Teaching Strategies: Lessons from “Swiping”

October 20, 2015

instructional design education is gamification

Learn Instructional Design Theory from Online Dating ?

Has anyone recently tried online dating? I decided to give it a go and see what would happen. Being a 40+ entrepreneur with limited time, I was lucky to get some early expert advice from my friend Laura and then signed up for 3 different sites to give it a try.

Visual Learners Strategies Win ….

The first site had a long series of questions to fill out, followed by a detailed description profile. It took a while and was slightly painful as I juggled how to convey my personality while sounding funny and interesting at the same time.  The process seemed very academically logical and the effort was similar to taking an exam. (High level effort)

The second site was a semi- detailed profile followed by some optional questions and pictures. Not as difficult, but still time consuming trying to be articulate and thoughtful in my responses. (Medium level effort)

The final site required no academic effort. In quite a fascinating approach, it’s simply a series of pictures. This was great for a visual learner like myself. You just select yes or no upon the rapid flow of pictures displayed. If both parties say yes, then you can chat. (Low level effort)

Short Attention Spans


My first observation is what use to be seen as a negative connotation has become full on mainstream at a younger age. Surprising to me, there were massive amounts of 20 -30 something’s registered and heavily using these services.  Also, as part of use they very often link to their Instagram pages for further pictures often short cutting the dating sites profile questions entirely.

Another observation was the heavy users have very short attention spans, do not like deep and meaningful profile information and rely on pictures and games to make the process more engaging. They often ask quick questions of you, disregarding your profile, or make you respond with answers to see if it gets them immediately interested. If you do not engage them instantly, they simply ignore you.

Gamification of Dating

The smart dating sites have caught on to gamification with large graphical percentage matching indicators, easy to use on mobile devices, and quick swipe games to make it even more fun. They are trying to adapt to this clear shift in learning and decision making.

After a short period of time, I quickly realized that the old world of heavy text, information, careful thought processes and learning was being replaced by heavy visual techniques with an emphasis on fast and fun. My high/medium level effort long profiles were not working.

It was feeling like what I do for work – a gaming system.


Instructional Design and Gamification

gamification and instructional design

Perhaps being in the education industry and being a little older, I still like to do research and read profiles. As I previewed these sites I tended to see a lot of young educators having profiles. There is nothing wrong with this, however, it made me think:


  • If young teachers want a rapid visual gaming style experience for their personal lives how long before they also want similar tools for their classroom?
  • What about the students they teach, are they requesting this style of learning also? Would they react better?

As a reader of my blogs, many of you know I have long been a proponent of gamification in education.  This was just another indication to me that educators might want to think of instructional design methods more intuitively than programmatically and explore new methods to engage students and have them reach their full potential.

Rahul Mahna is the founder and CEO of Class Compete, a video game platform that helps relieve student’s test anxiety by teaching time, pressure and anxiety management skills in the hope of improving grades. Rahul has over 14 years of experience leading education technology-focused companies and has dedicated his career to helping teachers and students succeed.

Prior to Class Compete, he’s been a partner in three other educational learning startups. He is credited for rapidly scaling and leading each company through a successful exit. Beyond his primary business, he also serves on several boards as a business advisor on education technology services for private companies and school districts.

He holds degrees from Lehigh University, Columbia University and Northwestern University- Kellogg School of Management and is fluent in three languages. An outdoorsman at heart, he enjoys fishing and hiking having recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and base camp Mt Everest. His passion is sharing ideas for technology in the classroom and education teaching strategies using educational games.