I'll Take Learning for 500.
Article Type:
Book review
Books (Book reviews)
Russ, Travis
Pub Date:
Name: Training Media Review Publisher: TMR Publications Audience: Trade Format: Report Subject: Business; Human resources and labor relations Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2007 TMR Publications ISSN: 1072-3188
Date: Sept-Oct, 2007
NamedWork: I'll Take Learning for 500 (Book)
Reviewee: Yaman, Dan
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States

Accession Number:
Full Text:
I'll Take Learning for 500, by Dan Yaman and Missy Covington, Book, 2006, Pfeiffer & Company, $60.

Support: CD-ROM.

Field trainers and instructional designers are always looking for innovative techniques for engaging their learners and motivating them to retain training content. Game shows have proven to be particularly useful at accomplishing training objectives.

For years, classroom trainers have used game shows like Jeopardy, Family Feud, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to review course content. These nontraditional learning methods have proved generally effective at helping participants retain the material as well as fostering exciting and motivating learning climates. Until now, few books have been available to help trainers use games shows to their fullest potential.

Fortunately, Dan Yaman and Missy Covington have written I'll Take Learning for 500: Using Game Shows to Engage, Motivate, and Train to fill that gap. The book is a reference guide for trainers and designers that allows the reader to quickly locate information and tips about creating and hosting classroom game shows.

The text is divided into four sections. The first, "Game Shows and Learning," includes frequently asked questions, a list of critical differences between classroom game shows and TV game shows, a description of brain-based theory that underlies game shows, and the busting of popular myths about game shows.

The next section, "Designing a Game Show for Learning," includes the nuts and bolts of design, including brief descriptions of popular shows, an explanation of how to select and customize a TV game show for the training classroom, and how to establish rules for the game.

The third section, "Writing Effective Questions," highlights the types of questions that can be asked during a game show, tips for writing effective (and fair) questions, and strategies for writing questions with multimedia clues. The last section, "Conducting a Game Show," gives valuable tips for being the host of a classroom game show and maximizing participant learning, logistical details regarding game show setup, game show software and hardware peripherals, and criteria to evaluate success of the game and your performance as the host.

The book also contains a "Resources" section chock full of helpful books and sources for software, hardware, and professionally produced materials for game shows. Finally, one of the most attractive features of this book--the biggest selling point that is also the most underplayed--is a CD that contains a demo of Gameshow Pro, software for creating professionally designed electronic question boards and scoreboards. (TMR review of GameShow Pro is here.)

This book exhibits several positive characteristics in critical categories. First, it is generally quite effective at holding the reader's interest. Game shows are a hot topic as trainers are frequently using them in the classroom and always looking for and better ways to leverage this learning methodology. Yet, few resources inform trainers how to use them appropriately and to their fullest advantage. The authors have made a concerted effort to close this gap.

The authors have written a readable text by minimizing technical jargon and writing in an accessible manner for a broad training audience. They are quite effective at dispensing advice that can be easily understood and used by the intended audience.

Second, the self-study value of I'll Take Learning for 500 is quite high. The reader learns what the book promises to teach. It is generally quite successful at helping readers: (1) correctly choose and design/modify a training game that will help their participants achieve the training objectives; (2) integrate multimedia into the game show for superior creativity and innovation; and (3) learn the ins-and-outs of playing a fun and entertaining game show host while also being an educational classroom trainer.

Third, the content of this book will likely be quite valuable to new as well as experienced field trainers and instructional designers. The authors provide a large number of practical best practices, strategies, and suggestions that are extremely action-oriented and realistic to implement in the typical training classroom and will enhance learning outcomes.

However, the authors primarily talk about how to use established game shows (e.g., Jeopardy) in the classroom. Experienced trainers and instructional designers would benefit more from the introduction of new, innovative game show formats. Chances are, veteran trainers are already using (or have used) well-known game shows. And students may perceive some of these "classic" game shows as outdated.

Newer game show formats could reinvigorate the energy and enthusiasm of trainers and participants alike. So the instructional value of this text will likely be higher for new trainers versus those more established in the field. However, I should note that I'll Take Learning for 500 does include a helpful section for customizing a game show to fit one's own needs and offers a number of hints and tips for using game shows in the classroom that experienced and new trainers will find helpful.


Although new trainers and designers will find I'll Take Learning for 500 more useful than veterans, I strongly suggest that all instructional practitioners have this reference guide on their bookshelves. The depth of quality information as well as the accompanying CD makes the price of the book commensurate with its value. All readers--novices and veterans--will learn something they didn't know about designing and hosting classroom game shows. The Gameshow Pro software demo introduces readers to a tool that can create professional-looking game shows as a capstone to learning events--a benefit to both trainers and participants.

Review by Travis Russ
Product Ratings

I'll Take Learning for 500

Overall rating  *** 1/2
Gale Copyright:
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.