Breaking the rules in Learning Design

“Boring.”

In the grand melee of client feedback, this is the one comment that always cuts me to the quick.

The problem with it is it targets a single element that for the learner, drowned out any other value.  It makes hours of instructional design and SME reviews wasted.  It’s also one of the elements that drives me towards any innovative, creative or unusual solutions.  The term boring can really influence me to break the rules.

Unfortunately, content in itself can’t always be really interesting and carry the learner.  What’s interesting to some might not attract others by message alone.  With the availability of multimedia, colour, voice talent and a wide variety of eLearning, mLearning and Instructor led media, we can certainly impact the learner and keep them engaged.

I really believe in the power of brainstorming and wild ideas.  There is no better tool available to an Instructional Designer than their peers in a trusting environment.  I like to encourage anyone working with me to think up alternatives, try new things and use some lateral thinking.  Many interesting ideas can either add value to a more traditional solution, or replace it altogether.

Some great examples:
  • Duck Hunt QnA – Have a group of experts available for support teams to come over and ask direct questions.  Works for any topic and really allows for quick turnaround of solutions in an informal setting. (Works at conferences booths or in classrooms)
  • Training Sandbox – Setup product X stations all over a training room or conference room and allow trainees to wander and play.   You can direct the play by providing workflow/dataflow brochures that cover top 5 walkthroughs they can try (and take away).  Add extra value by peppering the crowd with bold-shirted experts (use you facilitation team!) who can do show and tell, QnA.  This is a nice addition at the end of a formal training session.
  • Skype Guest Star – Have an expert in the industry call into a live instructor led session from the field via Skype.  This is the easiest to set up, and often overlooked.  This can really drive your participants to be encouraged and motivated (especially new hires) when they see people working on site at a cool company/organization. (record it and post on your LMS)
  • Wiki Parking Lots – Don’t use the corner of the whiteboard, have a student post to a wiki or blog immediately (use a smartphone via email!).  Provide the wiki/blog address to the SMEs and the rest of the facilitation team.  You’ll not only have great answers very soon, you’ll have a growing repository of QnA you can export for the class on the last day.
Find a mashup of technology or media that will fit a need.  There are new things every day that are as of yet, pretty untapped opportunities (Can you say front/rear facing iphone cameras?)  Many of these reduce cost (client updated collateral?) and increase adoption and usage (social networking/media and learner involvement?).

How are you going to break a rule?
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About Andrew Ambrose
I am passionate about the learning longtail for formal and informal learning solutions, leveraging social media and networking technology for learning projects, innovation through mLearning, collaborative learning and applying solutions that fit within the learners personal learning environment.

One Response to Breaking the rules in Learning Design

  1. Anonymous says:

    >like the idea of using a wiki as a parking lot. the traditional parking lot (i.e. piece of flipchart paper off to the corner of the classroom) is the question graveyard – it's where learners' questions go to die. consolidating these items on a wiki not only makes the questions accessible to other learners post-training, but it can also be used to help prepare other trainers prepare for their respective deliveries. as a trainer, there's nothing worse than not being able to anticipate your learners' questions – being able to see other learners' questions is a great resource for trainers. and think about how great this resource is for program designers! the ability to see questions come in from learners real-time and unfiltered – this is an excellent means of formatively evaluating training content. -RM

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