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Five questions...for Karl M. Kapp

By Lisa Neal / September 2007

TYPE: INTERVIEW
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Professor Karl M. Kapp, of Bloomsburg University, is well-known for his applied work in the area of learning strategies and technologies. His latest book is titled Gadgets, Games, and Gizmos for Learning: Tools and Techniques for Transferring Know-How from Boomers to Gamers.

Lisa Neal: What is the premise of your new book?

Karl M. Kapp: The idea behind the book is to provide concrete examples of methods for transferring knowledge from the outgoing boomer generation of employees to the incoming generation, who I call "Gamers." Many companies don't realize it but they will soon be facing a huge problem in terms of transferring the knowledge and know-how of their current veteran employees to newer employees. Already, utility companies, government organizations, and parts of the pharmaceutical industry are encountering knowledge shortages. This trend of exiting knowledge will only increase. At the same time, a new generation of employee and learner is entering into the workplace. This worker doesn't want traditional learning methods; he or she wants mobile learning, Google-like search capabilities, and "smart" equipment.

LN: Why do you call them "gamers"? Not all kids growing up these days play video games.

KMK: I've defined a "gamer" as someone who has grown up in a generation influenced and shaped by video games. My broad definition is not based on whether a person is currently playing video games, rather, it is based on the fact that they grew up in a time when the popular culture hyped and discussed the attributes of video games. This definition also includes the use of Web technologies and hand-held gadgets. This generation has grown up with technology in a way that other generations have not and organizations need to leverage the games and gadgets of this generation for knowledge transfer.

LN: Can you give me an example of how organizations are using the "games" and "gadgets" of the younger generation for serious training?

KMK: There are lots of examples of companies using games and gadgets to help with the transfer of knowledge. In one instance a company is using an online role-play game to help teach the soft skills of project management and emphasize the need to balance project and personnel needs. It was designed by senior project personnel to help teach newer project managers. In another instance a game was used to help sales representatives overcome specific objections they may encounter. The list of objections was developed by senior sales reps. In terms of gadgets, one of the most interesting is a manufacturing firm that is using video iPods to provide visual work instructions to employees on a noisy factory floor. I think the new video iPods and iPhones will only increase the use of portable, on-demand video-based instructions for employees.

LN: How does social networking and Web 2.0 technologies fit into the "gamer" picture? Do organizations need to think about these technologies in a strategic way?

KMK: This generation has grown up "wired." Many boomers and others view them as anti-social because they are always "on the computer." The opposite is true. They are on the computer with their friends, playing games, gossiping, exchanging ideas, and interacting. They are highly social, just not in the traditional face-to-face manner. This has many positives as well as some negatives but overall, it is the Web 2.0 tools and social networking software that allows them to have a large social network cutting across socio-economic boundaries. If you have access to a computer and the Internet, you can join almost any social circle you'd like. This fondness for being wired is going to carry over to the workplace whether employers consciously allow it or not. So having a strategy in place provides an advantage but not having a strategy in place doesn't mean one won't evolve from the ground up…it will.

LN: What does the future hold for e-learning?

KMK: Gamers are knowledge hunters; they don't want knowledge dumped into their heads in case they need it. They search for knowledge when and where they need it via something like Google or in their social network. This is leading to the disintegration of knowledge. Knowledge is slowly being freed from the confines of traditional e-learning courses and Learning Management Systems and being spread via wikis, blogs, and other tools of the gamers. This will ultimately allow the knowledge created by the boomers to be available cafeteria style to the gamers so they can consume it when and where they want.



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ADDITIONAL READING

    Lisa Neal
  1. In search of simplicity
  2. eLearning and fun
  3. Everything in moderation
  4. The basics of e-learning
  5. Is it live or is it Memorex?
  6. The Value of Voice
  7. Predictions for 2006
  8. Five Questions...for Christopher Dede
  9. Five Questions... for John Seely Brown
  10. Designing usable, self-paced e-learning courses
  11. Want better courses?
  12. Just "DO IT"
  13. Five questions...
  14. Formative evaluation
  15. Senior service
  16. Blogging to learn and learning to blog
  17. My life as a Wikipedian
  18. Five questions...for Shigeru Miyagawi
  19. "Deep" thoughts
  20. 5 questions... for Richard E. Mayer
  21. Five questions...for Elliott Masie
  22. The stripper and the bogus online degree
  23. Five questions...for Lynn Johnston
  24. Five questions...for Tom Carey
  25. Not all the world's a stage
  26. Five questions...for Larry Prusack
  27. Five questions...for Seb Schmoller
  28. Do distance and location matter in e-learning?
  29. Why do our K-12 schools remain technology-free?
  30. Music lessons
  31. Learn to apologize for fun and profit
  32. Of web hits and Britney Spears
  33. Advertising or education?
  34. Five questions…for Matt DuPlessie
  35. Back to the future
  36. Serious games for serious topics
  37. Five (or six) questions...for Irene McAra-McWilliam
  38. Learner on the Orient Express
  39. Predictions For 2003
  40. How to get students to show up and learn
  41. Q&A
  42. Blended conferences
  43. Predictions for 2002
  44. Learning from e-learning
  45. Storytelling at a distance
  46. Q&A with Don Norman
  47. Talk to me
  48. Q&A with Diana Laurillard
  49. Do it yourself
  50. Degrees by mail
  51. Predictions for 2004
  52. "Spot Learning"
  53. Q&A with Saul Carliner
  54. When will e-learning reach a tipping point?
  55. Online learning and fun