Requirements for optimal learning environment for an online project risk management game
Several authors have questioned the effectiveness of using lecture-based teaching to provide students with enough confidence to apply project risk management. Gaming was proposed as a solution. However, despite widespread use of games in teaching project management, it is still not clear what conditions provide optimal learning through games. Another shortcoming with the existing games is oversimplification.
This paper addresses these shortcomings and proposes a game design that captures real-life challenges associated with applying the project risk management process; a design that prompts an appreciation for project complexity as well as providing students with the opportunity to experience the consequences of ignoring or following the risk management process. The paper also identifies and elaborates on the requirements for optimum learning, and distinguishes between two types of requirements: 1) learning requirements, and 2) qualitative requirements.
Learning requirements identify the learning outcomes of the game. These requirements were identified through structured and semi-structured interviews with senior project managers from several management-consulting firms. The challenges and the corresponding tactics that are adopted in practice in order to manage project risks were thus identified and ranked. These results are also presented in light of supporting literature. The challenges and associated tactics were mapped into a set of eight requirements representing the learning outcomes of the game. These requirements were then mapped to the design using four instructional methods: a briefing lecture, a team-based assignment, an online computer simulation, and a debriefing lecture. All these methods were linked by a real-life project case and executed in a gaming context to improve engagement.
Qualitative requirements represent important conditions that must be present for optimal learning. These were identified through structured interviews with continuing education students taking a master's degree in project management. This empirical study resulted in four qualitative requirements that must be considered in the game design: 1) ownership, 2) relevance, 3) feedback, and 4) adaptation.
The paper also presents the evaluation results of the game design. The purpose of the evaluation was to examine the game's ability to capture the two sets of requirements identified above.
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