Last night I addressed the local chapter of ASTD on the topic of instructional design for how people really learn. It’s very much like the article I did for eLearnMag on improved ID, and the interesting thing is how valuable people felt it was.
Despite the warm and fuzzies for me, it’s actually kind of scary that it was that valuable. I’ve heard that people are executing ID by rote without really understanding it, and I know I’ve seen way too many examples of eLearning that didn’t really seem to get what the point of the learning elements are. Still, it’s a revelation.
I recall seeing some of the award winners from the various self-appointed bodies to anoint those who pony up the cash to compete, and thinking that behind the polish, there wasn’t solid learning design there. I’m going to get a chance to speak again about this (among other things) at the eLearning Guild’s always excellent conference, the Annual Gathering, but I realize that there’s a good reason why eLearning’s getting bad press. We deserve it!
It’s not rocket science, but there is science behind it, and we’ve got to stop following the cookie cutter that says we have to have: an introduction, concept, examples, practice, etc, without understanding why they’re there!
So, please, make sure you know why you’re doing it, and how it fits in a learning experience. To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, you can drag learners to learning, but you can’t make them think.
And moreover, when you think about our real goals for learning: retention over time until an appropriate opportunity, and transfer to all appropriate situations, we need to use what’s known about achieving these: cleverly, flexibly, efficiently. After all, respecting our learners has to be one of our goals, and being respectful of their time by making our learning maximally effective is one of the things we should feel duty-bound to do.