Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brent Schlenker: Marketers and Game Developers Know More About Learning Than We Do!

From the blog Learning Visions comes this interesting take on gaming and education:

Brent Schlenker: Marketers and Game Developers Know More About Learning Than We Do!: "

Live session with Brent Schlenker: Marketers and Game Developers Know More About Learning Than We Do! hosted by Training Magazine Network.


Disclaimers: “I am not a marketer or a game developer.”  (Although he plays a LOT of games).

When he listens to game developers talk, feels like they’re in the learning prof.

Everything IS about learning. 

Brent’s background:

What I am:  15+ yr learning professional, lifelong learner, player, consumer.

  • news – using media to tell stories.
  • Masters degree in Instructional Systems Design Process
  • 10 years at Intel working in tools.

How do we use new and emerging technologies in the learning space?

We don’t typically create the new tools in eLearning – that innovation is happening in other places – e.g., marketing.

What’s coming down the pike so we can prepare our learners for them?

Point of today’s conversation: talking training, design and development if a marketing person were doing it. Or a game developer.  What cool things are other areas doing that we can leverage to make us better designers and developers?

Comment (Julie S):  “My first boss said that training is very much selling.”

Marketers are REALLY good at understanding who their target audience is.

People, Context, Content

Corporate ISD:

  • When working with a Subject Matter Expert (SME), they have a tendency to put everything into the training.
  • In corp learning space, we have a tendency to give in to that.  We bow to the will of the SME…
  • Little room for creativity

New technology gives us new tools. 

Marketing Depts:

  • Marketing dept always has the money.  That’s where most creative talent in organizations go.  This is where business finds the value, which is why marketing is where the dollars go.
  • They also get the resources to analyze the data.
  • What are they doing that’s different?
  • How do they measure success?  Are the expectations on marketing depts greater than on training? 
  • Marketing brings in the money.
  • A big part of marketing IS education --  what is the product? how does it add value?  why should you buy it?  This is the greatest connection between what we do…

Learners need to change behavior…which is what marketing does. 

Event-based learning vs. Learning Campaigns

Marketing talks about a CAMPAIGN. Learning talks about a curriculum.

A campaign is a series of events/operations/continuing storyline – not just a “set of courses”.

A campaign that’s a continuous storyline involving a set of adventures and characters (learners) to achieve a set goal…

Design and develop learning campaigns that involve storylines, adventure, social media, people – every campaign has a structure to it – there is a formal development/design process.  But there’s room to move. Different media involved in an ad campaign.  Let people engage with others in the learning process.

New tools make this easier to implement from cost perspective, but still a big time cost to developing/designing learning campaigns.

A learning campaign is different than a marketing campaign.  It’s not about t-shirts and email blasts – it’s about providing more ways for learners to engage with and access content.

World of Warcraft:  getting people into a shared space to figure out together how to get the boss (the bad guy).  Someone in comments wrote “sounds like a business strategy meeting!”

Get the Learner’s Attention

We use a lot of “fake” ways to get people’s attention…fun flash movie and then slide into the boring content…but I got their attention!  (Yes, we need to sustain that attention.)

Each person’s individual desire to learn something is what makes for engagement.  We’re not talking about “dressing up” content to fake that it’s engaging.

Book Recommendations:

Made to Stick (idea of attention – marketers do something shocking and unexpected, “unexpectedness”.)

A Theory of Fun (“games are puzzles to solve, just like everything else we encounter in life”)  The most serious issues we have to approach are puzzles.

Don’t just read learning design and pedagogy books.  Extend what you can do – think outside of your field.

Common Craft Videos

Great at explaining.  Now companies are coming to them to do marketing – to explain their products.


Why are these so memorable?  What can we learn from these infomericals?  What are they doing – how do they display information and what' they’re teaching us about their product?  Seems like an ID at work in there.

YouTube – videos – short hits to educate.  30-90 seconds.  A whole lot of info, but the right info when you need it.

Production costs have dropped – we can start adding a lot more media/engagement to our programs.

Quickly produce short tips.

Attention – ways marketers and game developers get our attention.  They do this well.

Analysis – really know their audience.

Objectives --

Measurement --

What you can do?

  • Keep it quick
  • Make it short
  • Be really creative
  • Make something that actually affects behavior (marketers want people to change their behavior – drink pepsi not coke, drink coke not pepsi)
  • Make it truly memorable

Don’t just need IDs on your staff – get some creatives in there who look at things a bit differently.

Understand gaming theory and gaming design. 

Put the customer/consumer/learner first.  We say we do…but we don’t often do it.

The best stuff is not trickery – it’s an engaging game; it’s a great product or service.  That’s all.  (Jeopardy is really kind of lame…)


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