Bring Games to Work

This is not about that solitaire game you play surreptitiously when you should be filling out expense reports. And, it’s not about office politics or power struggles. Games at work is serious business and they offer interesting possibilities for law firm knowledge management and lawyer professional development.

A press report about the recent acquisition by Reed Hastings (NetFlix CEO) and Charter Fund of DreamBox Learning got me thinking about the potential positive impact of breaking out of the rather contained way many law firms approach knowledge management and professional development. DreamBox Learning allows children to “learn at play” by offering hundred of lessons via online games.  These lessons currently teach math concepts.  Over time, the company intends to extend their offerings to cover a variety of other subjects.  Each child playing the game first selects an avatar and then dives into the game.  According to DreamBox CEO and Co-Founder, Lou Grey:

`The kids can go off on a million different paths, depending on their own pace of learning,’ Gray said. `We give them individual hints and can track their progress.’

Imagine what mandatory continuing legal education would look like if we took it out of the classroom or conference room  and put it online in a game.  Imagine if we were to compensate associates on the basis of knowledge and skills acquired during a training game and then used in an actual client engagement?  The associate’s knowledge and skill acquisition could be measured and tracked objectively via the game rather than just subjectively via the sketchy written review provided long after the fact by the associate’s supervising partner. Imagine if we could use the tracking data to deliver to a lawyer specific knowledge resources that are pitched to their level of expertise.  In other words, a junior associate might receive introductory materials covering the subjects that were new to them, while a partner might receive a bullet-point list highlighting key policy or judgment issues that usually arise in a particular type of transaction.

The idea of dynamically adapting the resource to the user is a powerful one:

DreamBox Learning has been successful in part because it designed its software to be adaptive. That means when kindergarten through third graders play the online math games, the software tracks their progress and adjust the game to match the difficulty of the lessons based on each child’s scores.

Is this something we could try in a law firm?  Or, are law firms too serious for even serious games?

[Photo Credit: libraryman]

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