Monday, 3 October 2011

Proof of the Pudding 3 (learning simulations vs. games based learning)

Building on two past posts (Proof of the Pudding and Proof of the Pudding Part 2) I thought I would blog about pixelfountain.

pixelfountain is the company I set up in 1995 and have been working for ever since. The company owns the brand games-ED, which has been the main focus of my blogging activities. But, I thought for a change I would inform my readers about the learning simulation activities of pixelfountain.

I have designed over a dozen learning simulations for pixelfountain. The learning simulations blend the best of traditional and interactive learning. They have been used in over 450 workshops  to successfully train more than 6,500 individuals. We have delivered learning programmes in local councils, public sector, housing associations, community & voluntary sector and the private sector. Long–term evaluation of our learning simulation approach has shown that the immediate benefits translate into changed behaviour, better decision making and improved skills, which ultimately are incorporated into organisational improvements.

Evaluation of our programmes highlight improvements in 3 areas, which translate into improved decisions and allow change to occur at an organisational and partnership level:

  • Strategic Thinking – Understanding the key driver and needs. Does a particular decision help us get closer to our goal?  Learning simulations enable delegates to test strategies in a virtual community without the danger of making mistakes. They can then reflect on how their new understanding can be applied in the real world.
  • Joined-up Thinking – Understanding cause and effect provides perspective, reduces the chance of perverse outcomes / duplication, and increases the likelihood of win-wins. 
  • Collaborative Working – Working with stakeholder groups and partners improves decision-making by allowing organisations to benefit from the ‘wisdom of the crowd’. pixelfountain learning simulations are centred on the people. They consider how people learn, how they collaborate and how they apply new knowledge.

And, here is the interesting the thing, the learning simulations that I have designed, developed and delivered for pixelfountain are pretty much the same products as the games based learning products that we use with games-ED. If you don't believe me have a look at the games-ED Sustainaville demo and compare it to the pixelfountain product Planit-Sustainability. Okay they are not entirely identical as Sustainaville was slimmed down for the education market - not because it was deemed too hard, but because it needed to fit into educational time frames.

Actually, over the last decade we have been invited on special days to use pixelfountain learning simulations in schools, colleges and universities. They worked in education as well as with adult audiences, so we knew we weren't taking a huge risk with branding them as games-ED for the education market. In conclusion: 450 successful learning simulation workshops - that is proof of the pudding for learning simulation and our games based learning approach as well.

Finally, if they are the same product, why use to different terms: learning simulations and games based learning? Well, when we started delivering learning simulations 10 years ago, we didn't think people would turn up if we mentioned the "G" word. Pin It