“Tell me, and I will forget,” runs the old adage sometimes attributed to Confucius. “Show me,” it continues, “and I may remember. But involve me, and I will understand.”
Everyone learns differently, of course, but this ancient saying neatly captures wisdom that’s as relevant as ever in our age of digital transformation: it’s the doing that really cements your abilities to recall information or perform a task better.
That idea is taking on fresh urgency today as organizations of all kinds find themselves seeking to ensure that their teams keep up with technology’s accelerating demands.
But new research confirms that experiential approaches to training and upskilling can help improve those efforts dramatically.
In a recent survey with IT leaders, IDC heard from more than half of them that they’re feeling the impact of an IT skills shortage—and it’s costing them in the forms of lost revenue, time, and competitiveness. The skills needed by IT professionals—and the organizations they work for—are continually evolving, so the evolution of talent requires creative approaches to ongoing learning and development.
“The race to upskill new employees and reskill current employees is on,” IDC notes. Its survey identifies the most critical technical and human skills in demand today (Figure 1), which experiential learning activities can help to grow.
Figure 1. Survey results listing the top five technical skills and the top five human skills, from IDC InfoBrief: Experiencing Excellence: The Value of Experiential Technical Learning.
“With the rise of hybrid and remote work, organizations now rely on a raft of IT training modalities and solutions,” IDC notes. “Experiential learning-based games, challenges, and events can help build on and reinforce associated skilling investments.”
Not only can these methods help people skill up faster, but IDC predicts that they will also help build on and reinforce associated skill-building investments and will foster nimble, on-the-fly thinking.
As a complement to traditional training, Experiencing Excellence explains, “Experiential learning can help employees strengthen and hone pragmatic tech skills from a unique angle that studies show makes an appreciable difference. Applied to teams, the approach can enhance collaborative skills too, such as critical and creative thinking as well as improved communication.”
Let the games begin!
To help foster such positive outcomes, Microsoft Learn has brought to life an innovative experiential approach with the introduction of interactive Cloud Games. Designed especially for security and data & AI professionals with an intermediate knowledge level across a range of Microsoft solutions,Who Hacked? and Data Feeds are fun, immersive role-playing games with the mission of refreshing and reinforcing your IT expertise.
Excellent opportunities to apply your skills and to savor the thrill of solving real-world problems in a no-pressure, risk-free environment, these new on-demand games engage you in a variety of role-based activities—including simulations, mini-games, and team challenges. As a player, you can switch between roles throughout the activities, enriching the experience and your understanding of colleagues’ responsibilities and priorities.
In Who Hacked?, e-retailer Best for You Organics is about to launch a major expansion when it discovers a serious data breach. A hacker has stolen critical files and threatens to sabotage customer trust unless a ransom is paid. It’s a fictitious company in a simulated world—but it’s a very real danger faced by real organizations every day.
Your challenge is to use your proficiency with Azure, Microsoft Defender, Microsoft Sentinel, and other tools to identify the source of the hack and to implement solutions to help ensure that it can’t happen again. Watch the Who Hacked? trailer.
In Data Feeds, you’re a data scientist, data analyst, or data engineer working for a biotech firm, applying data & AI to design a solution to the global problem of food waste and to resolve a critical food shortage in a fictitious island nation.
You call on your experience with Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Machine Learning, and other technologies to transform swaths of data into powerful insights by building a storage solution and dashboard, a predictive model, and an analytics solution. Watch the Data Feeds trailer.
Both Cloud Games include two episodes that can be played in any order and that present you with multifaceted opportunities to practice skills that are essential for your in-role success. The detailed Who Hacked? study guide and Data Feeds study guide include learning paths and modules to help you prepare for and get the maximum benefit from playing the games.
In designing the activities, we started first with the game mechanics, built on exciting storylines, and then wove the learning goals into them—rather than identifying a learning topic and developing a game around it. This approach helps to ensure that you are engaged and having fun, which is a proven way to deepen skills.
Additionally, if you’re looking to build your skills to help open career doors, explore Microsoft Learn, where you can find comprehensive technical training opportunities, including experiential learning, self-paced training, like learning paths and modules, and instructor-led training, such as courses for specific technologies, exams, certifications, and much more.
1IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Microsoft, Experiencing Excellence: The Value of Experiential Technical Learning, #US49754122, November 2022