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Prototyping for Learning and Development

By Jonathan Peters, PhD
Sententia Gamification, CMO 

Have you had this experience? You’re tasked with creating a learning program. You’re told by company leadership that there is a problem that needs to be fixed via training. You write down what they are wanting, the learning outcomes needed, and maybe (because you went through a Sententia certification) what their KPIs are for this specific program.

You spend months of time, and tons of creative energy, to create what you believe is an amazing program. It’s now ready to roll out. Learners are lined up, but first you present it to the higher-ups. And they say, “No, that’s not what we wanted…”

All that time and effort down the drain.

In the past, we’ve relied on documentation to avoid this situation. You would spend hours in meetings, making sure you understood exactly what they wanted. You would then write out detailed learning plans and guidelines, that you would send up the food...

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Creating Connections in an Isolated World

This week we started a NEW virtual session of our Level 1 Gamification Surveyor Certification. Students in this session are logging in from all over the globe and the interaction is always lively and fun. 

Although the virtual format allows students to participate from anywhere, one big disadvantage of virtual learning – you lose that “water cooler” effect, where people bump into each other to share ideas, collaborate across industries, and talk about things unrelated to work. Although those minor interactions might seem trivial, they can have a tremendous positive effect on overall class engagement and greatly enhance the learning experience. 

So at Sententia, we put in a concerted effort to create activities that help increase the bonding factors. One technique we use are About Me activities that we weave throughout our multi-hour learning experience. We believe it’s important that participants be allowed to give the group a representation of...

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5 Tips for Creating Learner Personas

 

What is a Learner Persona?
Learner Personas are a fictional representation of your targeted learners. They are based on real data about learner demographics and behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

 

 

How are Learner Personas Created?
Learner personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of new and seasoned employees – both “good” and “bad” -- who might align with your target audience. You’ll collect data that is both qualitative and quantitative to paint a picture of who your typical learner is, what they value, and how your program fits into their daily lives.

 

 

How do you use a Learner Persona?
In order to bring together what you learn during assessments, surveys, and interviews, the next step is to develop a set of personas. Personas are composite characters that represent typical learners...

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The Most Boring Game Possible

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification 

Mauricio Delgado set out to create the most boring game possible and ended up discovering some interesting things about stimulating engagement. 

At Rutgers University, Delgado wanted to discover where excitement and anticipation originates in our brains, so he created the dullest of all possible games in an attempt to isolate other stimulants.            

He had participants lie in an fMRI. Above them was a monitor screen that would flash a number between one and nine. The game aspect of the experience involved guessing whether the number that was about to be shown was greater or less than five. When prompted, the participants click the appropriate number to register their guess. Then they’d discover if they guessed correctly or incorrectly.            

The participants were...

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Purposeful Play

By Monica Cornetti
President, Sententia Gamification

Children learn as naturally as they breathe. Every day they observe and explore the world around them. Everything is new, everything is interesting, and learning is FUN! They process new ideas and information, and even if they do not yet have a verbal language, they work to articulate the joy and excitement of their new discoveries.

Play is critical to the healthy growth and development of children. As children play, they learn through trial and error what works and what doesn’t.

Children use play to learn how to solve problems (Do these two pieces fit together? What does this do?) Through play, children enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. They move to higher levels of thought as they continue to play in more stimulating environments.

Play teaches children how to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules, all necessary skills for both children and adults. Take a few minutes to watch a...

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Power as a Key Motivator for Play

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

In the first-ever empirically-based taxonomy of human needs and desires (how’s that for an opening line), Steven Reiss, PhD identified 16 Core Desires that we all have. These Core Desires motivate us to do certain things in life to satisfy them. What makes us different from each other is the emphasis we place on each one of the Core Desires.    

For instance, Power (the desire to exert one’s will) is an important motivator because the more power we have, the more resources we have, and by extension, the more likely our children will survive and pass along our genes to future generations.    

So while we all have a desire for Power, some of us want more power than others (think politicians vs. your company’s receptionist of 24 years).    

From an evolutionary perspective, whether packs or tribes, animals tend to self-organize in a hierarchy....

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Every Profession that Designs Experiences For Others Uses Personas... Except Learning and Development

Pretty much every profession that designs experiences for other people uses personas… except the learning and development community. Game designers, app designers, web page designers all rely on personas to determine what will appeal to their target audiences and what things they should avoid. But for some reason, instructional designers skip this stage. They simply build a program around the course material without consideration of their “customers.”

Personas came from the marketing world a few decades ago. Marketers realized that focusing on whole populations wasn’t effective. They needed actual personas who are so complete you feel like they are your friend. Once you have their picture in front of you, you can create marketing copy that feels like you are talking directly to a single person instead of broadcasting to an entire population.

Whenever we speak about learner personas at conferences, we get push back. People say things like, “You...

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What Can We Learn from the Marshmallow Tests for the Gamification of Learning?

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

In our efforts to make learning engaging through gamification, we may trip over some unintended consequences. It turns out that there are some advantages to dry, boring lectures. 

It goes back to the famous “Marshmallow Tests” that began in the 1960s. As an aside, the Marshmallow tests didn’t just involve marshmallows. Researchers showed young children a small treat, whatever the child liked. If they liked marshmallows, it was a marshmallow; if they liked something better than marshmallows, then that’s what they were offered. 

The researchers told the children that if they waited and didn’t eat the treat until the researcher returned that the child would get two of the treats. However, at any time, the child could ring a bell and eat the treat, but they wouldn’t get the second treat.  

Some children rang the bell almost immediately; others were able to hold...

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A "Hold-Your-Pee" Game Mechanic?

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Sententia Gamification Chief Motivation Officer

I recently read an article about creating engagement at events in a manner that people put the needs of the group ahead of their own. The author mentioned a bar in College Park, MD, that had an innovative beer special:  beer was $1.50 until someone, um, “relieved themselves.” When someone couldn’t hold it anymore and used the restroom, the beer prices went back to the regular price.

This game mechanic, “hold-your-pee,” probably won’t get included on Sententia Gamification’s list of game mechanics, but like all mechanics, hold-your-pee does appeal to different core motivators differently.

For instance, if someone were highly motivated by Acceptance, they would leave the bar and drive down to the road to use the restroom at a McDonalds instead of letting down the group. This game mechanic would put them under a lot of stress both emotionally and physically.

On the...

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The Dark Side of Oxytocin

by Jonathan Peters, PhD
Chief Motivation Officer, Sententia Gamification

In several of my articles and webinars, I’ve noted the importance of story in learning programs. Specifically, I mentioned the work of Paul Zak who, with the help of the Department of Defense, has shown that when we hear a character-driven story, even if it is as emotionless as the founding story of your company, we get a nice spike of oxytocin.               

Zak has made a name for himself in the study of oxytocin, being called the “Love Doctor” for his prescription of eight hugs a day. And while love can make the world go ‘round, it turns out it really isn’t as simple as eight hugs, especially during the #metoo era.               

Mammals produce oxytocin in their nervous system and bloodstream. It’s most obvious use is to...

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