As a child of the 80’s, I (like many of my classmates) loved the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books. I’ll admit to trying to read them straight through. I may have read both choices and then picked the “better” one. And I honestly spent more time with a few of those books than I would ever care to admit trying to get to the perfect ending.
Like those amazing books, the Netflix movie Black Mirror: Bandersnatch places the storytelling power in the hands of the audience with interactive choices. Doing this in a feature-length “movie” format has created quite a buzz (and don’t worry… the Internet has all the information you need about the endings and how to reach them).
But can this interactive, engaging, and gamified example inspire you to create great training experiences?
No, I don’t think a stupid movie has any relevance to training. [SCROLL DOWN]
Yes, of course I can create amazing experiences! [SCROLL DOWN A BIT FURTHER]
[You chose NO]
For the sake of this blog post, we’ll allow you to keep scrolling to the other answer - but we’d love to hear your thoughts… [KEEP SCROLLING]
[You chose YES]
Of course Bandersnatch can inspire your amazing training experiences!
It’s clear that implementing some of the basic game mechanics featured in the movie can drive engagement and retention. In the movie, choices are presented with a timer (in the form of a shrinking bar graphic) and a default option is chosen if a selection is not made. The tension created by the countdown, combined with the FOMO around choosing (versus being forced into) a decision can instantly create feelings of anxiety in a single viewer. For a group, the discussion will turn into chaos and then even panic as the timer ticks away.
These elements in your training program demand attention from the learner. The timer creates a sense of urgency around choices, whether the material is telling a story or simply presenting questions. This urgency leads to tension, increasing the focus of the learner. Adding a penalty (choice is made for the learner if a selection isn’t made) only increases this tension - keenly focusing the learner’s efforts on actively selecting the right answer.
Interactive training videos are not new, but often the production quality is poor or the controls are choppy. It is imperative to have the proper technology and execution in place for these types of programs. With those distractions out of the way, some topics like leadership and soft skills lend themselves very well to a Choose Your Own Adventure style model. By making choices in the middle of a scenario or narrative, the learner has an opportunity to see the impact of their selections in context, and even compare their choices to those of others - or a control. This can strongly reinforce desired behaviors (whether the learner selected correctly or not) when the real-world scenarios present themselves.
Regardless of the medium, your training materials should seek to incorporate some level of interaction and choice. Think about the last course you worked on - was it linear or did learner feedback drive the direction of the training to suit their needs and unique perspectives?
Are you ready to make the right choice with your training materials? Let's chat!
Words by Chad Bellin, Director of Products and Strategy at Mindspace.