Turning Training Activities Into Games
Adding an element of competition is one of the best ways for you as a trainer to use to keep your participants focused on the topic you are teaching. Games have always and continue to be one of the best ways to liven up your training materials for any training program you deliver. They engage the learner, present content effectively and reinforce the learning.
An excellent technique to use is to turn activities into games and have many of the same effective qualities as games. Any good activity will have a purpose, a set of procedure, rules or guidelines and will often be followed by a debriefing session. But the competitive element is missing, along with some type of scoring that leads to winning and losing.
The first step is to find an appropriate activity that works well and it’s often best to choose an activity that will fit well in an already dry or highly theoretical parts of your training materials to spice-up this part and add more energy and vitality.
To make a good game, you don’t necessarily have to lengthen the activity or make it more complicated—just turned into a game. It helps to keep the definition of a training game in mind: A training game is a competitive activity played according to rules within a given context, where players meet a challenge in their attempt to accomplish a goal and win.
So you will need to:
1. add competition,
2. change guidelines into rules,
3. give a context and a time limit,
4. make it challenging,
5. be clear about what constitutes a win, and
6. be sure the behaviors being practiced are applicable to course content.
The activity you are changing into a game should already be focused on behaviors that are applicable to the course content. To add a competitive element, look for a way to add a scoring component to the activity and stress the time limits. This may simply be a matter of stating how much time they have to complete the activity and that the first person or group to finish will win a prize.
If the activity is a long one and has a few steps involved, you can impose time limits for each step and award points for completing them on time. In fact, finding methods of awarding points can help change any activity into a competition. How do you do that? Well, let’s see.
You can award points for the following:
• for completing a task within a given time limit
• for being the first to complete the task
• for each criteria met
• for each right answer
For example: You can use any of the scoring methods above to turn a dry part about the attitudes, skills, and knowledge of a successful supervisor into a quick game by splitting your participants into teams, handing out index cards or post it notes to each team and announce a small prize for the winning team who will come up with the most characteristics of the “Perfect Supervisor” organized into three categories attitudes, skills and knowledge.
With relatively minor changes and a little extra fantasy and drama, a good training activity can become an exciting, engaging training game. Just because the subject matter is serious doesn’t make using a game inappropriate. In fact, the more important it is that the learners really learn the subject matter, the more effective it is to use a game to reinforce and solidify that learning.