Gamification and Classroom teaching – no more GPAs Continued

In our previous post we talked about two very crucial elements of Gamification in classroom teaching;

Clarify the learning outcomes!

Select a Big Idea!

Schools today face major problems around student motivation and engagement. Gamification, or the
incorporation of game elements into non-game settings, provides an opportunity to help schools solve these
difficult problems; and this is our objective…

The Fun Way To Engage

The Fun Way To Engage

Today we will talk about two aspects which involves ‘Creating the storyboard’, and Designing the learning activities’

How we can do this?

Schools already have several game-like elements in place. Students get points for completing the assignments. These points translate to “badges” or shall we say as grades. Students are rewarded for desired behaviors and punished for undesirable behaviors using this common currency as a reward system. If they perform well, students “level up” at the end of every academic year. If we do have the gamification already in schools; why is that this game like element doesn’t translate in to engagement?



The primary reason for the disengagement from school to happen is; at Social and Emotional levels…few examples of this would be:

Read an optional library book on the topic being taught in class? Receive “Reading” points. Get perfect attendance and complete all homework assignments on time for a month? Earn an “On Target“ badge.

In order for the students to understand the gamification and enjoy this…the game has to have a story around this, where you start with a challenge; do some learning activities to accomplish this challenge…and then you end this with a show – off; show off in this case will eventually be a reward for the student.

Let’s relate this with our Angry Birds game;

Angry Birds asks players to knock down towers by launching birds out of a slingshot. Players must experiment with the game to figure out the physical properties of different tower materials, the ballistics of the slingshot, and the structural weaknesses of each tower. They launch birds, observe the results, plan their next moves, and execute those plans. In short, players’ desire to beat each level makes them small-scale experimental physicists.

This is exactly the way a game should be planned with a challenge and an opportunity to learn!

There is an emotional transformation that is associated with every game; and so with the storyboard formation in our game theory. While designing the game we need to make sure that we are adding points where ever user can ‘Fail Safely’.

Consider this example of emotional transformation in a game which is around the issue of failure. Because games involve repeated experimentation, they also involve repeated failure. In fact, for many games, the only way to learn how to play the game is to fail at it repeatedly, learning something new every time you fail.

Also pay attention to what happens at the vantage point; since there is always a tendency to react differently when you are at the extreme; be it a failure or a success. This can create a transformation in student behavior too. A shy student may actually learn to lead a team of fighters in the game…which in turn makes her get rid of stage fear; speech fear and many such things.

Now let’s talk about another aspect of our discussion which is around designing the

What do we mean by an ‘Instruction’?

Instruction is a ‘Set of events’ which are external to the learner, and are designed to support the internal purpose of learning.

Examples of learning activities can be: Make Connections, anything which involves deep thinking, and attention grabbing activities…etc.

Learning Activities

Learning Activities

Majority of the time you would see learning to happen during the instructional period; teachers and student and their team mates share the information on what they did, how did they do it; what instruction were helpful for them to achieve a challenge.

Teaching kids was never an easy task, and it will never be; however what we can always try is to make it more fun for them; make it more interactive for them. There are reasons why student fail; the first one being they are not getting engaged with what they are taught! This should be changed! Especially for a country like India, where there is a massive gap between education standards; and the rate at which students join and then leave the school midway…Gamification can be a real boon for a country like ours!



All right then tomorrow we’ll be talking more on how to build teams, and the dynamics of team…till then ‘Happy Learning’… 🙂


Gamification and Classroom teaching – no more GPAs

What happens when you combine game-based learning and gamification process together for your classroom!

What are we talking about…we’re talking about making ‘Learning’ a fun!! And how do we do it?

How many of you have played ‘Angry Birds’…all of you :); have you ever thought of using this awesome game as a learning tool; how about Newton’s Law? Have a look at the image below; and you will immediately say..Oh! Wow!

Angry Birds and the science...

Angry Birds and the science…

Let’s pause and realize, how much we as adults actually come across ‘Gamification’ in daily routine!

In fact, your life is itself “gamified”—loosely, through informal social challenges- gaining access to “Titanium” or “Life-time free” credit cards, collecting frequent flyer miles, getting free tickets of your favorite movies. Even sticking a push-pin [Check-ins] into the map of every traveling destination you’ve ever visited is a form of “gamification.”

I have always been a supporter of making learning ‘Easier’ for kids, and assuring that ‘GPA’ or Grade Point Average’ should not be a criteria for judging the ‘Intelligence’ of kids or students for that matter. Why?

Grades quantify or attempt to quantify the understanding and/or performance in hopes of hiding the complexity of the learning process. Just think about the complexity different learners go through!

Individuals have different teachers, different assignments, completed in lieu of different learning styles, with the overwhelming influence of incredibly different personal lives— Now how can a grade system actually be ‘Universal’?

Gamification can change this! Let’s see how!

Rather than providing a handful of slots for the “star performers” to occupy, within gamification lies the ability to recognize the deeply personalized nature of learning. Not all students want trophies or gold medals, or to be patted on the head for “studying hard.” Rather, learners [There is a reason why I’m talking about learners; gone are the days when you only wanted to be recognized for being Studious’]  want—and need—recognition of their unique nature: their past experience, their interests, their cognitive and creative gifts, and the critical interdependence with those around them.

With gamification we can create which I call ‘Personalized Learning’

Let’s take a look at step by step approach which if implemented in schools / colleges, bound to help learning process! We will be talking about 6 step processes…and make it a three part series; here are the first two steps…


Clarify the learning outcomes!

First thing first; you need to clarify the learning outcomes…what is that a student is going to get from the learning process? What is there in it for her/him to improve upon?

Primarily, an educational objective can be divided in to three sections: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor; you can call these as [Knowing-Head | Feeling-Heart | Doing-Hands].

Larning Objectives

Learning Objectives

Now once you have master these objectives you should be able to create a process for students to study with! For more information refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy

The best way to do this; is to use Verbs; these are the verbs which expresses Learning Outcomes; for example one of the learning outcome can be:

You need to arrange alphabets to recognize a sketch [The bold are verbs], this is a perfect way of providing a clear outcome of what you really want your students to come up with!

Once this is done, you need to make these outcome measurable;

After analyzing the sketch, we will merge various sketches to envision a story.

This is another kind of example where after defining the objective, you’re providing it a measure. In this case measure is a ‘Story’!

Step2: Select a Big Idea!

You need to ask yourself; what idea you should impart in your student’s mind which will carry the course through to the end..this idea can be a challenge…or can be a theme…and in order to accomplish this idea; student should master all the learning outcomes!

Big Idea

Big Idea

Example: An idea can be; your class is working towards saving the ‘Rainforest’

Now pause here, and try and relate to what I mentioned in the previous step!

  • You have defined learning outcomes…which in our case was a ‘Story’ made out of various characters…[sketches]
  • And you also have an idea too…which is our case is saving the rainforest…

Try and think from a student perspective, you will visualize the excitement, and the fun kids are going to have their studies…and this all can be achieved with just a thoughtful execution of gamification…

For the next series; we’ll be talking about how do we ‘Create Storyboard’, design the learning activities, build teams, and apply the dynamics of game…till then Happy Gaming… 🙂

References: Verbs that express learning

Usability Mistakes – Assumptions and Solutions!

Too Many clicks!

What makes any software usable be it a healthcare, Retail, or say Airlines industry?

The message that product gurus are receiving from users is clear – many of today’s solutions are perceived as non-intuitive, with the potential to confuse workflow and slow down their practice. Organizations that focus on product usability are gaining competitive advantage by showcasing success stories of innovative design, ease of adoption, and long-term satisfaction.

Having worked on few products; I have come across quite a few Assumptions. We in this 4 part series will talk through these assumptions and try and see if we can have a solution around these assumptions!

Assumption 1: All info at single screen

Majority of the times it is assumed that information presented by a software product should be
visible on a single screen!

The question that comes with this assumption is how come in the world the huge amount of data can be presented into one screen without making it cluttered?

This is a classic user interface problem. Typically, this type of observation stems from prior experiences in
which the user was forced to hunt for information.

Usability Mistakes

Usability Mistakes

Users become frustrated when they can’t find the information they are looking for. And this results in the assumption that the solution to their problem is to have all of the information available “up front” so that they don’t have to search for it.

But this approach is not a correct one! It has its own flaws…a single UI screen simply just can’t have enough space to house all information.Even if you somehow are able to adjust the data in one screen, this would end up making the scree or page cluttered!

What I feel we never understand what exactly user is looking for; To me they are really asking for the ability to obtain the information they are looking for in a

quick, non-stressful fashion

You can only help them do this if you understand the common tasks performed by your users and the terminology that they use in their work day.

  • Reserve dashboards for primary tasks only

If you design the dashboards without formal user research and usability testing, you would see cluttered dashboards / main screens on almost every product.
Once you understand the users’ workflow, you would discover that users have a distinct set of primary and secondary tasks. They may look for some information quite a few times per day, while they may only want to access other information once a day or once a week.

The key is to ensure that the information can be found and accessed in a logical fashion and displayed at the right time.

Research has shown that if the path to the desired information is clear and obvious, a user will not mind navigating two or three pages “deep” as long as they know that they are on the right track.

It is therefore important to design the interface in a way that

  • reduces the time for a user to think about where to go
  • moves them through the interface in a logical fashion.

If users become confused about where to look for information or the time it takes to return to that information, they will become frustrated and their confidence in the solution will be shaken.

A desired page might be just one or two clicks away, but if users do not see a logical path to that information, they often assume that it is not available – or simply give up before finding it.

We will talk about few more mistakes that a user would do in our upcoming posts! Till then ‘Don’t let your users think!’

How to design a great product which delivers Wow!

Great Products are a result of a design process which understands that users should get two essential values out of a product.

1. An emotional value (“Wow! I love my iPhone”)
2. A utilitarian value (“A mobile phone…wow, now I can call my friends from anywhere!”).

These are linked so closely with each other that you just can’t have one, without having at least ‘One’ other one!

Now question comes how do you deliver the Emotional and Utilitarian value? Well there are three ways (Which again are related);


The product looks good, is “fun” to interact with, has smooth transition, a “clean” layout, is symmetrical, feels “professional”, and has a “cool” factor associated with it, etc.


It just does things I really value. For example, I value that I can scan my laptop for viruses, though I find it extremely hard how to do so, but I do value that I can do this!


The way functionality is delivered. Is it effective, efficient, satisfying, and simple?

Majority of the IT companies, and now even the mobile companies focus on the utilitarian value of a product, and the functionality of the product.

They are forced to sneak in as many ‘Functionality Feature’ in a release as they can; since this is the way ‘Success’ is measured for them.

Apple never re-invented the features of a Phone! They just made the experience beautiful!

On the other hand Samsung did the opposite…adding features [primarily of very less usage] will give them success in short run…but the way experience is delivered – it’s a Steve Baby!

I mean its tough for companies too, cut throat competition, a mindset, which puts more emphasis on ‘Features’ and less on ‘Experience’; the companies are forced to follow the path!

A great product delivers a user experience that combines aesthetics, functionality and usability to meet both the user’s emotional and utilitarian needs. So next question is

How do we do it?

I would call it a ‘Fiver’

Expertise – Have in house expertise, or call upon Expert!

Techniques – Use Appropriate techniques!

Leadership and Culture – Appreciate value of UX from business point of view!

Processes – Define processes!

Perspective – Apply principles and process in the broad perspective!

And You?

You think you have a great Business Idea?

Ok, so it’s all about an idea…as a famous tagline for one of the telecom giants in India goes on to say, ‘An idea can change your life’…well for sure it can, but do you think your idea is indeed a ‘Great’ “Business” idea? What does it take to have your idea a successful business implementation? What are the measures you should run your idea through to see the light at the end of tunnel? The very first question that you should be asking yourself is;

Do you have the passion to see your idea through?

If you don’t, well then you should re-think. Because you should do what you love! If you’re not passionate about it, don’t even attempt it! Say you are passionate, but passion alone will not help…

Do you have the knowledge, required skills, and experience?

If you don’t have these, well networking helps you here…you should stick to what you know, and then try and gather support for your idea! Say you are passionate, and have the required skills too, but

Do you have a goal? What is that you want to get from your business and how will you achieve this?

If you don’t know what do you want out of your business, how will you achieve this…well you need to know that. Because there is no point having a map in your hand, when you don’t know where you are! Ok…so you now you have your goals also…wonderful, and things seem to be coming in shape here…but wait a sec…

Who are your customer? Any idea?

Hmmm, you should get your head immediately in to market research See here Because whatever you do…but if you don’t see or have a good customer base, you are bound to fail! Now comes the cracker…

Do you think your idea is big enough that people will pay for it?

Did you say ‘No Idea’? Well, Start Again , well if you are a millionaire you may not actually, but if you are not…your idea has to make money for you!

Ok, so good to hear that you know who your customers are, but

Have you tried it out in front of customer…even as a trial run?

Well here is an old advice…’Test the depth of water before you plunge in! Test the water with your product or service with a limited trial to gain valuable feedback. The most important measure for me to device the value of your idea is:

Are you making something which is filling the void? Which is able to fill a demand, meet a need or solve a problem?

Did you say NO? Well then why bother even starting with the idea…you should know what you are addressing, what the needs are! And this is my favorite

Can you define your product in 25 words sales pitch?

You said you can, wonderful. Ideally it should not take more than 25 words to define your product. Because Complicated won’t sell.

How about the resources?

Do you have the resources that you would need, the skillsets and knowledge that you are lacking? Where will you source your people, and/or offices? You should have answers for these if you want to have an ideal implementation.

The idea which is yours…is it similar to some other feature or product in market?

Your product must have features that set it apart: it needs unique selling points (USPs) to lure consumers away from competitors! Here is a brilliant video

Another very important thing in managing product is, do you know what are the limitation of your product!?

If you tell me…”No, my product is the best”, well I am sorry, it’s not…even the great iPhone has its own flaws…better you find yours…before your competitor does so… We would come to the logical conclusion of this article in next post…till then Happy Thinking 🙂

Enterprise Usability – There is always a risk of ‘Change’ being ‘Challenged’!

In our previous post we talked about ‘Enterprise Usability’, the two major points we touched upon were;

Enterprise buyers in most of the cases will never be the Users., and The Constraint faced due to Architecture. See here

Let’s talk about two other facets of Enterprise Usability and understand why it is tough to have good enterprise software which are user friendly to start with!

Think about this: How many times you as an individual have accepted the Change? Not many times, I would say!

There is always a risk of ‘Change’ being ‘Challenged’

Long time users become so engrossed in the processes they work on, that they feel any change will disrupt their way of doing business. They’re likely to be irritated, and feel bad about things they feel affect their bottom line, even if it benefits them in the long term.

Any improvement that is being made in the product is likely to affect someone who pays for your current product.

In industry there are proven ways and methods to upgrade / update the existing portion of a product, but the risk of being challenged is what makes Organization put those changes on hold for a long…very long time.

Let’s see what happens when you have a product like Microsoft Word, which is feature-heavy applications where 90% of the users utilize 10% of the product, multiplied several times over!


Enterprise products are the products which often try to be all things to all people instead of focusing on a specific set of primary users and a selective number of user or usage scenarios. This results in having a no specific target groups of users – Solution being generic, at the cost of Usability.

Below excerpts are from a conference where customers shared their top usability issues about enterprise software:

  • Customers perceive that the user interfaces of enterprise software are inconsistent and difficult to navigate.
  • Customers think that some functionality is missing or inappropriate to their tasks.
  • Performance problems with enterprise software are perceived to cause productivity losses to workers.
  • Preformed workflows seldom conform to actual business processes.
  • Collaboration is possible, but difficult

One major problem that becomes a bottleneck in upgrading to new version of a software is; The new could do a lot that previous versions could not; however, user would not be sure the complexity penalty of these extra functions was worth the price s/he has to pay in learning and using the new software.

These are certain points which ends up making the existence of User friendly Enterprise Software a distant dream!

Enterprise Usability – Simple tasks must be simple, and complex ones must be possible

“Some 70% of failed CRM projects claim lack of user adoption as a primary contributor. Even successful projects cite low user adoption as a barrier to timely project completion” – As per research from Forrester.

So why do intelligent, experienced, educated designers and product managers produce software that frustrates their user base?

Let’s know this for once and all;  For Enterprise users the focus is shifting from ‘In the office’ to ‘anywhere, and anytime’. With this change in trend the enterprise vendors must adapt to the user experience which can be adopted by the users.

Primary reasons for Enterprise software to be ‘So-Hard’ to use should fall under following;

1. Enterprise buyers in most of the cases will never be the Users.

2. The Constraint faced due to Architecture

3. There is always a risk of ‘Change’ being ‘Challenged’

4. No specific target groups of users – Solution being generic

Let’s take them one by one;

In order to understand #1, think it this way, In majority of the ERP solutions, people who buy the product are not the end users. This ‘Divorces’ users from any decision making capability. Majority of the time the senior management will put features, cost, and most importantly the ‘Trust and Relation’ on the vendor at the top.

There’s been no cost justification for simplifying the solution.

The customers who have been using a version 3.0 of a product will upgrade from 4.5 to 5.0 just because they don’t want to start again with another application, and the learning curve, customization, and deployment that comes with it.

Majority of the time usability problems are addressed as Complaints or as an expensive training.

Management needs to understand ‘Total Cost of Ownership’ doesn’t end at install.

Let’s talk about #2

Majority of the enterprise solutions look like the solution from 90s. And that is fine, because that is what they were supposed to be. They were designed by Software Developers and not by UI designers. The entire focus was on to utilize Computation power and not the user’s need! Let’s make it clear, it’s not the job of a developer to think about the psychology of the users on the other side of mouse!

The development team did their job, and did it well enough to stand the test of time. What it can’t do however is to test the prowess of usability.

I am not a developer, but what I understand of enterprise product’s code is; their GUI is deeply embedded in the product with workflows being hard coded. Hence it becomes tough to change or re-write the code!

One major contributor to lose of usability is; Acquisition. You end up merging not only the culture but also the architecture of several different modules. You think that this makes the offering more robust and keeps the acquired users happy. But in reality combining different architectures and technologies might result in a richer product, but it leaves the underlying code a goopy mess’, which makes it tough to comply with usability standards.

We will talk about other 2 elements and further solution in this regard in up coming posts. Thanks for reading / visiting.

Before you buy software, make sure it believes in the same things you do. Whether you realize it or not, software comes with a set of beliefs built in.Before you choose software, make sure it shares yours. – PeopleSoft Advertisement

Installation isn’t the same as adoption!

Consumer v/s Enterprise; these are the two major paradigm in today’s mobile world. You call it B2C or Consumer, or B2B aka Enterprise; the lines are merging when you talk of user experience.

If you think of it, the Consumer is pretty straightforward – We build a product for the end user and, if they like it, they’ll go ahead and pay for it. Having the excellent UX (User Experience) is quickly becoming a fundamental ‘Feature’ and no more is a luxury. The competition is fierce and the treacherous one-click adage puts competitors just one click away.

Now think of enterprise world; the user and the purchaser here are different people with different needs. And this is what requires a product manager to have a different product management approach. In the early days of having a top-down adoption of software development meant that the end user experience didn’t really matter – as long as whoever was paying for it was happy and hit their goals. But then happened – ‘the consumerisation of the enterprise’.

Due to the revolution in user experience in consumer apps, end users simply gave up on crusty old systems internally and demanded better tools. And, if they don’t get them, they simply get around their IT department and use whatever they can to make their work more efficient. And this is what made companies realize that installation isn’t the same as adoption and that to truly benefit from new products they have to be used.

But the cliche’ is: Many ‘consumer’ products are driven by a sense of desire, a want, and frequent ‘need’ doesn’t even enter the picture. Enterprise products flip that formula on its ear. If it isn’t needed, justification is hard to get, unless there’s an executive champion with enough clout to drive ‘want’ over need.

More to follow on this in my next post…

LinkedIn Endorsements – Do we need to learn some etiquette?

Having endorsed people at LinkedIn, and getting endorsed by people for my skills, came a strange thought in my mind: Is there a need to have some etiquette; when you are on a strong platform as LinkedIn?

Question comes in mind is: What is the difference between endorsement v/s recommendation? For sure these two are different…and the difference is? In simple sense; recommendation is more painful [You got to write a almost a para for your connection] where as endorsement is “one-click” way to give kudos to a contact and they are based on the skills you have entered into your profile, according to the LinkedIn blog.

Endorsement gives more credibility to your profile, as it lets the visitor of your profile know that all those skills which you have added were not just ‘Added;; there are people who really are verifying this fact.

For now my LinkedIn feed is filled with people endorsing, and getting endorsed…for sure at some stage this ‘New Feature’ would also fade out…however when it comes to etiquette on endorsements; there is only one; and that is absolutely un-official:  I call it “Respect the Reciprocity”.

If you are getting endorsed by someone in your network, though it’s not necessary for you to endorsed the person for same number of skills, but as a matter of ‘Spirit of Reciprocity’, you should go ahead and endorse the person for skills you know he possess.

Make sure not to flood your contacts with endorsement; as that may result in ‘Give and Take’ kind of approach, which social platforms are quick to discard…you may end up spoiling or at the least hurt the authenticity of your  connection.

For sure; it is not ethical to claim possession of a skill that you have not earned,so if you end up getting endorsed for a skill which you don’t possess, what you should do? Can Linked In come up with a way to give me an option of saying ‘I don’t deserve to be endorsed for this skill’?

I might be thinking too loud here, but being ethical and maintaining authenticity is a must for having a successful and long lasting career.

CMMi | Project Delivery Approach, Mission Possible!

In this blog post we will discuss about the ‘Project Delivery Approach’, how we should make sure to deliver a project successfully to clients.

CMMi has its unique way of getting things done, and in Organizations, the smaller one on that…it becomes extremely difficult for people to understand and realize the importance of following process. So How do we do it?

Well, you got to make things easy for them. you have to make sure that it becomes part of their daily routine, without even making a change in what they have been doing. Believe me, in smaller Organization the work load a resource go through is massive, and hence asking them to fill in the CMMi docs, following deadlines, and deliver project on time…makes CMMi a absolutely No-No on their part.

Today we will talk about the Project Delivery Approach. This is a document which sums up the activity that every project should be doing, including what type of artifacts are required, and where to keep them! :)…yes, we’re going to unravel the mystery behind CMMi….Let’s get started!


This document describes the project and  summarizes the project delivery approach.  It is owned by the offshore Project Manager.  The objective is to describe the overall structure and control mechanisms used to govern the project at offshore.

Whether it is an Onsite-Offshore delivery model, or is completely Offshore delivery approach, this document takes care of every aspect involved in delivery

Once we are clear with the objective of the document,next comes is Client Overview.

Client Overview:

This is the place where you define a brief note about the client. The idea is to understand which client this document is going to be about, and what client business is.

Remember this document is not ONLY for the person who is going to make it, this makes round across the Organization in various departments! Hence every effort should be made to make sure it is easily understood, and communicate the language which is well understood with-in Organization.

In the next series we will go on and talk about remaining sections of PDA.