Julie Dirksen, an independent consultant and instructional designer, will speak on “Why Your Brain Loves Video Games and the Implications for e-Learning” at the Digital Learning Forum’s monthly presentation on Monday, April 11.

The presentation and discussion will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Room 150, 3M Auditorium, Owens Science Hall. Guests can arrive at 6:15 p.m. to network with other professionals in the Twin Cities area. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

Julie Dirksen

Julie Dirksen

Participants are welcome to stay after the talk for an information session on St. Thomas’ E-Learning Graduate Certificate. R.S.V.P. to Dr. Candace Chou, program coordinator, if interested in participating in the information session.”

Dirksen will examine how games engage people in ways that e-learning designers can only dream about; however, attempts to implement “game-like” elements in e-learning often fall flat, largely because designers attempt to leverage the style of a game without understanding how games actually work. Great gaming environments don’t rely on pop-up text boxes or multiple-choice questions to provide players with interaction. Interaction in gaming environments is active, multifaceted, multilayered, auditory, visual, complex and surprising.

Participants in this session will discover how games get it right, what can be transferred to e-learning, and what research in neuroscience, biology and evolutionary psychology can tell us about exactly why people are so drawn to games. Learn that, although training rarely sees the kind of budgets available to large game-design companies, there are specific practical lessons from games that can be incorporated into e-learning to make it more effective, useful and fun.

Dirksen has more than 15 years of experience creating highly interactive e-learning experiences. Her clients range from Fortune 50 companies to innovative technology startups to major grant-funded research initiatives. She has focused on using the disciplines of educational psychology, neuroscience, change management and persuasive technology to promote and support the improvement of peoples’ lives through sustainable long-term learning and behavioral change.

Dirksen holds an M.S. degree in instructional systems technology from Indiana University. She also is an adjunct faculty member at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where she has taught courses in project management, instructional design, and cognitive psychology.

The Digital Learning Forum’s monthly presentation and discussion is sponsored by the Master of Arts in Technology for Learning, Development and Change, and the Graduate Certificate in E-Learning program in the Department of Organization Learning and Development at the University of St. Thomas.