Karl M. Kapp: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

KappKarl M. Kapp, Ed.D., CFPIM, CIRM, is a scholar, writer and expert on the convergence of learning, technology and business operations. He is a graduate professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. where he teaches courses in instructional game design and gamification and is the Director of the acclaimed Institute for Interactive Technologies. He is author of six books on the convergence of learning and technology and has authored courses for Lynda.com.

Karl works internationally to help government, corporate and non-profit organizations leverage learning technologies to positively impact productivity and profitability. He provides advice on e-learning design, games and gamification and learning technology to companies and organizations in diverse industries ranging from pharmaceutical, to manufacturing to high-tech. Karl He is a Participant in the National Security Agency Advisory Board (NSAAB) (Emerging Technologies Panel) and sits on several National Science Foundation (NSF) visiting committees. He works frequently with startup companies. He has been called a “Rock Star” of eLearning and is listed among the top gamification experts in the world as it relates to learning and instruction. In 2007, Karl was named one of the Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals as voted by TrainingIndustry, Inc.

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Karl. To read the complete interview, please click here.

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Morris: To what extent is the Fieldbook a sequel to Gamification, a volume in which you, Lucas, and Rich develop in much greater depth core concepts introduced in the previous book? To what extent does Fieldbook break new ground?

Kapp: In comparing the two books, the fieldbook is a sequel in the sense that it provides foundational knowledge that is helpful in developing a game, gamification or a simulation. Certainly someone can pick up the second book and find lots of value but the two together provide the how and why of creating engaging instruction. I think this is the best combination for understanding the most from the topic. The new content and ideas in the second book revolve around the worksheets and steps needed to creation gamified instruction but also provide more in depth and exhaustive case studies. I wanted to provide clear examples of what others had done and show how gamification is already being implemented that it is not something that is unheard of or crazy. The second book provides information on what others have done and provides guidelines for someone to do it themselves and that is my desire. I want people to be able to create engaging instruction using the ideas concepts and worksheets in the book.

Morris: To what extent (if any) are there any unique challenges when creating a fieldbook rather than, let’s say, a straight narrative such as Gamification?

Kapp: Our biggest challenge was deciding how to chunk the information we wanted to present. So we spent a lot of time determining the sequence and order of the table of contents. We all had a great deal of knowledge of our content but thinking of the best way to arrange it among the three co-authors and then thinking how to leverage contributors was a tricky process. We were also challenged to arrange the content in a certain was because we knew that people would be accessing the content in a non-linear fashion (unlike the first book) meanwhile, certain foundational topics needed to be addressed before someone could just jump into “designing a game” for example. In the end, we created sections and felt that a person could turn to the section which was most appropriate for them—no matter what type of learning they were developing or where they were in the process. This approach seemed like a good way to provide the content in a way that could be accessed differently based on the individual needs of the reader.

Morris: In your opinion, how important is it to read Gamification before reading the Fieldbook?

Kapp: If you have no knowledge of games or game elements and little understanding of how games can be crafted for learning then it’s really, really important to read the Gamification book first. You cannot develop or design a game, gamification or a simulation without a good, solid understanding of the key elements of games. But, unfortunately, many people try to do that. So, I think it is highly important to read Gamification before the fieldbook.

Morris: With regard to the writing of Gamification and the Fieldbook, did either pose greater challenges than did the other? Please explain.

Kapp: Not really, although both were different. Gamification was linear and a contained a great deal more academic based content that I worked hard to translate to non-academic readers. The fieldbook did not have much of the theoretical information but had practical tips and techniques that needed to be presented to the reader so they could develop their own interactive learning event. Each book posed it’s own challenge. Although one specific challenge of the second book was to try to be careful not to just re-state what was in the first book. We wanted some overlap but very little. We cut a good deal from the second book as we wrote it to avoid as much overlap as possible. There is still some overlap but where it overlaps, we feel is important information that is worth repeating or needs to be repeated to make sure someone designing the instruction gets it right.

Morris: To what extent did game-based methods and strategies prove beneficial to your collaboration with Lucas and Rich?

Kapp: Ha! Good question. Not sure we really thought of it that way. Of course we had the constraint of time so that’s a game element. We also knew the second book was the next level from foundation to application but as far as consciously approaching the writing of the fieldbook as a gamified event, that was not the case. As we say in the book…you can’t and shouldn’t gamify everything and I guess writing this book was one of the non-examples.

Morris: By what process did you select the contributors (in Sections IV and V) and then decide what the nature and extent of each contribution would be? Or did they make that determination? Please explain. They produced some great stuff.

Kapp: We specifically selected the contributors for their knowledge and experience in a certain area. Again we wanted many voices for the reader to gain a perspective larger than the three of us could provide. We each could have written the contributor chapters but, instead, felt that it was really important to have those voices. For each chapter we provided the contributor with an outline and general instruction but gave them a good bit of latitude in terms of exactly what they decided to write. In some cases, we inserted some materials into the chapters for consistence and to add any additional information we felt was necessary but that was rare due to the knowledge and experience of the contributors. For each contributor, Lucas, Rich or I knew the contributor’s work so we didn’t have any doubt about what the quality would be and we knew they all had rich experience and knowledge of the industry so we were excited to have them share and help expand the thinking in the area of engaging learning through games, gamification and simulations.

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To read alll of Part 2, please click here.

To\ read Part 1, please click here.

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Karl cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Karl’s Website link

Karl’s TEDx Talk link

YouTube Gamification link

Facebook link

Pinterest link


“Gamification Myths Debunked: How To Sidestep Failure And Boost Employee Learning” link

“Improve Training: Thinking Like a Game Developer”link

“Gamification of Retail Safety and Loss Prevention Training” link

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