Friday, 8 February 2008

Wii-velopment for staff

For sometime now we at Staff Training & Development at DMU have been musing over whether we should be introducing some appropriate technologies to enhance training sessions; after all, learning technologies is for [both academic and support] staff too, and not just for enhancement of student learning.

There is another justification to using technologies for staff development, which is for students to appreciate and use learning technologies, it is fundamental that staff understand and use learning technologies. For staff to use learning technologies effectively it is crucial that the staff/educational developers also understand the use and appreciate learning technologies. Staff/educational developers therefore have an important role to play but are generally reluctant to do so because they are not yet sufficiently capable, or moreover, simply not confident. Therefore it is incumbent that Staff/Academic Developers employ techniques in their training with learning technologies; more so at De Montfort University where our strapline is Professional, Creative, Innovative.

At T&D we had been thinking for ways of incorporating gaming, especially video consoles, but had refrained because we thought that video consoles wouldn't go down well with training staff, especially the academic; put beautifully by an academic colleague from Academic Professional Development Unit, "They'd [staff] simply walk out"!

However there was another issue that was at the back of our minds, at DMU we have around 3000 staff and are committed to recruiting appropriate people from all walks of life and ages, and so we may have many "digital natives" now amongst our work force who have grown up along side all sorts of technologies, and by using new technologies in training and development we may tap areas that are natural and indigenous in their lifestyles.

However, this shouldn't be at the expense of others being left out. We couldn't expect staff who are new to many concepts in technology to join in and naturally feel comfortable with a Playstation controller and the latest shoot 'em up like Resident Evil. Well, not until now; several months ago Nintendo released a new games console aimed at a broader demographic than that of their counterparts such as Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo claim that this console will attract people from all ages to play video games, and many titles together. See clip below.

Wii Made History

Richard Hall already commented on a previous post about his experiences with a friends family (and an eight-year old who thrashed him on a virtual game of Tennis) using a Wii; only recently did I learn that a US study showed that surgeons playing a Wii before entering the operating theatre perform better.

If studies show there is an improvement of performance using such technologies then perhaps similar appropriate techniques be used appropriately during staff training & development - or should we call it Wii-velopment.

One such example where Wii's can be used that quickly comes to mind is during ice-breaker session towards the beginning of a training event. Instead of spending 20 minutes having each member introduce themselves, or any other popular ice breaking examples staff trainers employ, participants can be gathered together and put in front of a Wii to have a game of bowling.

Richard Hall and I are currently discussing this initiative to see where other scenarios a Wii can be used in Staff Training/ Development/ or Teaching and Learning, and we will subsequently investigate, and experiment to see whether this particular technology do in reality enhance training , teaching or learning.

If anyone has any suggestions or ideas the do let me know.

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Suki said...

I think this usage of Wii's in staff development can be useful at at all phases of staff development! from recuitment to faculty away days - for team building. We can have programme teams/module teams particpate in excercises to improve team building. I can see how Wii's can be viewed in conjunction or aligned against those activities which some corporations send out colleagues as a team building exercise i.e paint balling, mystery solving etc. There's definetly some scope here. If on our faculty away day we had a workshop for this, I would go!!!

Suki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mohamed said...

Thanks for your comments Suki!

Here's one way I sold the idea to my seniors who are staff trainers by profession:

"How would you like to have a bowling alley in you training room, well here's one!".

So I suppose there is a case for virtualising real social activities. So for example I wouldn't necessarily choose to play Super Mario Brothers say for team building for staff development at DMU, but might play the bowling game, as bowling in real world is related to a social activity that colleagues may participate in. I might play the baseball game with my son, as we tend to do that in our local park, and play the boxing game with my buddies (Oh don't we really wish sometimes we could "upper-cut" a buddy who fools around a lot).

So I think it's horses for courses, and appropriate games should be used for various settings and groups.

Perhaps you'd also like to participate when Richard and I start to experiment?

Suki said...

I would like to be involved, if and when you're trialling. It may be worthwhile investigating 'the real social activities' which can be mimicked by these virtual 'games' which are successfully used in one form of manner or another and be applicable to our staff in the educational context. (Google - 'team building activities' - you get a whole host of stuff!)Its defintely an 'ice-breaker' and allow peolpe to 'open up' and get in touch with their 'creative' side!