Sunday, January 09, 2011

App-y New Year!

Fresh off the holidays, it's time to take a look at one trend that is re-shaping the way we create and distribute learning: mobile apps.

Recently, I championed the use of a really cool smartphone app (Qrank) to fully engage employees - and customers! - in content related to organizational development. Although the client is - self-proclaimed - still living in Learning 1.0, they realize technology has moved well beyond simple eLearning pager turners. As a culture, most corporations are also well beyond the point of trying to keep "learning behind the wall". Today's learners: employees, leaders, customers, vendors, etc. are surrounded by online resources that deliver relevant information quickly and easily.

Why pretend employees can only learn the "secret recipe" from a corporate course or some internal site published by the organization? Very often, employees obtain the same (or similar) information from competitor sites, You Tube, peer blogs and customer emails faster than the CEO can compose the official press release.

Here's why this social media app is so appealing...

QRANK (sounds like crank) is a social media app that offers everyone a five minute brain scratch in the form of 15 trivia questions.

The standard Qrank game invites players to choose 15 of 20 cards that have questions from seven categories: business and government, entertainment, history and place, life, literature, science and nature, and sports. Points are awarded based on the difficulty of question and the speed at which the user chooses the correct multiple choice answer. Once players complete their final question they see how they rank among users in their city, state, country, and globally. didn't take me long after stumbling on this game to see a huge possible application for learning. Rodney Gibbs, CEO of Ricochet Labs, was quick to listen to my proposition for using his game engine to educate and fully engage an organization's customers and employees.

Imagine using an application like Qrank to:

  1. Quickly create and host a trivia contest at a sales center or at multiple retail locations. Invite guests to play onsite for additional prizes and a chance for employees to engage them in branded conversations about products or special offers.
  2. Forego the traditional newsletter or email blast and invite members to compete in an industry-related quiz.
  3. Launch a series of contests throughout the year, with sales people (or any department for that matter...) to see which employees are staying on top of new product or industry knowledge. A final competition or annual event could cap the year's effort.
  4. Last, just use it as a distributed quiz that tests knowledge. Simple enough. Oh, and by the way: you can track results using any SCORM compliant Learning Management System.
Not bad for an application that is fast and free to download, carries a small footprint and is addictive to play. Another big plus is the instant localization (local, regional, national or global stage) Qrank and other social apps offer as I design the learning.

I'm not the first to see a huge upside to using game engines like Qrank. And the developers I have met are eager to extend their program's usability. I'll be updating my blog with progress on Qrank and other apps, to see how I might be able to apply them quickly and affordably and create more meaningful learning moments...

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