Vote for…Better Courses!

I’m sitting in my office right now, working on an e-learning course with Election Day coverage on the TV. This got me thinking about how great our country is. We get the option to have our voice heard and our vote counted, which many find inspiring and motivating. What if we did the same thing in our e-learning courses?

According to a session I attended at Learning 2012, The Learner’s Evolution, that’s a great way to capture the interest of our audience. Giving people the ability to make decisions and choose their path through a course keeps them engaged. E-learning courses are transitioning from content-centric designs to more learner-focused. Elliott Masie told us he’s always seen the learner as having the accelerator and the brake pedal, but recently they’ve inherited the steering wheel as well.

It’s also hard to ignore that people are hearing the same messages from the candidates but drawing completely different conclusions. Depending on your background, religious affiliation, or personal finances, you may take something completely different away from a candidate’s speech than the person standing next to you. The same is true in e-learning! Always keep in mind that your learners may come from very different backgrounds and have vastly different experiences. Your course design needs to take that into account. You never know what kind of conclusions a learner will draw from your presentation.

Another thing I’ve noticed this campaign season is each candidate’s ability to tell a story. That comment might have elicited a smirk, but I mean they have the ability to tell a story to provide context so that we can more easily understand their platform and views. According to Dr. Susan Weinschenk in 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, “Information is processed more deeply and remembered longer if it has an emotional hook.” She goes on to discuss the merits of the neuroscience behind how people learn better from parables and anecdotes. Some of the things we remember most vividly are in our memories because they’re tied to a story. So, if your content lends itself to presentation in story form, try it!

After 17 months of campaigning and over $2 billion spent, we’re all very excited to hear tonight’s results. But regardless of how you voted, remember that each candidate provides something we can learn from. Who’s with me? Vote for better e-learning courses!

Nick Elkins

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