How many times have we told our kids, “You only have one chance to make a first impression?”  Well, it holds true for our DecisionSim simulations as well.  That first screen our learners see is really our chance to convince them this experience will be relevant to them.  How many times have you begun a course as a learner and were greeted by the usual behavioral learning objectives, “At the end of this module, you will be able to…” Do you really find these statements inspiring? I sure don’t, and I’m an instructional designer!

Last week, I attended an ASTD Webinar on “turning gamification theories into practice” which had some helpful tips on how to use teasers to capture learners’ attention both on the first and last events of an instructional sequence.  This applies to any type of instruction—not just gaming.  I think that is what struck me most about this Webinar, so much of the theories we see are applicable to many types of instructional activities.

So here is the nugget of wisdom I learned yesterday. Traditionally, we are taught that in order to create good instruction we need to tell learners what we will tell them, tell them and then tell them what we told them.  Gaming doesn’t do that.  Gaming opens with a challenge, with a question, with a teaser.  It doesn’t end with a final conclusion either. Instead, games inform you of the level you have achieved, and then give you a teaser about the next challenge that just happens to be waiting for you.

So, here is your challenge.  Why not begin your DecisionSim simulation with a question to your learners?  Oddly enough, creating that question begins with writing those behavioral learning objectives. This will help guide your design and development. However, don’t present them to your learners that way. Instead, after you have completed the simulation, go back and adjust the first screen by flipping the learning objective into a question that will guide the learners’ journey throughout your simulation.

For example, let’s say your learning objective is: “Learners will be to recall effective strategies for leading difficult conversations with their patients who have advanced illness.” While you can use this to guide the design of your simulation, don’t share that statement with your learners. Instead, you might say, “What strategies do you use to inform your patients that their illness has progressed?  What do you do if they become emotional?”

To learn more go to: 5 Tips for Turning Gamification Theory into Practice