LearningWare interiews Paul Scheele

Paul Scheele: Accelerated Learning and Game Shows

An Interview with Paul Scheele; creator of Accelements--an accelerated, brain-based teaching and learning course--author of Natural Brilliance and PhotoReading, and Chairman of Learning Strategies Corporation.
LearningWare: What is your perspective on games and how they relate to accelerated learning?

Sheele: Learning Strategies Corporation provides tools and guidance to help learners reach their full potential. When we work with groups--for example, in our Accelements courses--we focus on presentations that are sensory rich & brain-friendly, and fun is a major part of making that happen.

LearningWare: What does fun have to do with learning?

Sheele: When we can make all learning fun and turn all fun into learning, we know we have engaged the full power of learning within our trainers. Fun directly affects 3 major aspects of our instruction: curriculum design, learning environment, and training methodologies.

LearningWare: How does it affect your curriculum design?

Sheele: First of all, we are all natural learners. Goethe said that, "To learn effectively, we need to rediscover the seriousness of a child at play." Learning should be child-like. Some people hear the word "fun" and immediately say, "None of that! We have to be serious about training." Yet, we are all born as accelerated learners. Before we attend school, we demonstrate natural learning abilities. Bringing out that natural learner within each person is our top priority. The key is to keep trainers involved in serious play. LearningWare has taken the seriousness of play & put it into a usable series of products that engage trainers & teachers, and which transform the corporate learning environment. LearningWare's software works because:
  • It allows unlimited repetitions
  • It supports exploration and problem solving
  • It engages trainees with adventure, challenge, & feedback (and the feedback is immediately after the challenge)
LearningWare's tools are really classroom assessment techniques that offer instructors the opportunity to assess the retention of knowledge from a session in time to affect subsequent sessions. These tools give trainees feedback in an authentic, uncontrived manner. More importantly, they also give instructors feedback, allowing them to modify their training. The old training model was like this: "If learning doesn't occur, it's the trainees' fault." The new model is like this: "I see where I need to change the instruction because no one is getting it!"

LearningWare: How do fun & games affect the learning environment?

Sheele: Games foster a natural learning process by creating a game-like atmosphere using color, images, variety, and positive competition. They energize a group. Instead of a dull, linear, monotonous training approach followed by a test, games "speak" to trainees on all learning modalities: auditory, visual, AND kinesthetic. Another key environmental factor is how games foster cooperative/competitive teamwork. By having trainees answer in groups and play on teams, we create just that kind of teamwork.

LearningWare: Then everyone should use games in their training classroom, right?

Sheele: Absolutely! In fact, over 800 studies gathered by researchers at the University of Minnesota's Cooperative Learning Center have shown that cooperative/collaborative learning is better than lecture-style instruction--yet only 5% of all trainers utilize cooperative education techniques.

LearningWare: Why is that, in your opinion?

Sheele: Because it is seemingly harder to pull off. It is chaotic. You have less feeling of control over the trainees' behavior because you are giving them the power and responsibility to learn. It is a shift from instruction to learning. The advantage of LearningWare's tools is that they offer a discrete game event that creates a chaotic, collaborative environment for a fixed period of time. Using LearningWare tools is a safe way for a trainer to implement cooperative/collaborative teamwork and become comfortable with such methods. To the trainee, the games represent a high perceived risk (associated with losing, not knowing, etc.), yet there is low actual risk, so they stimulate creative processes in the brain within a safe environment.

LearningWare: How do games affect your training methodologies?

Sheele: First of all, we engage learners' minds with puzzles that are relevant to the learning task. We encourage higher order thinking by means of problem-solving. LearningWare games are very engaging puzzles & problems. Trainees are drawn into these games very naturally. Second, through our Speak and Listen sessions, we help externalize and solidify internal perceptions. This is dialogue about what is being covered & is especially important for auditory learners. LearningWare games include verbal activities and rich dialogue in a question & answer setting. Third, games are fun ways to simulate the real world in relevant ways. By role-playing as contestants, trainees are rehearsing real behaviors. [Gameshow Pro 3's Game 2] Classroom Feud is excellent at running neural circuits in just the right ways because a participant has to think, "What are the 5 things I should think about when X happens?" since they have to access these concepts purely from memory. Fourth, when we present information, we try to elicit strong feelings so that we'll have a stronger impact on the participant. LearningWare tools encourage learning in a novel, funny, provocative sense. Concepts covered in these games will be stored in long-term memory and can be more easily retrieved. That is why trainees can remember, sometimes years later, having played a particular game.

LearningWare: So, you use LearningWare tools in your seminars?

Sheele: Yes, we use Gameshow Pro after lunch, when trainees are sleepy & usually non-productive. In the afternoon of a day with lots of content being covered, we get trainees to help us identify the gap between what we think we have gotten across & what has not gotten across. We use that feedback to adjust content delivery later that day. We also use it on the 2nd & 3rd days of an "Accelements" program.

LearningWare: What is the payback or ROI for you regarding the use of LearningWare's tools?

Sheele: I do not know how to quantify the value to me. Think of how useful it is for me to discover that the 4th question under the 3rd category heading in Game 1 is always answered wrong. That is direct feedback to me, and I either need to adjust my lesson delivery for that topic or get that question out of the game! Our training approach is interactive, so this sort of feedback is essential to our effectiveness.