Thursday, March 1, 2012

Content alone will not be enough to engage your learners. !Ever!

I read an article recently in which the author chronicled his transformation from lecturer to facilitator of peer instruction (Don’t Lecture Me: Rethinking How College Students Learn). I, of course, thought about his comments in regard to e-learning. How often do we see instructional designers create lessons that ask our learners to passively absorb information through reading or listening? Basically, we've taken the f-2-f lecture format and made it even more passive and - shall I say it? - uninspiring - than the lecture from which it was derived!

Many instructional designers begin and end with the content delivered by the SME, which is highly focused on what the learner needs to know by the end of the instructional period. What we really need to do is use that content to decide what the learner needs to DO by the end of the instruction. Not long ago, I created a graphic and posted it here in the blog. The graphic, part of which is repeated below, tells us to first, define the goal of this learning, then identify the actions learners can take to reach the goal.

It's not enough to focus our efforts on getting the content complete and correct. We have to create opportunities for the learners to apply the information contained within the course to solve something - whether it be how to solve a math problem or how to conduct an interview.

I work for a college, so I'm all about applied learning. Come to think of it, I'd be about applied learning if I worked for a university! I believe that focusing on content leaves a very large gap between the passive transfer of information in an educational environment and learners' performances in the real world, doing real world tasks.

My final word (for now): 

Content alone will not be enough to engage your learners. !Ever! 

More on this next post.