When I mention EMS Games, what comes to mind?

Do you picture 1980s-style ambulance driving games where you scored points by transporting patients to the hospital? Or do you think about pick your own adventure games, like such as Emergency: The Paramedic Simulator? I often think about strategies like these for EMS education as a means of reaching millennials.

The digital age has created a learning environment where people feel more comfortable multitasking, are tired of voiced over PowerPoint presentations and reading articles followed by a competency test.

Have you ever skipped to the end of a self-directed learning module to take the test knowing you will pass? Did you stop to consider what you actually learned from doing that? Were there tidbits of information in the course that you may have picked up if you had followed along? Feeling confident that know the information and skipping to “prove competence or to just get your certification” can be counterproductive.

The American Psychological Association article references a study by Dalton State College psychology professor Christy Price, EdD, which suggests that millennials want more variety in class. “This is a culture that has been inundated with multimedia and they’re all huge multitaskers, so to just sit and listen to a talking head is often not engaging enough for them,” Price stated.

The challenge of reaching millennials

What can we, as educators, do to being reaching millennials under our domain?

I believe we must adapt to the types of learners we teach, not to the type of learner we are.

We all know the VARK model, Visual, Auditory, Read/write, Kinesthetic. In a perfect world students would learn using one mode. But this isn’t a perfect world and the next generation learns and retains the information differently than their educators. “Research shows that millennial students prefer a less formal learning environment that allows them to interact informally with the professor and fellow students.”

How can we begin reaching millennials through informal education when our profession insists on a brick and mortar classroom setting?

The answer: live online learning. Through this medium we can chop courses up into small blocks of time, which allows for more gaming-styled learning. We can then better engage, enhance retention, and provide the student opportunities to discuss and interact in a safe environment.

“Active learning approaches — such as the use of student response systems and collaborative learning — are associated with greater academic achievement, though this isn’t necessarily millennial-specific,” Meyers says.

This tells me that more engaged learners share information and are more active participants, resulting in improved learning.

Consider then Virtual Patient Care Scenarios created in a game format. These can include reality-based dispatching, treatment, and post call round ups. Such courses allow staff to see what, when, and how the student performs. Plus, it may also allow educators to observe proof of competency for certain call types.

As technology continues its rapid advance, we will see more learning move online. We, as educators, must embrace this move in order to engage our learners.