Do fact checks and trivia games have a place in e-learning?

Last week I extolled the virtues of Cathy’s Moore Action Mapping™ approach (take a look at my summary or, if you have a bit more time, Cathy’s slideshow). In his workshop at Training 2010 Rob Hubbard did the same, but he briefly commented on one point in Cathy’s explanation that he’s not completely convinced by. Cathy advises to avoid fact checks and trivia games, as they don’t happen in the real world. But I’m with Rob – I think these types of activity can have a place in e-learning (or any kind of learning, for that matter).

For instance, I’ve often used a ‘myth or reality’ type of interaction (essentially a trivia game) at the beginning of a course or section. I think that a well designed activity of this kind can offer a few important benefits. For instance, it can get the learner thinking about what they do and don’t know, thereby increasing their motivation. Carefully selected trivia, which is both relevant and surprising, can pique their interest and get them wanting to know more. I guess for me it’s a way of showing them that there is something they can learn from the course rather than just telling them what it’s going to cover. (Of course, a well crafted scenario can achieve this too, but might be more appropriate slightly further into the course.) Check out this post from the Spicy Learning Blog for more about the virtues of the myth and reality interaction.

I agree with Cathy that fact checks and trivia games after the learning rarely add value, but I think they can be used to great effect to drive (rather than recap) the learning – getting the learner thinking, testing and gauging their existing knowledge, grabbing their attention and interest and so on. They can also help to embed the learning. For example, dispelling a commonly held belief as a myth can give the learner a ‘hook’ and help to make the learning stick in their memory beyond the course itself.

What do you think? Do fact checks and trivia games have a place in e-learning, or are they superfluous activities that don’t add much value?.

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2 comments on “Do fact checks and trivia games have a place in e-learning?

  1. Stephanie, I agree that priming the learner with questions is a great idea. I have a couple of posts about it, including How can questions engage learners?. The Action Mapping slideshow is necessarily very brief, so its warning against fact checks is meant to prevent the most common use of fact checks, which is to check our “understanding” (actually short-term memory!) after an information presentation.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion!

    • Hi Cathy. Thanks for your comment – having followed your blog for some time I suspected your view wasn’t quite as simple as ‘don’t use fact checks’ but thought it was an interesting question that might raise a few different viewpoints! I think for me the key thing is the difference between an activity like this that drives the learning (or primes the learner, as you say) and one that comes after the learning to test fact retention. Thanks again for reading!

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