Have you ever been tasked with developing e-learning that needed to jolt people out entrenched viewpoints? It’s a challenge, and one I certainly haven’t always succeeded in meeting myself. What if you were charged with creating learning to tackle a big problem like poverty or homelessness?
The Urban Ministries of Durham, North Carolina worked with ad agency McKinney to create the game Spent. They don’t call this e-learning, and it’s certainly not a traditional course. But take 15 minutes to play it and you’ll see why I think it counts as a learning experience. Note that the game is US-centric, but the impact should
From the press release description:
- Your savings are gone. You’ve lost your house. Accept the challenge to see if you can make it through the month on your last $1,000, learning quickly how changes in employment, housing, medical costs and other expenses can create an unexpected shortfall.
- Play through a series of difficult challenges that require tough choices about work, where you live and what you can provide your family, seeing all too soon how decisions lead to unimagined consequences. Learn important facts about the condition of homelessness and the many services UMD provides.
The Flash design is very slick and smooth, but I think elements of this could be used even for lower budget development.
- Start with a scenario that creates tension. Down to your last $1000 with no place to live? That’s tension, and you’re immediately drawn into the game. How many ethics e-learning courses could be better if we started with a scenario that sets the stage?
- Give learners tough choices with consequences. The tough decisions in the game are all about trade-offs. Do you pay the electric bill or the gas bill when you can’t afford both? Do you opt to pay for health insurance or risk going without? Do you use your meager wages to pay for a tutor to help your child, or allow your child to fail a class? Do you take the time off to attend a grandparent’s funeral, knowing you’ll lose wages? These are realistic choices with realistic consequences. They aren’t simple right/wrong answers.
- Make it usable. How many e-learning programs start with training on how to use the learning application itself? Spent is easy enough to use that you can jump right in and start making choices.
- Let people make mistakes. We learn by making mistakes. The first time I played, I did survive the month, although with only $5 left. This second time I didn’t do so well, as you can see below.
What do you see in this game that you could use in your own learning development?