Write. Seems an odd answer, considering this is what we do for a living! Yet writing interesting instructional content still seems to be a challenging task. So we wish we could write better.
It’s a big responsibility us learning professionals have — to use words to teach the most complex of content to someone sitting thousands of miles away. The big questions, thus, never seem to go away — Is my writing good enough? Will my writing improve the learner’s online experience?
But there’s technology and there are graphics, some of you may say. Text is not the only medium of instruction. While that’s a fair argument, what one can’t deny is the power of effective writing. Not dumbing down the content to suit the audience, but redefining style for a greater good.
So what do we mean by ‘better writing?’ Using words effectively, learning the art of presentation, striking a balance between substance and style, and saying more in fewer words. But hang on! That’s not all. There’s the all-important task of making the learner ask for more. Of making him (or her) curious about all things mundane. Think this can’t be done? Read on…
Think about school days. (OK! We accept that’s a whole lot of years ago…) Those history lessons, lines from King Lear, or inventions that changed our lives forever… We remember these because some of our teachers were great storytellers. Their anecdotes brought to life the dark ant-like letters in the textbooks. They unleashed the power of imagination.
To reach across to the other side, we need to do just that. Look for a twist in the tale to keep the interest alive. And we need to mind the gap. Which brings us back to where we started. Our desire to write better. To tell good tales where the content allows, to create good scenarios to make drab content come to life, to use words to do what we set out to do… teach. At the end of the day, isn’t that what this is all about?
Happy Planet, a clay animation – or ‘claymation’ – film developed by TATA Interactive Systems (TIS) has won its second award. This time it has been chosen for the Best Animated Frames (BAF) 2008 Award organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The BAF Awards, which are part of Frames, Asia's largest convention on the entertainment industry, comprise three categories: Animation, Gaming and Video Effects. Happy Planet, sent in the Animation category, was adjudged the Best Animated Social Welfare film. It had recently won the DigiCon6+3 Territorial Award in India and Japan.
(Preeti Jasnani, Deputy Head – Instructional Design with TATA Interactive Systems reflects on the Learning Circuits Blog’s Big Question for April.)
I could start making a genuine attempt to adopt a simple and what experts call a ‘no-nonsense’ approach to learning, and thereby design.
As an e-learning professional, most of my work caters to adult learners. And we adults don’t like to waste time; at least we’d like to believe so!
Each time I get down to designing a new course, I focus on ensuring sound instructional design that would work for the said target audience and the said subject matter. I think in terms of scenarios, stories, simulations, and games and make every attempt to come up with a new, ‘out-of-the box’ strategy to create a learning environment that is fairly interactive and engaging for my learner. Holy intentions indeed!
Then, why does each course I build almost always leave behind the lingering question:
Do the learners really need all the information and interactivity that has been plugged in or is the learner being held hostage by the course?
I must confess I’m afraid to hear the answer. That brings me back to the big question: What could I do better as a learning professional? I sure could start building courses that don’t waste my learner’s time.
And how can I do this?
It’s all about focus, I reckon. About understanding the real purpose of the course and defining definite objectives, thus avoiding information overload. About adopting a ‘no-nonsense’ approach with which I can decide which course needs to be interactive and engaging and which other could be a simple ‘click and read.’ About realizing that each course need not really be a course!