any games in the afternoon where he could see it in action. I tweeted twice about repurposing the content and the results. I had a former IBMer inquire about it.
One line sticks out to us: "The energy level rose 1000%." Any slight hyperbole aside, THIS is the power of game shows--and it's what we see all the time; in large events, in the training classroom, etc. When the game show starts, everyone is paying attention. It's like someone plugged in the room and electricity is now flowing.

It's also why we're so passionate about using game shows in the training session: they work. They're not just a game for game's sake, they're a tool to engage learners--to convey and review content. This review of Gameshow Pro isn't unique--we hear it from trainers all the time, in every subject area, in every classroom (online or in-person) of every size.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Article: How [LearningWare]* Makes Content Fun in Virtual Environments to Drive Engagement

From VirtualEdge.org:

How [LearningWare]* Makes Content Fun in Virtual Environments to Drive Engagement

By: Frank Spinelli

Content is king. That is the mantra throughout the event industry. Technology is all well and good, but at the end of the day, what keeps users engaged is not graphics but content. And too often, content is left up to the client who may know what to say, but not how to say it in an engaging way.

Studies have shown that virtual event attendees do not stay engaged for as long as physical attendees. Whatever the cause—politeness in a face-to-face context, the anonymity of the virtual experience which allows disengagement for periods of time—the need to create content that not only grabs attention, but holds it is vital to the success of the industry. Minneapolis-based [LearningWare] develops creative and unique solutions to content delivery. With its [product], All Play Web and sister company Live Spark, [LearningWare] has a foot in both the virtual and physical worlds and seeks to keep users engaged in both.

One of the keys to keeping users engaged is to give them a stake in the outcome, according to ... Creative VP Missy Covington. Using games and quizzes, for example, can bring out a competitive drive, one sure way to hold focus. Animated characters (AniMates), voiced by local Minneapolis acting talent, can be a strong complement to live event activities. Live Spark produces both physical and virtual events, and until recently, has produced them as separate entities. They are beginning to experiment with hybrid events, however, the roster of animated characters being one virtual element augmenting their physical events.

One of the topics at this year’s Virtual Edge Summit has been incorporating successful elements of online gaming into the production of virtual content. If gamers willingly spend hours online, the theory goes, perhaps the industry can find ways to recreate that experience in its presentation of content (without the blood and guts). [LearningWare] has taken a playful approach to this theory. By utilizing games and animation, they hope to deliver content in a way keeps users in their seats while maintaining the integrity of the information. When a potential client is advised, “Make sure your content is compelling,” the question of how is often left unanswered. [LearningWare] can provide those answers in a unique and fun way.

*Both Live Spark and LearningWare presented at the Virtual Edge Summit. AllPlay Web, referenced here, is a LearningWare product, though the article references the offerings of both companies

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Game Board Previews

Our Twitter and Facebook followers have already gotten a sneak-peek at our new game skins for Gameshow Pro game boards, but in case you haven't seen them, take a look here: New Game Skin Album.

We've re-designed 4 of our most popular Gameshow Pro games with 10 new game skins, including designs such as: Retro Modern (shown here), Construction, Corporate, and Red Hot. Re-vamped games include Categories, Tic Tac Toe, Classroom Feud and Final Answer.

These new skins will be available shortly for FREE for existing Gameshow Pro (version 4) users, and will be included with all new Gameshow Pro licenses.

We're also adding NEW game formats AND game skins to our new AllPlay Web product. Check them out here: AllPlay Web New Game Preview Album.

New game formats include a Wager-to-Win game and a Tic Tac Toe game--and that's just for starters. As with the AllPlay Web standard format, everyone can play along in a webinar or web conference using virtual keypads.

Check out these new, fresh updates to our already incredibly effective, industry-leading software, and keep your eyes open for even more new things from LearningWare!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

AllPlay at an Event: The Experient Experience.

Imagine taking the classroom audience response experience of an AllPlay game show--every single person playing along, engaged and motivated--and expanding it to a large event audience of ~250.

That's exactly what happened in the Experient event. With the cooperation of our sister company, Live Spark, we produced a customized AllPlay audience response game show that kept everyone in the audience involved, kept the energy in the event high, and reinforced crucial content.

The theme of the event was "CSI: Customer Strategy Investigation". The goal was to train the audience (all functionaries within the meeting industry) to be more strategic with their clients. The audience was given a case study before the event--but the key players were unsure whether they would read it and how much they would take away from it. In addition to the case study information, attendees also had to gather "clues" throughout the event. At the end of the event, teams had to present solutions to the case study utilizing the information and clues.

The "CSI Smackdown"--a customized AllPlay audience-response game show--was developed to:
  • Reinforce key case study information.
  • Reinforce and point out clues.
  • Supplement a few key presentation points from the keynote speaker.
  • Energize the audience in between sometimes-dry presentations.
  • Give everyone equal footing going into the case study presentation.
  • Be part of the bigger team challenge throughout the event (game show points for each team were added into their case study scores).
  • Keep the audience on-the-lookout for clues (lest they miss any points in the game show!).
GAME PLAY: The audience was divided into four teams. Each member of each team had a keypad--and the percentage of correct responses taken from each person on the team went their team's total score.

The CSI Smackdown was played throughout the four day event in rounds of 2-4 questions each. This was just enough of a "touch" to reinforce information and energize the room without making the event too much about the game show.

Scores accumulated over 4 days, but the second day, points were doubled. The third--tripled, and the fourth--quadrupled. This was so that--in theory--any team had the chance to leap ahead of the pack with a well-played question. This meant that all teams maintained a stake in the game--whether they were the top scoring team, or the bottom of the bunch.

THE RESULTS: Cheering. Energy. Excitement. Buzz about the game show. A little bit of smack-talking.

After each question, the teams saw the right answer, and were taken to a scoring screen. Four columns--one representing each of the teams--started to rise in suspense in accordance with the teams' scores. (Chants of "Go Team X" or "Go Team Y" were heard.) The column of the lowest scoring team would stop. . . then the next. . . then the next. . . and then the room erupted into cheers, high-fives, and a burst of energy as the highest scoring team was revealed. It's amazing the amount of rejoicing takes place after each question. There's nothing like it at an event.

Most importantly--at the end of the game show, teams had a better understanding of the content than when they began. Everyone was on equal footing so they could present their final case studies, and everyone had a heck of a lot of fun.

As seen in this picture below. After all...does that look like a typical corporate event to you?