Every Picture Tells a Story….or not!

Here is a simple little e-learning module I created.  The original intent was to demonstrate how to use layers and states in Articulate Storyline.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qwdctnbhbuie71q/First_Aid_Exercise.zip?dl=0

I showed this during a recent ASTD monthly session to over 40 people.  One of the key takeaways, for me, was how engrossed and captivated the audience was in doing the exercise.

I purposely did not include any visuals or photos or images or anything other than text and basic buttons because I didn’t want to detract from the lesson of learning about layers and states.

These folks thought the content and approach was compelling, interesting, engaging, and they loved going through the exercise.  And, they said they actually learned something!

I asked them, “did the fact that there were no visuals bother you?”

Many folks said things like, “I didn’t even notice.”; “I created the visuals in my head.”; “I liked that there were no visuals, it allowed me to stay focused and create the scene myself.”; “It didn’t bother me.”

There is so much emphasis in our (e-learning) community about images (use visuals in place of text) and pictures (do we use real people, characters, or silhouettes?).  Yes, there is a lot of talk about scenarios and stories but what I witnessed, from my little non-scientific session, is just how powerful the story really is and all the other “stuff” can make a good story better but it won’t make bad story (or no story) good.

Feel free to download the exercise and tell me your thoughts.  (You should download all the files as listed to ensure it runs properly).

(note: the content for this exercise was found on the internet.  I don’t remember where and I didn’t record where because I didn’t think it would get this far.  I’m happy to give credit and/or take it down if whomever owns it wants me to.)

House Painting and E-Learning…Yeah, They’re Similar

What’s the similarity, you ask?

Preparation.

Painting your house is no fun.  Not for me, anyway.

It took me lots of trial and error to realize that if I would take the time up front to prepare for creating something new (like a freshly painted room), that I could avoid a lot of pain and anguish after the fact.

So, how do you prepare to paint?  You move furniture, put covering down on the floor, tape off baseboards and window sills, repair small holes in the wall, and sand down rough spots.  You make sure you have the right brushes, ladders, trays, solvents, paint, rags, masks, and clothing.

And what’s the pain and anguish I avoid?  Spilled paint on carpet or hardwood floors that may never come clean.  Uneven and splotchy paint on the walls and look unpleasant and unprofessional.  Walls that no one wants to look at.  A big mess that I don’t want to clean up.  Possibly a room that will need to be painted again.

I’m hoping that you are already seeing the similarity to e-learning.

If you prepare properly for the creation of your e-learning module then you greatly increase your chances of having a job that will not only look pleasing and professional, but one where learners will actually learn something.

Next time I will talk about the steps you can take to prepare for a successful e-learning “paint job”.  In the meantime, be thinking about it yourself and see if you agree with me or have some additional steps to add (I am sure some of you could add steps to my house painting preparedness list!).

Until next time…

You Better Think

Do you remember that 60’s song from Aretha Franklin, “Think”?

That song pops in my head every time someone asks me “What makes good e-learning?”

e-Learning should make people think.

That’s where the Aretha Franklin connection comes in, but there’s one more piece that’s required for “good” e-learning: feel.

Good e-learning makes people think and feel.

There is lots of e-learning out there that makes people think.

It gives them something to differentiate, reason, conceptualize, create, decide, deduce, infer, discern, judge, speculate, act, form, do, etc.

But, too often, those “somethings” are in the form of “tests” or “quizzes” provided after a bunch of information has been passively provided in the form of bullet points, talking heads, voice overs, captions, etc., that the “learner” reads/watches/listens to.

What is really being tested is the ability to remember for a few minutes what was read/watched/listened to.  The “thinking” involved is trying to remember what you just read/watched/listened to in order to correctly answer the question so that you can get credit for having taken the e-learning.

That’s okay if your goal is to:

  1. Ensure someone can remember something for 5 minutes
  2. Give a check mark for completing a course.

But if you want people to really learn something, you have to inject a “feel” component into the mix.  You need to get people emotionally attached to what it is you want them to learn.

We’re probably all familiar with the terms “interesting” and “engaging”.  That’s usually high on the list of someone requesting e-learning.  “Make it interesting!”  “Can you make it like a game?”  “Put lots of graphics and pictures in it.”  “Make it interactive.”

What the requester is saying is, “I want the learner to have an emotional attachment.”

What the requester is really saying is, “I want the learner to only have a “feel-good” emotional attachment.”

But is that the way we learn in the real world?  Do we do our best learning when there is no risk involved in our choices, where there are no consequences to our actions, when every step in a task is performed flawlessly – and we know it before we go to the next step?

Performing in the real world is fraught with emotions that aren’t all “feel-good”.  We get annoyed, confused, hurt, upset, frustrated, perplexed, exasperated, shocked – all valuable emotions in the quest to learn something.

It is what makes the learning stick!  We remember when we blew up the lab because we mixed the wrong chemicals.  We remember when the movie didn’t show on time because we didn’t have the lamp in the projector.  We remember when the computer didn’t boot because we plugged the RAM in the wrong socket.

So, having all the “feel-good” emotions are necessary – you want your e-learning to be interesting and engaging – but good e-learning needs to contain the not-so-feel-good emotions, too.

After all, isn’t that how real learning happens?

Think about it.

Until next time…

I Made The Leap!

People have been telling me “you should have a blog!”  So now I do!

I am officially a “training manager” at my job and I love what I do.  A big part of what I do involves e-learning and I have designed it that way because I think e-learning is wonderful.

Well, it can be wonderful.  When done correctly.  This blog will be about what it takes to do it “correctly.”

I hate boring e-learning.  I think you do, too.  Whether you are a recipient of e-learning or a creator of e-learning, I think you hate boring e-learning.

So, join me on my quest as a crusader against boring e-learning.

Until next time…

Scott