In this fourth, and final, post about making it meaningful, I talk about process. You need to systematically acquire the necessary additional information to make learning experiences work. And, of course, to then use them. All explored more in the workshop.
And, as always, the text.
This is the fourth (and final) post about how to ‘make it meaningful’. I’ve talked about the key principle, some of the tips and tricks, explored how to tweak some of the elements, and here I want to talk a bit about the necessary process in creating experiences that matter. Here, I’ll talk about analysis, brainstorming, and tuning.
In most respects, when we do analysis, we’re largely focusing on the necessary cognitive elements. That is, what the learner needs to do, what the learner already knows. And the associated models, and examples. If we’re really being good, we collect misconceptions as well. However, we need to go further for experience design. Yet, we have an advantage.
Usually, we see subject matter experts as ‘the enemy’. They can be hard to get sufficient time with, they can be somewhat condescending, and they too often focus on knowledge. But for our purposes, they have an important advantage: they’ve found this stuff (whatever it is) fascinating enough to spend the necessary time to become an expert in it! That’s valuable, because it gives us a handle on intrinsic interest.
If we can find what makes a domain interesting to one person, we can tap into that. We should be making it manifest in the learning experience. Then, if it’s not of interest to the learner, maybe they’re not the right person for this topic. If it’s generic enough, the problem may be on our side!
We also want to find out what interests our learners. This forms the basis upon which we build worlds in which our stories occur. We want to wrap interesting contexts around the goals we’re giving learners, but we can’t do that without knowing what’s ‘interesting’!
Once we’ve gathered the necessary information, then we need to start mapping out the elements of learning. And we should start with practice. There’s the necessity of being creative around the design process. And this is where what’s known about creativity matters.
I’ve written before about brainstorming, and in brief, there are things that work and things that don’t. We want to diverge and converge, exploring ideas broadly before evaluating them. And we need individuals to think on their own before sharing those ideas.
Note that while we might have to do it alone, the best outcomes will come with a diverse team sharing the goal of creating a great learning experience. I’d even suggest that teams where mostly you work alone carrying a design forward make a habit of connecting at certain points in the design process, and particularly at the space of getting creative around practice and the overall story settings.
Of course, that doesn’t mean what you come up with will be right. Tuning should be built into your process. That is, prototyping, testing, and refining should be expected. Humans are a funny lot, and recognizing that our expectations and what actually happens won’t necessarily converge.
And you want to use the lowest fidelity prototype you can. You want to minimize investment in making ideas concrete early on, so that you’ve less sunk costs to fret over. Look to be agile early one, trying things out and iteratively refining rather than coming up with an overarching plan and then implementing the whole thing.
There’s more, of course, but these are some of the areas where we need to modify what we do. There’s more detail to this, of course, and if you’re interested in the more, I’ll encourage you to sign up for the workshop. This is the topic of the fourth and final week! Of course, it’s a full workshop, so in addition to the content, we’ll have live sessions to workshop some ideas and discuss what we’ve done, and assignments with personal feedback. Hope to see you there!