by Mike Smith
March 18 4:38 P.M.
Inspired by popular video games like World of Warcraft, an Indiana University professor is applying game design principles such as clear, well-defined goals and gradual, incremental rewards to his college classes. A hit with students, the approach has some employers showing interest, too.
Students at several of Indiana University's game design courses begin their class with zero "experience points," which corresponds to an F grade. Instead of completing presentations, they'll perform "quests;" sitting exams becomes "fighting monsters;" and handing in assignments becomes "crafting." Students even team up into "guilds" to tackle group projects.
Setting assessments in the context of video game achievements helps students get motivated, according to the courses' coordinator, Indiana University's Lee Sheldon.
"The elements of the class are couched in terms they understand, terms that are associated with fun rather than education," he told iTnews. "We are teaching the gamer, social networking generation."
Sheldon reports his students are showing far greater enthusiasm than with old-style assessment methods. He's convinced employers can improve staff performance with similar tactics -- and his message is hitting home with at least one CEO, according to iTnews.
Distribution firm Express Data, one of Australia and New Zealand's top employers, and renowned for its highly engaged employees, finds staff perform better once they're given clear expectations and plenty of feedback -- not so very different from the way many games organize their quests and update players on their progress.
"If you had a game of ten pin bowling and you put the pins behind a curtain and told people to bowl," Express Data's Ross Cochrane told iTnews, "then it doesn't become much of a game, and...they tend not to get the best outcomes. You need to provide very clear feedback."
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