#TrainChat Wrapup: What Trainers Can Learn From Angry Birds

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On Friday the Daily Mindflash once again hosted a Twitter chat with contributor David Kelly, in which we discussed his latest article, “What Angry Birds Can Teach Us About Instructional Design.” Once again, the chat was a success, with hundreds of questions, comments, and opinions pouring in to the hashtag #TrainChat related to the topic.

We’ve compiled some of the most interesting comments here, along with Kelly’s responses to our questions. For the sake of clarity, we’ve condensed Kelly’s various tweets into a single response, and in places cleaned up a little bit of Twitter grammar.

The Daily Mindflash: What lessons can trainers take away from a successful game like #AngryBirds?

David Kelly (@LnDDave): I find Angry Birds fascinating from an engagement standpoint. Millions of people play it… Why? For starters, it’s a simple game to jump into, and it doesn’t require a “Here’s how to play the game” explanation. How many of our courses require an explanation to simply access them? Angry Birds also encourages experimentation and discovery by rewarding players for finding new ways to ‘win’. We also talk alot about ‘chunking’ content in training. That’s where Angry Birds really excels. I can play a few levels while taking a bus ride, or while waiting on line at the supermarket. The game also provides a great example for building skills: Use one bird, master it, and the game introduces a new variable; a bird with new abilities for you to add to your game-playing skill set.

Other responses from participants

@JD_Dillon: Play to what people already understand. Leverage their skills and interests to get your message across. .
@TheAirton: Simplicity is the key.
@aj_thotstreamin: Make the “To Be Learnt Task” progressively difficult. Each level doesn’t start out being complex but builds up.
@LearnNuggets: Content (levels) is regularly updated. Same game, different versions – #AngryBirds Seasons, Rio, Space, etc.
@write2tg: AngryBirds is based on simple to complex > we build on new skills and competencies as we go along.

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The Daily Mindflash: Angry Birds started out as an app/game for mobile phones. What lessons does the app teach trainers about mobile tech? 

@LnDDave: It’s not just about pushing content to mobile phones; it’s about building programs with mobile in mind. There’s a difference. Angry Birds works on mobile because it fits a mobile lifestyle. You can play a few rounds on line at the bank, or while riding the subway. Angry Birds was also built with the mobile (touch) interface in mind. If you play the game in a desktop browser it feels almost wrong. Trainers should look at the game industry and take notice; Nintendo and Sony are getting crushed by gamers moving to mobile phone platforms that offer similar experiences with social components. Workers are moving to mobile devices as the primary source for data consumption.  As such, trainers need to learn how to play in that space. I think the risk of mobile is when authoring tools simply add “Publish to Mobile Device” as an option.

Other responses from participants

@JD_Dillon: Mobile must take phones into account in addition to tablets, phones are almost always within reach..
@LearnNuggets: Designing for mobile is NOT the same for designing for computer or classroom.
@write2tg:  #AngryBirds was not meant for PCs. It was made for mobiles. Mlearning is not elearning on phone. There is need for design.

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The Daily MindflashWhat other games besides #AngryBirds might have these kinds of lessons for trainers? 

@LnDDaveDraw Something immediately comes to mind. It forces you to think visually. Line-drawing games like Flight Control or Spy Mouse also encourage a similar experimentation type of play. It’s not only games we should be looking at though. Evernote is a great example of a cross-platform experience customized for each platform. I can stay on task regardless of what device I am using, yet the interface perfectly matches the device.  The Kindle app another great example for trainers. I can start reading on my iPad at home, move to my iPhone on the train, and continue reading on my PC at work, and the cloud-based service follows me making it a seamless experience. Work flows are critical in the mobile world.  Mobile games are often interrupted suddenly. How do they handle bringing you back in where you were interrupted?  In terms of mobile apps, I suggest trainers look at successful ones and ask WHY they work well.

Other responses from participants

@write2tg: Games that are social, relevant, fun and addictive are the ones that have the lessons for trainers..
@Ruthie_HB:  DrawSomething reminds you to keep it simple to reach learning objectives.
@krisrockwell: How about “the idea that content on the desktop can be directly moved to mobile is the most asinine idea ever”?

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Be sure to check back again Friday, April 27 at 10 a.m. PST for yet another #TrainChat discussion.

David Kelly is the director of training at Carver Federal Savings Bank and ember of the ASTD National Advisors for Chapters. He is also the author of the blog Misadventures in Learning, where he discusses the future of the learning field and curates the backchannel of learning conferences.