Quests and powerups

Posted by Doc
Mar 07 2011

on a questThe first challenge I’ve set myself is to explore how to incorporate the concepts of quests and powerups/levelups into the professional educational setting1.

In many situations, there is certainly a sense of accomplishment. In fact, at our internal training at ThoughtWorks, we’ve2 moved away from lecture and classroom intensive training, and toward project-focused, experiential learning. This allows the participants to gain feelings of achievement and accomplishment, to learn about collaboration, and to find a sense of discovery. Much of the instruction has moved to a Socratic Method, which both leads and allows the participants to use their intrinsic motivation.

The question I’m exploring is “can we apply these same methods and techniques in a public, less-controlled setting?” I believe the answer is yes.

What would the changes have to be?

  • Far less lecture. Just enough to give them a basic understanding, but not enough to fill their heads.
  • Challenges that allow them to discover, rather than be spoon-fed.
  • Questions rather than assertions, to allow them to incorporate changes in their thinking.
  • Achievements that allow them to feel good about themselves while they are learning.
  • Some extrinsic motivation, as long as it’s not the main focus.
  • The idea of a constant progression toward mastery (which takes me back to Shu Ha Ri and my post Is easy the same as hard?).

We’ll be working on this in our educational content. Expect to see the first results publicly available in the next few months.

Just because, look at this TED Talk by Sugata Mitra. It’s fantastic. (it should be embedded right here)

1 Just in case it hasn’t become painfully clear yet, I am avoiding the word “training”.

2 While I say “we”, in fact I had nothing to do with it. Take a look at Sumeet Moghe’s blog. Sumeet is the driving force behind all of our internal education at ThoughtWorks.

P.S. We’re hiring at ThoughtWorks again (still).

2 Responses

  1. […] Quests and powerups (Steven ‘Doc’ List) […]

  2. Dru says:

    If its a true quest, then it should also allow people to fall out, and even let them get ‘slain’. Too many, for fee, training programs just allow the slackers to carry through and get the treasure any way, there is no way that a dragon is just going to let you walk in and take his pretty toys, you are going to have to take them. And, well, some are going to get eaten.

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