I recently did a Google search on "brain game benefit," and got over 60 million hits. To date, most of the benefits of brain games have been either anecdotal or based on very small studies. And the studies seem to focus largely on children or the elderly. I think that’s because children and the elderly are where brain-game improvements are likely to be the most dramatic. They are the low-hanging fruit in the proposition that brain games can improve performance. Can brain games help in business training courses?
If brain games can help improve learner performance, then “gamification” of business training courses would make a lot of sense. Gamification – the use of game approaches in non-gaming contexts – has been around about as long as humanity, but the word itself first appeared in 2002. It was on the back burner until 2010, when it captured the public imagination, and a number of articles appeared in the business press about it. In August of that year, a website called DevHub, which lets users create their own blogs and websites, reported that it increased user completion rates from 10 percent to 80 percent by applying gamification. Reports like that get attention.
Now, a recent article in The Atlantic by Dan Hurley says we may be reaching a tipping point with brain games (and, I would suggest, with business training courses): “Whether computerized games designed by psychologists and neuroscientists can literally make people smarter has been hotly debated by scientists, with a small but outspoken cadre of skeptics demanding stronger proof. Now two new studies have found the kind of real-world benefits from the brain-training games that skeptics have been calling for.”
It’s worth reading the entire article, but I wanted to note one of the two studies it discusses. In the slums of Buenos Aires, 111 impoverished first-graders played computer games for 10 weeks during designated periods. Some of the children played ordinary games, and some played games specially dened to improve attention, planning, and working memory. The most interesting finding in this study was that children who attended school regularly got no particular benefit in terms of their grades. But those who attended erratically, which is often the result of disordered home life, improved in language and math to the point their grades caught up to those of their classmates. Results with children don’t translate directly to business training courses, but I find it exciting that gamification can counteract outside distractions. “Back at the office” is often analogous to “disordered home life.”
In addition, the article cites a meta-analysis of 13 earlier studies, which found good statistical evidence for gains in measures of “fluid intelligence” from brain training. Fluid intelligence is the ability to identify patterns, to reason, and to learn. Fluid intelligence is certainly valuable to learners in business training courses.
A neuropsychologist would probably have a fit with how loosely I am using the concepts of brain training, brain games, and gamification. But I don’t think we need to be neuropsychologists in order to make use of gaming techniques for learner engagement. Gamification has a bright future in business training courses. CHOICE, our patent-pending configurable learning platform, is ready for it. You can use Logical Operations’ award-winning business training course development process with a digital multi-platform learning experience that is interactive and intuitive. Let the games begin.