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Mar 31, 2006


As a professional in the field of Education,I face this issue constantly. As a Toy Designer, I design Educational Aids for children,which would convey concepts to them as they play and learn. Sometimes,in the effort to "make children learn",one forgets that children learn best when they are having fun. Information overload,without any fun is just too dry for children. "How Children Learn" by John Holt is such a wonderful reference to understand the processes of learning. Also,this link http://www.idesignthinking.com/07theory/01theory.html is extremely worthwhile ,especially for designing for children. Only yesterday,I was working on designing activities for teaching alphabets to young children, and I had such fun while designing "K" aerobics,wherein children would learn to write the letter "K",by doing a little dance.And this not only would they enjoy but also learn more effectively.
Also,Matilda's teacher,Miss Honey, is my favorite teacher of all times and a source of inspiration too.

I can relate to your frustration. The fun is gone. And, I believe the process is to blame.
In the 1970s, I worked for an ad agency in Boston. It was one of the most creative agencies outside of New York. We were innovative. We broke rules. That won us larger clients and bigger products with more demographically diverse audiences. That required more sophisticated processes. We hired more Harvard MBAs and expanded our research. The creative department was fed key words, buzz words, words that hit a responsive chord with the target audience (according to focus groups). Soon, it seemed nothing included the edgy creative attitude that had made the agency great. Everything was dumbed down to the lowest common denominator for the broadest possible audience. Every ad had to include 6 of the 10 “focus group approved” words. The creative brains that had given our campaigns such a playful, gutsy attitude grew frustrated and left. In the end, we had a formula for effectiveness which may have won short term ROI battle, but in the long run lost the brand war.
Something similar has happened to elearning. The time consuming process of review, feedback and approval for those who create the courseware is in conflict to the spontaneity that makes it fun, memorable and/or interesting. The formulas may be efficient, but the long term result is boredom on a grand scale. There’s no personality, no compassion, no spirit, no life.
I suspect it’s the cost and time involved in creation that has forced a process to take precedent over brand. Mediocrity is the result. Maybe all the buzz words are there, but where’s the heart?
Elearning is often complex, and is usually produced by multiple experts – probably a geographically distributed group whose task of creating the elearning is as painful as the end product is for the student.
I have hope that the Web is moving into a new realm where efficiency restores creativity and spontaneity in the content and interactivity of course development. I’ve addressed this topic in several posts at http://blog.qmind.com. I’d appreciate your feedback.

Absolutely Priya...infact you have wonderfully penned down the thoughts of many...and when it comes to loosing the fun element due to speed, I believe it is true for many such things in life.

From where I stand, I see rapid eLearning development [ReD] as something that helps to quickly preview the final product. Writing content should not be wearing a straight jacket in the ReD setup. In fact ReD environments are a tech thingy, that help Instructional Designers quickly see the finished product; quite like an internal prototype.

For a WBT - an authoring tool, that allows you to drag and drop the basic elements with the code written already, is ReD. This means we can actually think of a gaming model to involve the user and learn more effectively. ReD could employ "Procedural Generation". Here is a link in context. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8372603330420559198&q=spore
Creating dynamic scenarios to engage the learner in challenges that arise and thence experience the results of the decisions. Now this would conventionally mean a lot of media involvement... NOT! With Procedural Generation the elements once created can be placed anywhere in the scenario; in different situations, now that’s Rapid Development.

ReD is also about re-purposing existing content for different media - Mobile phones, Podcasts, etc. Once the learning objectives are defined its a matter of what can be done or not done in a particular media.
Tools that convert for another media now that's Rapid Development

An absolutely important aspect is put through this article. Being a novice instructional designer, I truely agree with the idea. I have been moulding myself to fit into business requirements but I think the way eLearning is taking shape, we will have to break the paths...I think its important from instructional designers' point of view to make learning joyous. Having latest technology and machines in the room won't help alone..its time to come up with innovative,productive(and yet cost effective!) deliveries..when the music changes, so does the dance!

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