Minimal IT logo and link to home page
Research, training, consultancy and software to reduce IT costs
Home | About | Newsletter | Contact
Previous | Next Printer friendly
4 December 2012

Video game training

By Andrew Clifford

Could video games provide a good model for how we structure technical training?

One of our problems at the moment – and it is a good problem to have – is scaling up our ability to meet client demand for solutions based on our Advisor platform. We need to increase our pool of skilled people to keep up with demand.

Advisor is built on some fairly unique concepts, so we can not take on ready-trained people and will have to train people ourselves.

Unlike many tools, there is not a distinct set of technical skills that solution builders need. Advisor functionality is defined within Advisor's own data structures, and solution development involves using Advisor's features to create, extend and redefine these data structures to meet specific needs. Developing solutions for clients is just an advanced use of the tool.

To try to reflect this in a learning or training plan, instead of defining separate technical training, I have arranged the use of Advisor into a series of levels, each of which builds on the one before. By luck rather than design, skills in Advisor fall neatly into ten levels.

  • Level 1 – Basic usage
  • Level 2 – Data maintenance
  • Level 3 – Account administration
  • Level 4 – Data type maintenance
  • Level 5 – Data management
  • Level 6 – Configuration
  • Level 7 – Programming
  • Level 8 – Metadata
  • Level 9 – Branding and style
  • Level 10 – Solution structure

After the ten levels, improvement is more to do with design skills than knowledge of the tool. There are three levels of mastership.

  • Master 1 – Solution builder – able to build a complete solution.
  • Master 2 – Tool builder – able to build a solution that is designed to be extended, tailored or configured by others.
  • Master 3 – Innovator – able to map the characteristics of Advisor to business problems creatively.

This structure makes it easier to understand what training people need. For example, people developing new content need to have achieved level 4. People developing different types of components need to have achieved levels 7, 8 or 9. People leading development need to have achieved Master 1, 2 or 3 depending on whether the solution needs to be extendable and whether it is a new type of solution.

This way of structuring skills and training is useful for the specific needs of our product. It communicates how skills need to be developed through a number of small steps, each of which builds on the ones before. But it is different from most technical training. In most technical training, you go on a course and come out with a certificate. But what I think we need is more like a video game, where you work your way through the levels to gain more skills and more recognition. For many people, this is a familiar way to think about skills and achievement. If we want to attract and give recognition to new developers, perhaps we need to rethink how we train them.

Next: Know your USP

Subscription

To subscribe to the newlsetter, simply send an email to newsletter-subscribe@minimalit.com.
Privacy policy

Subscribe to RSS feed

Latest newsletter:
Your first web app

With a unified approach, creating a web app is as easy as creating a web page.
Read full newsletter

System quality management

System quality management helps you implement high-quality systems, manage existing systems proactively, and improve failing systems.
Find out how