Serious Games for Serious Corporate Impact

There’s no doubt, interest in serious games is on the rise – and as a recognised international expert in the field, Lynda Donovan from Learnovate was invited to speak at the Serious Play Conference ( held in Los Angeles last week.

Building on work from an earlier Learnovate research project (see, Lynda delivered her ideas on the subject of ‘Serious Games for Serious Corporate Impact’.

These are exciting times: interest in serious games as innovative vehicles for delivering and assessing corporate training is continuing to grow.  Adoption is currently running at around 20%, and there is a perception of disruptive innovation surrounding the use of serious games for training.

The big issue is: how to appropriately design, leverage and integrate serious games into existing learning management technology infrastructures.  Combine that with a desire to see hard evidence of business impact before committing and we get some insight into why those adoption rates aren’t higher.

There is a body of research evidence to support the effectiveness of serious games for learning, but corporates are looking for tangible business impact evidence such as improvements to training efficiencies.  Through her work in Learnovate, Lynda is working to provide the hard evidence.  The Learnovate model is unique – by  working in collaboration with its industry partners to trial its technology demonstrators, it’s possible to evaluate not only their learning effectiveness but also their business impact.

For serious games, this is made possible by combining new assessment methods with immersive learning environments such as virtual worlds.  For example, with the iLearn project (, it is possible to use big data techniques to gather and analyse user behaviour in real time from a virtual learning environment.  The models underpinning iLearn are flexible and can be applied in multiple contexts: from assessing 21st Century Skills in K-12 through to identifying core competences in a corporate onboarding exercise.

The potential for serious games was obvious in many of the sessions at last week’s conference.  David Smith of Lockheed Martin presented The Virtual World Framework, an open source framework for developing collaborative training environments via next generation web technologies. The platform is designed to support the quick development and deployment of high quality, interactive 3D environments.

VirBELA is developing and piloting virtual world technology for the development of complex skills such as leadership skills. Undoubtedly, serious games have enormous potential for corporate training but barriers to adoption need to be overcome such as availability of business impact evidence, intuitive authoring tools, game engines which can be easily layered over or integrated into legacy LMSs and an availability of learning designers with games development skills.

No doubt, serious games have enormous potential for corporate training.  However, there are still siginificant barriers to adoption: cost; availability of business impact evidence; intuitive authoring tools; game engines which can be easily layered over or integrated into legacy LMSs and the availability of learning designers with games development skills.  Opportunity, anyone?

You can watch Lynda’s presentation at

Copyright, Education, Technology – Past, Present & Future

For our June Lunchtime Seminar we were very pleased to welcome Dr. Eoin O’Dell, Associate Professor from Trinity College Dublin, School of Law. Eoin was addressing the Learnovate members on the topic of copyright, he is a member of the Irish Government Copyright Review Committee and has contributed to submissions at both Irish and European levels.
To put the topic in perspective the seminar took the approach of Copyright; past, present and future.

In relation to copyright past it was interesting to hear that Ireland is the location of one of the first reported cases of copyright. The case involved St Colmcille who copied a book belonging to St Finian. When it was brought to the High King of Ireland his judgement rings true to this very day, his edict was “To every cow its calf and to every book its copy”. A principle that holds true to this day. The history part of the session continued to show the progression through to the present EU Directive 2001/29/EC which relates to copyright in the Information Society.

Looking at the copyright present position, there were a few assumed rules that Eoin put straight. To be deemed in the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright, an artifact needs to be purposefully placed in the public domain, being on a publically accessible website is not such a case. Secondly, the idea that to copyright you must mail a copy of your original work to yourself in a sealed envelope is false, copyright is automatically assigned to any original work. The third eye-opener is to understand that copyright for work produced by an employee, related to the employment, belongs to the employer unless otherwise agreed.
In relation to using other peoples work the options are;
– Old, in the EU copyright is life of the author plus 70 years.
– Public Domain, as mentioned earlier it must be purposefully put in the public domain.
– Most Government publications are in the Public Domain
– Permission, if you are granted permission by the author, or current owner of the copyright. Permission may have time or geographical limitations
– Licences, probably the one used by most Learnovate members, where in return for a consideration permission is granted with conditions.
– Exceptions, Under Irish Law, Sections 50 and 51 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000 deal with ‘fair dealing’. Fair dealing allows the use of published materials for the purposes of criticism, review, research and/or private study.
– Education, there are exemptions in relation to copyright, but educators need to look carefully at Sections 53 to 58 of the act. It is not by any means an educational free-for-all.
– Links, legal rulings of late have supported the idea that links to others sites are not infringements of copyright. If the target site is open to the public, linking to it is not providing access to a new public.

Looking at copyright future, Eoin drew from his recent experiences with the Copyright Review Committee and the publication of their “Modernising Copyright” report .
In general the report promotes a ‘Fair Use’ approach with improvements that include;
– the inclusion of formal, non-commercial education and examination in the ‘fair dealing’ category, including for distance learning on the internet.
– Linking to be seen only as an infringement if it links to an infringed copy.
– Marshalling, an extension of linking allowing for the Indexing, Syndicating, Aggregating and Curating of copyright material, while the main focus would be in the area of News, we can see obvious implications here for Technology Enhanced Learning.

Some issues from the attendees included the need to chase down the copyright author, and while there is work being done in relation to “copyright orphans”, finding the author is currently the best or only practice to follow.
When dealing with software development the copyright of IP would reside with the developer unless otherwise agreed, the clients call of “I paid for it therefore I own it”, is not valid unless contained in an agreement.
There is no need for “I agree” buttons. By being on a site or downloading software you actually agree to the terms and conditions associated with it.
A final tip from Eoin was that he uses sites like tineye to run a quick check on an image to see if it is potentially a copyright infringement.
A big thanks to Eoin and we hope to have him back later in the year to talk to our members on privacy in cyberspace.

If you would like a copy of Eoin’s presentation please contact me,

Eoin is contactable at:
Email: odelle at,
Twitter: @cearta