Learning Designers – How Spooky Are We?!

Learning Designers – How Spooky Are We?!
Summary: As Learning Designers, what do we aim to achieve? Here's what I learnt from the spirit world!

The Spooky Methods Of Learning Designers 

Let's see how spooky we are as Learning Designers:

I’m not a movie buff – I seldom watch movies, unless I am dragged to them. And, my interaction with the idiot box is –well– minimal. While the wife and daughter merrily watch movies and soaps of all genres, especially on television, I’m usually found pottering around the house, my loyal cocker spaniel in tow. It’s no wonder, then, that I have not watched The Conjuring. One Friday evening, when the family was watching the movie and I was wandering around from room to room, I happened to catch the following:

"Infestation, oppression, and possession. Now infestation that's... that's the whispering, the footsteps, the feeling of another presence, which ultimately grows into oppression, the second stage. Now this is where the victim, and it's usually the one who's the most psychologically vulnerable, is targeted specifically by an external force. Breaks the victim down, crushes their will. And once in a weakened state, leads into the third stage, possession…" (Referenced from: Ahh Real Demons!)

For some reason, the three words –Infestation, Oppression, and Possession– caught my fancy, and I made a note of it on a small piece of paper, which went into my wallet and resided there for a long, long time.

Apart from my wallet, apparently, these words resided in my subconscience as well. Often, I’d find myself wondering how this concept is actually applicable to more than the spirit world!

Infestation - Oppression - Possession

Consider this – as Learning Designers, what do we aim to achieve? Get into the learners’ heads; get them to learn/do what we define, and then elicit the performance we desire… right? Sounds pretty much the same as infestation, oppression, and possession, doesn’t it?!

The splash animation, the introduction, the build-up to a scenario… that’s when infestation takes place. You’re just about getting under the learner’s skin, without them realizing it!

And then, wham! You hit them with information, you make them want to know more; you beckon them into the dark cave of knowledge… You’ve designed the course, and you lead them around like zombies… Yup! That’s oppression!

Then finally, possession. By now, you’ve already got the learners by the nose. You can make them jump hoops, if that’s what you want. Click here… click there… drag this… drop that… play this game… score points… the learner is just following your lead!

Weirdly, I like it! So, the question arises – are we doing it right? Are we spooky enough?

Let’s try and see what we do – I think back to Gagne’s Nine Events and Keller’s ARCS theory, and the first thing that we try and do is gain attention. It’s important that we have their attention; otherwise we’ve lost our learners even before they start the course! I’ve found a short, introductory video –a real-life actor, scenario, or whiteboard animation– works wonders!

The Information Dissemination Part

Often, we tend to “dump” knowledge in a didactic manner – hardly engrossing for the learner. I’m a great fan of scenarios or stories to explain concepts. I think a story can be a lot more effective to get the message across, than just text, images or infographics. Maybe that’s why religious texts across faiths are based around stories – people take heed!

Finally, we try to elicit performance – to ensure that the learning outcomes have been met. We cajole the learners, guide them, and then assess what they have learnt. We make them practice till they get it right. Whether it’s a traditional course, or a game-based one, the entire flow remains the same – introduce the concept, give information, and throw a challenge at the end.

At the core of the entire process is the learner. They need to be motivated to learn, like what they see, and therefore willingly submit to your designs. They need to be possessed!

Today, technology offers a plethora of delivery mechanisms to connect with the learner. As learning designers, we need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each deployment platform to ensure we reach them when they want, where they want, how they want – not when we want, where we want, how we want! We need to get into their heads to understand what motivates them – and what puts them off.  There are ways and means to gain learner attention, but the important part is to get into their shoes; haunt them, possess them!

My fellow ghouls – do share your thoughts; let’s come together and figure out how we can be better spooks!