Tuesday, 29 October 2013

g-Learning: Is this the learning term that we have been looking for?

In a previous blog (A Games Based Learning Manifesto: 10 Thoughts for Discussion), we stated “Use the “G” word sparingly”. Using games in the title is great if we want to sell to the innovators and early adopters, which as developers we probably are doing. But - and it is big but, I won’t lie - is that innovators and early adopters often need to get buy-in from others who don’t quite get it.

At pixelfountain, we have been selling games since 1998 and have needed to avoid the G word. In the early days we used the term Virtual Training. This seemed to fit nicely with what we were doing which were exploratory adventure style games where users interacted with characters and objects in simulated organisations and sites. As it happens, we now use Situated Training for this type of product / pedagogy as it is built on the theory of Situated Learning. By the early noughties, we had started developing resource management games or simulations. Thus, we started using the term Learning Simulations. To date we still use this term for this type of game, but the problem is that it is a subset of all learning games of which there is no overall nomenclature in the way there is for entertainment games (simulations, first person shooters, platform and so on).

In a terrible spoiler, I have already stated my preferred term g-Learning in the blog title - note to self, must create more suspense if I am ever to make it big as a novelist. But, let me appraise the current contenders, before announcing g-Learning as my winner (doh, I’ve done it again).

Games Based Learning: For me, this term conjures up education and includes the G word. We called our blog Games Based Learning as we had originally planned to just talk about education, but we have partially drifted away from that narrow focus.

Serious Games: “Serious Games” has gathered some traction but is somewhat of an oxymoron - games are supposed to be fun. I appreciate it is the outcome that is serious not the game, but that is not clear from the term. Also confused with serious games meaning hardcore commercial games.

Learning Simulations: As previously stated, this is my preferred term for simulations (obviously) but it doesn’t encompass the array of game styles.

Learning Games: Too vague (doesn’t imply digital) and contains the G word. So in the tradition of judging recent UK Eurovision song entries; that will be nil points from me.

Gamification: The term of the moment, but it is too encompassing describing everything from badges, leader boards through to complex simulations.

The case for g-Learning:
  • It only sneakily hints a games - it is the Assassins Creed of learning terms.
  • It sounds like advanced e-Learning, which I guess it is.
  • It fits in with the learning nomenclature: e-Learning (electronic learning), m-Learning (mobile learning).
  • It sounds techie and sounds like a category (see bullet above).
  • It is succinct.

So, I Googled g-Learning to see what I could find: a few people are using it in the same way that I am suggesting; there is a training company in the UK trading with the name (they don’t do games); a blogger is using g-Learning as in Google learning and another is using it to mean Green Learning. So with that little amount of research, I don’t think there is a reason why we shouldn’t annex the term, what do you think?

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