Game-Centric Learning

Writing about TL.

Just before opening my word processor to write this morning’s chapter, I received an email with an invitation to download another new free eBook about eLearning from an LMS company, offering the latest guide to innovative instructional design. I thought it was worth taking a look, because maybe they had already written what I was about to write, and I was wasting my time.

But alas, no. What I found was another in the series of well-stated pitches for the ADDIE model, and pages of recommendations for how to use color, how to design good navigation controls, and how to write good scenarios to add to a course to make it more “interactive”. All leading up to a very nicely written explanation of why that company’s LMS was the ideal solution for elearning. Sighting research and strategies from 30 years ago, the innovative guide was a carefully crafted marketing piece, designed and presented not to innovate eLearning, but to support the traditional eLearning market that fits the company’s LMS product.

It was a fine marketing piece, and a perfectly find thing to present to support LMS sales. But it clearly did not meet the challenge of presenting anything innovative about elearning, or suggest anything that might help address the very real challenges facing eLearning today.

So, I deleted the thing and went back to my writing. Here is a bit of what I wrote:

When was the last time this happened?nonext-button

You were talking with a client to try and resolve a problem when suddenly everything stopped. Nothing moved. There was no sound. The world just froze. Then you notice the little button on the clients desk that said “Next”. You reached over and touched that button and everything suddenly sprung into action again. Until it stopped again, and that little button began to glow.

And when was the last time this happened?

You were in charge of a project and you got a message from one of your team with a question about a key issue. You responded with as clear of an answer as you could send. A few seconds later you got a message letting you know that your response earned 8 out of 10 possible points, and then displayed a nice little leaderboard graphic showing you how many badges you had earned so far this week.

And when was the last time this happened?

You were preparing for an interview for a new role which required mastering a lot of new terminology and a lot of new procedures. As the interview began, the person across the table pulled out a little whiteboard with a little road map drawn on it and said, “Ok, I’m going to give you a word, and each time you can give me the correct definition, we’ll move this little car down the road. If you get all the way to the big building at the end of the road, you get the job.”

When? I’m guessing never. That’s not how things work in the real world. So, why is that the way we try to prepare people to be successful?

– Navigating through a conversation with a client is determined by the choices we make about what we say, and how the client responds to those choices.

– The results of our leading a team are seen in the results the team creates, and how well we accomplish the goals we were given, together.

– And to show you understand a role you need to be able to make key decisions and apply key concepts, and not just be able to recite definitions.
TL Logo

I am writing about TranceFormational Learning®, and how TL provides a different way of thinking about learning, wherever that learning takes place. TL believes that it is time to rethink how we design learning and training activities, and offer our learners something more authentic that can better prepare them to apply their learning in the real world.

TL was not designed to support practices and products. TL was designed to help learners learn.

More soon…

My brief history of education in Second Life:

Phase 1: A small number of educators were amazed at the possibilities of 3D space, and spent hours learning the skills needed to create activities that were new and exciting.

Phase 2: Huge numbers of educators entered Second Life, many of whom were looking for the next big thing they could incorporate into what they were already doing, and rather than spending hours learning skills, they complained about “learning curves”.

Phase 3: Huge numbers of educators announced that Second Life was a failure at innovating learning, and went off in search of the next big thing they might try. Meanwhile, the other educators continued their learning and creating.

Phase 4: (tomorrow) Educators in Second Life discovered the real potential of Second Life and 3D space to enhance learning, and are creating activities that are engaging learners in ways not possible before. NOTE: However, these educators are keeping rather quiet about it, because they really don’t want all of those complainers coming back and bring us all down again.

Personal Adventure


We have been slow to update our site for a while, and here is one of the reasons why. Along with helping our clients achieve their goals for eLearning, we have been finding the time to work on some of our personal goals for developing new approaches to eLearning, one of which is the online, virtual 3D environment technologies.

Over the holidays, we hope to publish our early prototype of a highly interactive 3D learning activity based on topics of life in the first century wilderness. Using tools like Unity 3d, and working with our archaeology and history friends, the goal is to create an authentic environment that learners can walk around in and explore, chatting with in-world characters, and get a multi-sensory introduction to the key learning objectives. Its not a “game”, though we like games too, but this activity uses the powerful tools and design approaches of good “games” to create the same type of immersive experience.


Whether a first century desert, the office boardroom, the shop, a home visit, or the hospital hallways, we believe online, 3D learning is an option worth exploring! It’s our own, personal adventure.